7 Facts About Cannabis And Heart Health
The effects of cannabis on the heart is a hot topic. Mainstream media reports that cannabis use is bad for the heart, yet many people continue to experience the health benefits of cannabis for cardiovascular health.
To clear the smoke, here’s what science says about cannabis and heart health:
- Cannabis can cause temporary heart palpitations. However, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Heart palpitations may occur after consuming pot especially when the strains involved are high in tetrayhydrocannabidiol (THC), the primary psychoactive in cannabis. THC is a vasodilator, which means that it causes the blood vessels to expand, resulting in reduced blood pressure and increased heart rate. This is the reason why some people experience a racing heart after smoking extremely potent strains. If you’re prone to heart palpitations with strong pot, the remedy is simple: opt for strains that have a lower THC percentage. As a general rule of thumb, go for strains that have 10% THC or less; better yet, microdose.
- If you already have heart disease, you’re better off using strains high in CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis but it has tremendous health benefits. Since CBD doesn’t get you high, individuals with heart disease, the elderly, or those who are in poor health may benefit more from consuming high CBD strains. We have CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the cardiovascular system, although it may aggravate atherosclerosis if you have heart problems to begin with.
- CBD protects the arteries. Studies show that CBD is effective in reducing vascular tension, which occurs when the blood vessels are strained. The same study also showed that CBD protects the heart from the damage caused by sugar (diabetes). Additionally, the same review confirms that cannabis can reduce the inflammation that is associated by diabetes, since inflammation puts serious strain on the heart.
- Cannabis can help prevent chronic heart failure. Studies show that deficiencies in the endocannabinoid system may contribute to heart failure. Animal models that had lower levels of CB1 receptors had a smaller chance of surviving heart failure and were also more prone to suffering from heart abnormalities compared to mice who had healthy CB1 expression. The study’s authors said: “In this study, we found that CB1 deficiency contributed to the exacerbation of chronic cardiac remodeling…revealing a new role of CB1 in pathophysiology of chronic heart failure.”
- Cannabis may protect the brain after a stroke. A 1998 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that CBD and THC can protect the brain from the damage caused by a stroke. The study, which used animal models, stated that CBD is “a better candidate” for stroke victims because of the absence of psychoactive properties. According to the study, cannabinoids were effective in blocking glutamate, a neurochemical that causes toxic accumulation which in turn kills brain cells. The body produces glutamate when the brain doesn’t have enough oxygen supply, which occurs in cases of an arterial hemorrhage or a blood clot. Additionally, the study also concluded that CBD is more effective in terms of antioxidant properties than vitamins A or E.
- Cannabis may prevent atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, a condition wherein artery walls are blocked, is one of the top causes of heart disease and stroke. A 2005 study published in the journal Nature showed that THC, even when consumed in low doses acted on the CB2 receptors in the immune system which decreased the severity of a stroke. Another study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, revealed that CBD was beneficial in reducing inflammation as well as other symptoms of atherosclerosis. The study said: “Our results suggest that CBD, which has recently been approved for the treatment of inflammation, pain, and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis in humans, may have significant therapeutic benefits against diabetic complications and atherosclerosis.”
- Hempseed oil can increase good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol. A 2006 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that 30ml of hempseed oil a day for 4 weeks reduced the ratio of total to high density lipoprotein, which means a reduction in the risk for heart disease. Additionally, an April 2008 study published in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology showed that hempseed oil can mitigate the effects of high cholesterol, even if it doesn’t necessarily reduce cholesterol levels, due to its gamma linolenic acid content.