Does CBD Help With Blood Pressure?
One in three American adults has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Although high blood pressure causes no obvious symptoms, it puts you at risk for the leading causes of death in the United States: heart disease and stroke. Unfortunately, only about half of those with high blood pressure have the condition under control.
There are many medications on the market that help to manage high blood pressure. However, many consumers are increasingly concerned with the cost and side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. As a result, they’re turning toward basic lifestyle changes like diet and exercise and natural remedies to lower their blood pressure.
The popularity of CBD as a natural health supplement has skyrocketed in recent years. While CBD is well-known for its ability to treat epilepsy, PTSD, and anxiety, new clinical research suggests that CBD oil may be effective for lowering blood pressure in adults.
In this guide, we’ll cover the latest research looking at the link between CBD, the cardiovascular system, and high blood pressure, plus everything you need to know about CBD, including how it works, how to take CBD, and how to find the best CBD available.
What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally-occurring molecule known as a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids represent a diverse family of chemical compounds named for their discovery in the cannabis plant. Cannabis naturally produces dozens of cannabinoids, but CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most abundant.
In recent years, CBD has gained an incredible amount of attention from research scientists, the media, and consumers. That’s because CBD harnesses many of the therapeutic properties of cannabis, but, unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get you high.
CBD works by interacting with your body’s endocannabinoid system. This complex biological system was also named for its association with cannabis. However, researchers have since discovered that the endocannabinoid system acts as a master regulator of the human body and is critical for survival.
The main function of the endocannabinoid system is to promote homeostasis or the state of stable balance that our bodies require to function properly. It does this by regulating a wide variety of processes and systems such as internal temperature, sleep patterns, digestion, mood, and immunity.
The endocannabinoid system is made up of three main components:
- Endocannabinoids: these are cannabinoids made by our body that help control the activity of the endocannabinoid system.
- Receptors: Endocannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors present on the surface of cells in our brains and throughout the body. Receptor binding activates the endocannabinoid system and helps transmit the molecular signal from cell to cell. CB1 and CB2 are the most well-studied endocannabinoid receptors.
- Enzymes: Specialized enzymes are important for building and breaking down endocannabinoid compounds.
CBD is most frequently used in the form of CBD oil, a plant-based extract similar to an essential oil. CBD oil is rich in CBD, but also contains other naturally-occurring cannabinoids and terpenes which have their own unique, therapeutic benefits. The majority of CBD oil that you’ll find for sale online is made from hemp, a low-THC variety of cannabis that’s non-psychoactive and legal in the U.S.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force exerted by your blood against the walls of your arteries, which carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Fluctuations in your blood pressure are normal and your blood pressure will naturally rise and drop throughout the day. But if your blood pressure stays elevated for prolonged periods of time, it’s known as hypertension or high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Genetics and family history
- Tobacco and alcohol use
- Physical inactivity
- Prolonged stress
High blood pressure is incredibly common. A staggering one in three American adults suffers from hypertension. If left untreated, high blood pressure can weaken your arteries and blood vessels and lead to heart disease and stroke.
Blood Pressure Categories
Blood pressure readings are recorded as two numbers. The first number is your systolic blood pressure or the pressure your blood is exerting during a heartbeat. The second number is your diastolic blood pressure or the pressure your blood is exerting when the heart is at rest between beats. Blood pressure readings are measured in millimeters of mercury or mm Hg. Early pressure gauges used mercury and this unit is still used today in medicine as the standard unit of measurement for pressure.
According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure can be categorized into five levels:
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg. If you’re in this range, continue practicing healthy diet and exercise habits.
- Elevated: 120-129/80 mm Hg. This range puts you at risk of developing high blood pressure. You should begin to take steps to avoid developing hypertension.
- Hypertension Stage 1: 130-139/80-89 mm Hg. This is the first stage of high blood pressure where medical providers will encourage lifestyle changes and may potentially prescribe blood pressure medication. Your risk of heart attack and stroke is increased at this stage.
- Hypertension Stage 2: 140/90 mm Hg or higher. This stage of hypertension will likely require blood pressure medication and lifestyle changes to correct.
- Hypertensive Crisis: 180/120 mm Hg. This level requires immediate medical attention. If your blood pressure is higher than this and you are using an at-home blood pressure tester, call 911 because this level could be a sign of organ failure.
High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer.” There are usually no obvious warning signs and most people don’t even know they have it. That’s why it’s crucial to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis.
Your yearly physical is the perfect time to have your doctor measure your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is outside of the normal range, your doctor may suggest testing your blood pressure at home between doctor’s visits.
Does CBD Oil Lower Blood Pressure?
Luckily, there are many options for preventing and controlling high blood pressure. But what does the research say when it comes to CBD and blood pressure? There are quite a few preclinical studies (studies using animals to test a medical treatment) showing that CBD has beneficial effects in the cardiovascular system.
Multiple studies have shown that CBD acts as a vasorelaxant—this means CBD reduces the tension within the blood vessels. It also protects against damage caused by high blood glucose, type 2 diabetes, and inflammation and reduces the cardiovascular response to stress. Overall, CBD appears to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the cardiovascular system.
Unfortunately, clinical research in humans is limited. However, the results of a small 2017 clinical study are promising and show that a single dose of CBD reduces blood pressure. The researchers gave nine healthy male volunteers a 600 mg dose of CBD or a placebo. They then monitored the participants’ cardiovascular parameters including blood pressure and heart rate. The researchers found that a single dose of CBD reduced resting blood pressure by an average of 6 mm Hg.
The participants were also subjected to stress including mental, exercise, and cold stress tests. CBD decreased the rise in blood pressure associated with the stress response.
CBD can also be used to manage other factors that may exacerbate the effects of high blood pressure. Anxiety can cause undue levels of stressful feelings. So far, the research evidence supports CBD as a treatment for anxiety. Additionally, CBD has protective effects against inflammation.
It’s important to note that while the research is promising, CBD is not a cure-all for high blood pressure. It also hasn’t been approved by the FDA to treat blood pressure. If you’re considering using CBD, make sure you consult with your physician first. CBD should be just one aspect of your high blood pressure treatment which should also include your doctor’s recommendations and a healthy lifestyle.
Aside from high blood pressure, CBD has additional benefits for a wide variety of ailments. Here’s a list of some of the other major conditions that CBD can help improve.
- Anxiety and Depression: Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from depression. And often, those with depression also have many symptoms of anxiety. Interestingly, CBD interacts with several receptors that control anxiety-related behavior. The current research points to CBD as being a promising treatment for both anxiety-related disorders as well as depression.
- Chronic Pain: The endocannabinoid system has proven to be an important player when it comes to regulating pain. Using CBD to activate your endocannabinoid system can help soothe otherwise difficult to manage pain.
- PTSD: Around 8% of adults in the United States will experience symptoms of PTSD at some point in their lives. However, there is no FDA-approved medication specifically designed to treat PTSD. CBD can help reduce the symptoms of PTSD, likely by helping people better process the memories of traumatic events.
- Epilepsy: A great deal of CBD’s coverage in the media has come from its ability to treat seizure disorders or epilepsy. In 2018, CBD was approved by the FDA to treat several rare and severe forms of childhood epilepsy. Scientists believe that CBD’s powerful anticonvulsant effects come from its ability to bind certain receptors in the brain and lower neuronal excitability.
- Chemo Symptoms: Chemotherapy is an important tool in the fight against cancer. However, the powerful medications used to treat cancer can often bring unwanted side effects. Emerging research shows that CBD may be able to help prevent some of the side effects of chemo. One clinical study showed that cannabis extract containing CBD was effective in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV).
- Skin problems: CBD may be an effective treatment for skin conditions like psoriasis, likely as a result of the endocannabinoid system’s role in regulating inflammation.
- GI issues: Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders including Gastritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease appear to be on the rise around the world and represent a significant burden on the U.S. healthcare system. The GI tract contains all the components of the endocannabinoid system (endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes), making it a prime candidate for cannabinoid treatment. To date, the research shows that CBD represents a safe and inexpensive treatment for those suffering from GI disorders.
Is It Safe to Use CBD?
Generally, CBD is considered safe for use by adults. There are a number of ailments for which CBD is frequently used (see ’Additional Uses’ above). And when compared to the commonly prescribed medications for these conditions, CBD actually has a better side effect profile.
With the popularity of CBD on the rise, the World Health Organization (WHO) has conducted several comprehensive and critical reviews evaluating the safety and addiction potential of CBD. In their 2018 report, the WHO concluded that CBD is “well tolerated with a good safety profile.” Additionally, the WHO found no evidence that CBD is prone to abuse or dependence.
However, there are potential side effects when taking CBD. The side effects of CBD are usually mild and may include:
- Appetite changes
- Drug interactions
More vulnerable groups should refrain from using CBD. This includes:
- Children: CBD has been used to successfully treat rare forms of severe epilepsy in children. However, the long term effects of CBD during childhood development have not been studied in-depth. Luckily, children generally don’t suffer from high blood pressure.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women: Again, the effects of CBD haven’t been well-studied in this context. The current research points to CBD being safe for adults, but the prenatal effects and effects on newborns are unknown.
- People taking prescription medications: If you’re currently taking any prescriptions, check with your doctor first. CBD has been shown to interact with certain medications.
CBD Dosage Tips
If you’re planning on taking CBD for hypertension or any other ailment, it’s important to first consider the proper dosage. Like any medication or supplement, the amount of CBD that you take will depend on several factors including your weight, genetics, experience level, and desired effects. Consult with your doctor before taking CBD and ask for guidance in determining the dose that’s right for you.
You can also read our detailed CBD dosage guide for more information. We recommend starting low and going slow. Begin with the lowest dosage recommended for your weight. From there, slowly increase your dosage if needed.
Another important consideration is the method of ingestion. There are many ways to take CBD, but each method has its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Additionally, certain methods may suit you better depending on your symptoms and personal preferences. Here are the most common ways to take CBD.
Vaping CBD oil using an electronic vape pen is an increasingly popular method for consuming CBD. This method has one primary advantage—it’s incredibly fast-acting. When you inhale vaporized CBD oil into your lungs, CBD enters the bloodstream instantly and the effects can be felt almost immediately.
However, the effects of vaping are also not as long-lived as other methods, lasting only about two to three hours. And while vaping is generally considered safer than smoking, smoking is known to cause high blood pressure. Check with your physician to determine whether vaping CBD is a safe option for you.
Sublingual tinctures like CBD oil are administered under your tongue using a dropper. The tincture is then held there for 30 seconds to one minute before swallowing. This allows the CBD to be directly absorbed through the mucous membrane in your mouth. The effects are felt within 20 minutes and can last up to 6 hours.
Many people prefer this method as it’s easier to administer a precise dose of CBD. It also allows you to enjoy CBD in its purest form without the flavors or additives that often come with vape oils, edibles, or topical products.
CBD can also be ingested orally with edible products including gummies, chocolates, lollipops, baked goods, drink mixes, capsules, soft gels, and more. This method is one of the more discreet and convenient options available, but it’s also the slowest acting option ranging from 30 minutes to two hours to take effect.
*Note: Topicals are another popular method for taking CBD and can be very effective for pain management or skin problems. However, topicals applied to the skin are not effective at regulating internal processes such as blood pressure.
How to Buy CBD Oil for Blood Pressure
As CBD’s popularity continues to grow, more and more CBD brands are popping up online to fill the increasing demand. But not all CBD is created equal. As a supplement, CBD products are only loosely regulated and a product that is advertised as “CBD oil” may not actually have much or any CBD in it.
You’ll need to do a bit of research if you want to find high-quality CBD oil. Here’s what to look for when shopping.
- Concentration: Choosing a CBD oil that allows you to get the proper dosage is crucial. Everyone’s needs are different so first determine the right dosage for you. Once you know how many milligrams (mg) of CBD you’ll be taking, you can choose the CBD oil that best suits your needs. Look for brands that offer CBD oil concentrations close to your dosage range. For example, if your desired dosage is 50 mg, look for a CBD oil that’s close to 50 mg per serving.
- Third-Party Testing: No matter what your CBD needs, you should only buy CBD oil from companies that use third-party labs to test their products. Lab testing ensures the CBD oil is the right potency and free from harmful contaminants like pesticides and heavy metals. And testing performed by an independent lab guarantees that the results are unbiased.
- Extraction Method: A trustworthy CBD brand will be transparent about their manufacturing process and extraction method. The most common and safest extraction methods are CO2 and ethanol extraction. We don’t recommend CBD oils extracted using harmful solvents like butane.
- Hemp Quality: The best CBD oil comes from high-quality hemp. Look for companies that use organic hemp grown locally or in the United States.
- Brand: Aside from the above factors, make sure to research the reputation of any brand or company by reading reviews before making a purchase. Choose reputable brands that don’t make exaggerated claims about their products.
Check out our other in-depth resource guides to learn more about CBD and its many uses.