CBD and Heart Health
We know that CBD has some amazing health benefits, but what can CBD do for our heart health?
In my undergrad I received my B.S. in Alternative Medicine where I focused on the health benefits of cannabinoid therapy as well as focusing on cardiovascular disease (CVD). I found it so interesting that the number one cause of death here in America, as well as around the world was heart disease (1).
In 2020 alone about 697,000 people died from CVD, which is about 1 person dying every 34 seconds (1). CVD is mainly driven by lifestyle factors like a poor diet (processed foods, fast food, alcohol, smoking, etc.), living a sedentary lifestyle (lack of physical activity), poor sleeping patterns, and even poor stress management (2).
The best way to treat and prevent CVD is to make some lifestyle adjustments, no doubt, but what if we could use CBD to improve our cardiovascular health?
CBD has beneficial properties that can be applied to most chronic diseases, including CVD. The first part of understanding CVD is understanding the disease process. CVD is a blanket term that is used to describe coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease (PAD), cerebrovascular disease, and myocardial infarctions (heart attack) (2).
When poor lifestyle factors start to catch up with us, we can experience things like high cholesterol, which is a fatty plaque build up inside of our arteries (atherosclerosis). This fatty plaque buildup will eventually start to affect our artery’s ability to regulate blood pressure because they are unable to dilate and constrict as needed because of this fatty plaque buildup (arteriosclerosis). Simply put, high cholesterol leads to high blood pressure if not managed with some lifestyle adjustments.
Of course you can always take a pharmaceutical to improve the symptoms of high cholesterol and blood pressure, but this simply covers up a symptom and never addresses the root cause, not to mention they have some costly side effects that come along with it.
This means that as soon as you stop taking your medications that problem is still there. What most people don’t know (by design) is they are never really addressing the root cause of their “disease”, (which I say lightly) when using pills to mask a symptom. These “diseases” are nothing more than a result of what we are doing to our body. It is a warning sign that our body is telling us and if not addressed, it will lead to much bigger problems like a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or a stroke (cerebral vascular accident).
Another big issue with heart disease is stress. Stress plays a huge role in the development of chronic diseases, including CVD (3). A huge role in improving how we manage heart disease includes managing stress. You may have heard me say this before, but we live in a time where everything is so face-paced and this fast paced lifestyle is more than I believe we were meant to handle, which is why so many individuals stay in a never ending cycle of stress.
CBD has anti-anxiety (anxiolytic) properties that were shown to reduce our response to stress. This means that CBD can reduce stress, but also improve how we respond to stress. CBD was shown to have a positive impact on our cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure and lowering stress, both of which play a role in the development of CVD (high blood pressure, heart attacks, etc. (3).
Studies show that CBD was also shown to offer some blood pressure lowering capabilities through vasorelaxation, which in turn has a huge impact on our heart health (3).
This whole process of CVD involves an inflammatory process accompanied by oxidation inside our arteries, which is where CBD will come in and play a factor due to CBD’s anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and antioxidant properties (3).
One study concluded that CBD can protect against ischemia reperfusion damage that is associated with diabetes, CBD was also shown to reduce the size of infarct (area of tissue that isn’t receiving blood flow from a heart attack or stroke), improve blood flow to the area of infarct following a heart attack or stroke, as well as help our white blood cells travel to areas of infection to better defend ourselves (3).
The truth is, CBD has such amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that medical researchers are beginning to study how they can be used to address chronic disease, not just CVD (3).
What makes CBD so amazing is the safety profile from these plant compounds, which is something that can’t be said about pharmaceuticals. All pharmaceuticals come with package inserts that tell you about the “possible” side effects that come from the drug's use, and these often times are extensive and can cost people their lives.
What is making medical researchers even more fascinated is that these long lists of negative side effects are absent when discussing the use of cannabinoids, which gives these plant compounds the edge when talking about the safety profile.
Nature's finest plant compounds and for good reasons, even when it comes to heart health. This is plant medicine.
*This information is for educational purposes and simply sharing of the information pertained to these particular studies. No medical claims are being made.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, October 14). Heart disease facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 26, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm#:~:text=Heart%20disease%20is%20the%20leading,groups%20in%20the%20United%20States.&text=One%20person%20dies%20every%2034,United%20States%20from%20cardiovascular%20disease.
- Stewart, J., Manmathan, G., & Wilkinson, P. (2017). Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: A review of contemporary guidance and literature. JRSM cardiovascular disease, 6, 2048004016687211. https://doi.org/10.1177/2048004016687211
- Stanley, C. P., Hind, W. H., & O'Sullivan, S. E. (2013). Is the cardiovascular system a therapeutic target for cannabidiol?. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 75(2), 313–322.https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04351.x