High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a significant issue. It increases the risk of heart disease and strokes, two of the leading causes of death in the USA. The condition affects approximately 45% of American adults. Furthermore, only 1 in 4 of these people have their blood pressure under control.
Therefore, some may wonder if natural remedies like cannabidiol (CBD) could help. But, unfortunately, the relationship between CBD and blood pressure is not straightforward. This article explains the current research on CBD oil for hypertension and whether it is worth a try.
What Is Hypertension?
Before we look at CBD’s possible effects, we will briefly overview hypertension, its symptoms, and its causes.
The term “blood pressure” means how much force blood exerts on the vessels as it passes through them. It is measured in units called millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
Blood pressure can be subclassified as systolic or diastolic. Systolic readings measure the force on the blood vessels when the heart muscle contracts. Meanwhile, diastolic blood pressure readings measure the force when the heart muscle relaxes.
In hypertension, the blood’s force on the vessels becomes greater than usual, increasing the risk of heart disease and strokes.
In hypertension (high blood pressure), the blood’s force on the vessels becomes greater than usual. This increases the risk of heart disease and strokes. Some people also use the phrase “elevated blood pressure.” This means that blood pressure is increased, but not significantly.
People with elevated blood pressure may be able to control their condition by making healthy lifestyle changes. However, people with stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension will usually require medication.
The table below illustrates what constitutes normal, elevated, and high blood pressure:
Stage 1 Hypertension
Stage 2 Hypertension
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Some refer to hypertension as “the silent killer” because it does not usually cause any symptoms until serious problems arise. This is why regular blood pressure check-ups are essential, especially for those at high risk (see below).
In severe cases, a hypertensive emergency can occur. It involves a sudden and dramatic increase in blood pressure, which is extremely dangerous. The condition can cause various symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Reduced urination
- Visual changes, such as blurring
Anyone experiencing these high blood pressure symptoms should seek urgent medical attention.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure tends to increase naturally with age as the artery walls become less elastic. However, several other risk factors can contribute to the development of hypertension:
- Ethnicity (people of African-American or Hispanic descent are at higher risk)
- Family history
- Diabetes or metabolic disorder
- Kidney disease
- Some types of tumor
- Sleep apnea
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Being overweight or obese
- Some medications
Some other potential causes of high blood pressure are lifestyle-related, for example:
- High salt diets
- Low potassium intake
- Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of sleep
- Some illicit substances, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and “bath salts”
Does CBD Lower Blood Pressure?
CBD is a cannabinoid, one of the numerous active compounds that cannabis plants produce. Until recently, it lived under the shadow of its psychoactive cousin, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, research is now showing that CBD has great potential for treating various conditions. So, what about CBD for high blood pressure?
Many people know that THC can reduce blood pressure. This is why some cannabis users experience dizziness as a side effect. However, we understand less about CBD and how it influences the body. That said, it seems that both chemicals could work similarly by relaxing the blood vessels.
This reaction is probably due to how cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is an intricate network of cell receptors (CB1 and CB2) and chemicals called endocannabinoids. When they bind together, they regulate a vast range of physiological processes that help maintain a state of balance within the body.
Both THC and CBD can also influence this system. THC binds directly with CB1 receptors to mimic the activity of an endocannabinoid called anandamide. Anandamide has many functions, including relaxing the blood vessels to reduce blood pressure.
However, CBD acts differently. Scientists are still trying to understand its precise mechanism, and it seems to work in several ways. It appears that rather than binding directly with CB receptors, it indirectly increases anandamide levels.
This is why CBD produces many of the same benefits as THC but without psychoactive effects. It works gently within the body rather than overstimulating it. Unfortunately, though, the compound is still very much understudied. Therefore, CBD oil blood pressure research is thin on the ground.
Studies on CBD Oil and Blood Pressure
There are a handful of studies on CBD’s effects on blood pressure. However, their results are very mixed. It seems that they depend upon the species, testing methods, and whether the subjects are healthy or hypertensive.
For example, a 2017 study of nine healthy male volunteers had promising results. It investigated the impact of a single 600mg CBD dose under both normal and stressful conditions. The researchers found that the CBD reduced resting systolic blood pressure by an average 6mmHg. It did not affect diastolic pressure.
However, when they subjected the participants to mental, exercise-induced, and cold stress, the effects were more pronounced. In these experiments, CBD seemed to influence both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Under stressful conditions, CBD seemed to influence both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Unfortunately, this study had several flaws. Firstly, the subjects were healthy rather than hypertensive, and they were young, with an average age of 23. Furthermore, the researchers only tested the effects of a single, large CBD dose. Therefore, these results, while interesting, are not representative of real life.
A 2020 study resolved some of these issues, using hypertensive test subjects and administering CBD daily for two weeks. However, the subjects were rats rather than humans. It found that CBD did not reduce blood pressure or heart rate. However, it did provide potentially beneficial antioxidant effects.
Different Species, Different Tissue Types, Different Results?
Another 2020 study suggested that CBD might affect rats and humans differently. Its authors proposed that while the compound interacts with CB1 receptors in rats, this might not happen in humans.
They explained that the mechanism in humans is far more complex and involves several other receptor types. However, they tested different cell types for each species, using lung artery cells from humans and abdominal artery cells from rats.
Interestingly, an earlier 2015 study had tested CBD on the same type of abdominal artery cells from humans. It found that, in this case, the cannabinoid did influence CB1 receptors as well as other types.
Is it possible that CBD could affect various species and tissue types differently? Only further research will tell. It is clear that far more studies are necessary to understand the link between blood pressure and CBD fully.
Can CBD Oil Raise Blood Pressure?
Another valid question is, “can CBD raise blood pressure?” However, research on this subject is even harder to find.
A 2017 systematic review found that CBD did not affect blood pressure or heart rate under normal conditions. However, it did find that the cannabinoid significantly decreased these measures in stressful circumstances.
It also discussed the long-term effects of CBD by looking at clinical trials on epilepsy, Huntington’s disease, and schizophrenia. It found no changes in blood pressure in any of these studies.
Just one study on intraocular pressure (IOP) found that CBD temporarily increased IOP, which is related to blood pressure. These effects occurred after a single 40mg dose. Therefore, individuals with already raised IOP should exercise caution and consult a doctor before using CBD.
Best CBD Oil for High Blood Pressure
When it comes to choosing an effective CBD oil, there are several considerations.
First and foremost, consumers should be aware that the market is not well-regulated. Therefore, products can vary greatly in terms of quality. Look for a reputable brand that publishes lab reports on its website. These indicate exactly how much CBD is in each item and ensure it is free from other contaminants.
Full-spectrum CBD oils contain a range of other cannabinoids and terpenes, including traces of THC.
Secondly, check whether the product is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate. Full-spectrum CBD oils contain a range of other cannabinoids and terpenes, including traces of THC. Since THC may also help to lower blood pressure, this might be a better option. Individuals in states with legal marijuana could even look for products with higher levels of THC.
Finally, consider the overall quality of the product. This might include where the hemp was grown, whether it is organic, extraction processes, and more. Online reviews provide a fantastic way to learn from previous customers about each company’s pros and cons. You can also find out how the WayofLeaf team rated various products in our CBD brand reviews section.
We hope this article has been informative. We recommend that individuals interested in trying CBD oil for high blood pressure or any other condition consult a knowledgeable physician.