Endocannabinoid Receptors in the Heart
There are endocannabinoid receptors in the heart, but what exactly is their role and how can we use that to our advantage?
Decades of research has indicated that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a huge role in health and disease, including the formation and progression of cardiovascular disease (CVD), neurological disorders, and even cancer (1).
The truth is that 25% of patients who have had a myocardial infarction (heart attack) will have another one within a span of 5 years, even with statin therapy (cholesterol lowering medications) (1). This is due to the ongoing process of inflammation within the coronary arteries, which statin drugs can’t stop. This means that those who suffer from cardiovascular disease need all the help they can get to prevent this inflammatory process that is happening within the cardiovascular system so we can reduce the chance of another heart attack.
CB2 receptor activation through cannabinoids like CBD, were shown to have therapeutic potential for the treatment of CVD, due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (1). What a more exciting thing knowing that your daily intake of CBD is also protecting your heart and blood vessels. Check this out.
There are CB1 and CB2 receptors present in cardiac tissue and studies show that these receptors (mainly CB2 receptors) are activated by endocannabinoids when there is damage to cardiac tissue, indicating that cannabinoid receptors play a protective role for cardiac cells (2). This receptor (CB2) is also a favorable receptor to use as a treatment option because this receptor is acted on by CBD, which means there is no psychoactive effects (no high) associated with this cannabinoid, which is mainly present in immune cells in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) (1).
Studies show that endocannabinoids act as the “good guys” in cardiovascular pathology, which is crucial because they play a protective role against inflammation through their antioxidant properties, helping to reduce oxidation and inflammation, both which play a huge role in the formation and progression of atherosclerosis (build of of fatty plaque) (2).
In mice, cardiac artery occlusion (cutting off circulation to the heart, similar to a heart attack) was initiated and studies suggested that administration of cannabinoids like CBD prior to artery occlusion helped to improve reperfusion therapy by increase blood supply and restoring blood flow, which helped to reduce the size of the infarct (local area of dead tissue from lack of blood supply) (2).
The study also suggested that CB2 receptors mediate immune response and inflammation, indicating that activation of this receptor can help to protect our heart and blood vessels during times of excessive oxidation and inflammation (2). Cannabinoids, through their antioxidant properties, were shown to reduce lesion progression in apolipoprotein E, which helps reduce the formation of atherosclerosis (cholesterol rich plaque) on the inner lining of our blood vessels (2).
These antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that CBD exhibits when acting on CB2 receptors is great news for those that have CVD because this receptors activation helps to reduce inflammation and helps to protect the heart and blood vessels from this inflammatory reaction, helping to protect the heart from any further damage that a cardiac event inflicts.
We want to protect the heart and the blood vessels any chance we get. Studies show that activation of CB2 receptors through cannabinoids like CBD show a huge promise for being a potential treatment option for those that have CVD (2).
One amazing plant with a huge promise for our health and wellness, especially when it comes to the health of our heart and blood vessels.
One plant with seemingly endless benefits. Now that's what I call medicine.
*This information is for educational purposes only and simply sharing information regarding these studies. No medical advice or claims are being made.
- Fulmer, M. L., & Thewke, D. P. (2018). The Endocannabinoid System and Heart Disease: The Role of Cannabinoid Receptor Type 2. Cardiovascular & hematological disorders drug targets, 18(1), 34–51. https://doi.org/10.2174/1871529X18666180206161457
- Hiley C. R. (2009). Endocannabinoids and the heart. Journal of cardiovascular pharmacology, 53(4), 267–276. https://doi.org/10.1097/FJC.0b013e318192671d