Curious about using CBD oil (or other CBD products) for improved heart health? Here’s the first bit of advice we’ll offer: Be cautious when it comes to the credibility of information online. While there is some interesting research suggesting that cannabidiol possesses cardiovascular benefits, there is by no means enough clinical evidence to suggest that CBD oil on its own can be used to treat or improve a cardiovascular condition.
Keep reading for a clinical perspective on the potential use of CBD for heart health and cardiovascular benefits.
What Does “Heart Health” Mean, Exactly?
From a biomechanical perspective, the heart is an intricate, complex organ. From a basic physiological perspective, however, the function of the heart is quite simple; it is responsible for circulation of blood throughout the body, and is therefore the vital component when it comes to cellular health.
But what exactly do we mean when referring to heart health? What is good for the heart, and what can individuals do in a practical sense to achieve – and maintain – a healthy heart?
In the most basic sense, a healthy and properly-functioning heart pumps blood without disturbance at a steady, calculable rhythm.
An unhealthy heart may beat irregularly, or it may have trouble creating the necessary arterial pressure to pump blood efficiently to all parts of the body.
There are many basic things an individual can do to establish and maintain efficient heart health. All of it, however, starts with proper diet and exercise.
Diet and Exercise: The Foundation of a Healthy Heart
While the estimations of medical professionals vary, many suggest roughly 150 minutes per week of moderate to intense aerobic activity is needed in order to achieve optimal heart health.
As for diet, the traditional consensus has always been that high-sodium and high-fat foods lead to poor cholesterol levels, and eventually poor cardiovascular health. This is why the American Heart Association has, for decades, warned against overconsumption of things like red meat, butter, coconut oil, and so on.
While it is true that high-sodium and high-fat foods can raise cholesterol levels and eventually affect heart health in a negative way, it is inaccurate to suggest that all high-fat foods are bad for the heart.
We are learning, for instance, that the monounsaturated fats found in things like coconut oil and palm oil (which are rich in MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides) can provide tremendous health benefits. Generally speaking, diets that are rich in plant-based nutrients, leafy greens, and lean protein sources (turkey, chicken, fish, etc) are optimal for achieving a healthy heart.
Unfortunately, far too many are trying to establish and maintain a healthy heart through prescription medication and/or daily supplements – and some may have tried the use of CBD oil and other CBD products for this purpose.
While CBD offers numerous health benefits – including potential cardiovascular benefits – it should never be considered a practical treatment option for things like hypertension, high cholesterol, or any other cardiovascular condition.
That being said, let’s take a look at some of the basic properties of CBD, as well as some applicable contemporary research on the effects of CBD on the heart and the use of CBD for cardiovascular health.
The Basics of CBD
Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a non-intoxicating phytocannabinoid found in hemp and other varieties of the Cannabis sativa L plant. It is often touted for its ability to help with things like seizures, pain, stress, anxiety, and sleep, and there indeed is an abundance of research that supports the use of CBD for these issues.
In a physiological sense, CBD influences human health by interacting with receptors and receptor-independent pathways of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). While much needs to be learned about the ECS in humans, we know that it plays a regulatory role in many physiological pathways, and is a crucial component of internal homeostatic balance.
One of the key properties of CBD is its ability to work as an anti-inflammatory. This, combined with the potential for CBD to lower blood pressure in some individuals (see link to study below), is the primary basis for the suggestion that CBD oil may be beneficial for heart health.
Is CBD Oil Good for Heart Health?
As we’ve mentioned, there is research suggesting potential cardiovascular benefits of CBD. For example, a study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology suggests that CBD causes vasorelaxation within the circulatory system, which may result in reduced vascular tension, and it can protect against cardiac damage from diabetes.
Furthermore, there is extensive research showcasing the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. Considering the fact that inflammation is a key component of many cardiovascular ailments, it stands to reason that daily consumption of something like a high-quality CBD oil would be advantageous for heart health. That said, it’s important to remind all readers of the value of real clinical evidence.
Clinical evidence in the form of multi-stage clinical trials allows doctors to implement drug treatment and dosing regimens to help patients manage specific conditions.
Since there have been no clinical trials done on the use of CBD for cardiovascular conditions, no one should be making the claim that CBD oil (or any other type of CBD product) can be used on its own to establish and maintain a healthy heart.
Additional Studies and Research on the Use of CBD for Heart Health
Again, we remind readers that observations made in small-scale academic studies do not hold the same clinical merit as do the results of something like a large scale, multi-stage clinical trial. With that being said, several publications have surfaced in recent years suggesting that CBD may be beneficial for the heart and general cardiovascular health.
In addition to the study referenced above, a 2017 randomized study in The American Society for Clinical Investigation notes how a “single [600mg] dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers.” In the study, researchers made the conclusion based on several cardiovascular parameters that CBD possesses “numerous cardiovascular benefits, including a reduced blood pressure (BP) response to stress.”
Furthermore, a 2010 publication in the British Journal of Pharmacology discusses how CBD can “suppress cardiac arrhythmias and reduce infarct size” when administered acutely in vivo. Details of the study note that dose-dependent administration of CBD was able to reduce the “total number of ischaemia-induced arrhythmias, [as well as] infarct size when administered prior to ischaemia.” (Ischaemia is a condition wherein localized organs or muscle tissues do not receive an adequate blood supply from the heart). Researchers concluded that “CBD is cardioprotective,” at least in the acute phase of ischaemia and reperfusion (reperfusion refers to the process of blood flow restoration after a heart attack or stroke).
Lastly, it’s worth pointing out that there is an active clinical trial taking place out of the University of British Columbia that aims to “improve [the] understanding of how CBD might control and regulate blood vessel health [and] cognitive and exercise performance.” Depending on the results of the study, this clinical trial will likely offer advanced insight into the practical uses of CBD for general cardiovascular health.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Heart Health and Cardiovascular Benefits
It’s clear that CBD possesses characteristics that are beneficial for heart health. Through research, we understand that the compound can lower blood pressure, produce vasorelaxation, improve the structural integrity of arterial walls, and act as a cardioprotective agent during ischemic and reperfusion events.
That said, advanced clinical trials are needed before anyone can make the claim that CBD can be used to treat or prevent cardiovascular conditions. If you are considering using CBD oil for heart health, be sure to speak with your physician prior to doing so. Also, be mindful of the fact that CBD oil quality varies tremendously on the current market. Do plenty of research, look at lab reports, and read real customer reviews before investing in any particular brand or product.