Does CBD Oil Lower Blood Pressure? What the Research Says
CBD oil has been hailed as a cure-all for a variety of conditions, but what do researchers have to say about CBD oil and blood pressure?
Does CBD oil lower blood pressure, or is it an unfounded claim? Is it possible to skip the expensive doctors’ visits and burdensome trips to the pharmacy?
We wouldn’t go that far. Hypertension is a risk factor in heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Even though it’s common, it’s a serious issue.
However, there are many steps you can take to naturally reduce your blood pressure, one of which may be by using CBD oil for hypertension.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. As blood is pumped through your blood vessels, they undergo a degree of force. If you have high blood pressure, this force can damage the walls of your blood vessels, veins and arteries.
High blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular complications such as heart disease, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm and heart failure. The condition is exacerbated by type 2 diabetes, stress, anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, a diet high in salt, and alcohol and tobacco use.
Lowering High Blood Pressure: CBD and Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be naturally lowered by reducing stress, salt intake, and consumption of alcohol and tobacco. You can also lower your blood pressure by exercising regularly and eating more fruits and vegetables.
Your doctor may prescribe medications that can lower blood pressure. Many of these medications, such as calcium channel blockers and ACE-inhibitors, cause side effects like headaches, dizziness, constipation and swollen ankles.
New evidence links CBD to a decrease in blood pressure. For many people, CBD oil has fewer side effects than prescription medications.
We spoke with Rebecca Park, registered nurse and founder of RemediesForMe.com, who told us that CBD oil tinctures made using hemp have very few side effects and are generally well tolerated.
If you are already on high blood pressure medications, consult your physician before using CBD oil, as there may be interactions.
What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid, which is a cannabinoid found in the marijuana or hemp plant. CBD oil is cannabidiol extracted from the cannabis plant, often diluted in coconut or hemp oil. Unlike its marijuana-derived counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol does not get you high. Instead, most users report that CBD makes them feel relaxed and calm, among other generally positive effects.
According to federal law, hemp-derived CBD oil is classified as having less than 0.3% THC, making it legal to purchase and use. Hemp has minuscule amounts of THC content, so CBD oil from this type of cannabis plant does not cause any of the intoxicating side effects. Marijuana-derived CBD oil, on the other hand, often contains more than 0.3% THC and is only legal in states with medical or recreational marijuana legalization.
Though it comes in a wide variety of forms such as powders, lotions and beverages, cannabidiol is most popularly consumed as a sublingual oil. You simply place a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue and let it sit for 30 to 90 seconds.
CBD oil is commonly used to treat or supplement treatment of chronic pain, inflammation, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and more. Park added that CBD oil is commonly used by people suffering from a myriad of mental disorders.
“CBD can be effective in treating: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, anxiety related insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” she said.
Additionally, emerging evidence shows that CBD may use the same mechanism to treat high blood pressure as it does to reduce anxiety.
How CBD Interacts with the Endocannabinoid System and Body
The endocannabinoid system is a biological system in your body that allows cannabinoids to bind your brain’s receptors. In fact, your body naturally produces cannabinoids every day.
This system has two main receptors, called CB1 and CB2. THC binds directly to the CB1 receptor, affecting the areas of the brain that influence memory, motor coordination, time perception, as well as the CB2 receptors, which affects the pain center in your brain and manages inflammation in the body. This interaction between THC and the endocannabinoid system is what causes the psychoactive side effects that marijuana is historically known for.
On the other hand, cannabidiol does not directly bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, it causes a number of indirect actions leading to therapeutic benefits, such as activating TRPV1 receptors that regulate pain, body temperature, and inflammation.
Does CBD Oil Lower Blood Pressure?
While Park told us that high blood pressure can be caused by a number of factors, CBD oil can lower blood pressure caused by stress and anxiety.
She explained that when emotional or physical stress is high, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol can raise blood pressure.
“CBD lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, allowing more blood flow, leading to lower blood pressure,” Park said.
Park pointed to a study of 11 participants that showed CBD oil may lower the levels of cortisol produced in the body. This study showed that volunteers saw a significant reduction in cortisol production when given 300 mg and 600 mg of CBD compared to the placebo control.
In a 2017 study, a single dose of 600 mg of CBD oil or placebo was administered to nine healthy male volunteers. The resulting data showed that acute administration of CBD reduced resting blood pressure compared to the placebo.
The men were then given a series of stress tests to increase heart rate. The men who were given 600 mg of CBD had lower stress-induced blood pressure spikes than the control group.
It’s amazing, but it’s true. A single dose of 600 mg of CBD lowered the blood pressure of men who were resting or under stress.
The sample size of these studies was small and further research is required to establish whether CBD has a role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders, but the results are promising.
How CBD Can Help With Hypertension
As Park explained, hypertension can be caused by many factors. Fortunately, there are several health benefits of CBD that could indirectly help with hypertension.
Anxiety can catalyze a rapid heart rate and palpitations, leaving you at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
CBD oil has been shown to reduce anxiety in animal studies by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA). This study demonstrated that symptoms that accompany anxiety, like high blood pressure and rapid heart rate, were improved by use of CBD.
Inflammation doesn’t only occur in your joints. In fact, research shows that CBD oil can reduce inflammation in the heart and blood vessels in the brain.
Called a “vasorelaxant” by researchers, CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory properties may lower blood pressure by allowing the free flow of blood through your heart, arteries and veins.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), acute pain can lead to high blood pressure. Because CBD acts on the pain receptors in the brain, the pain-relieving properties of CBD could lead to decreased blood pressure.
CBD Improves Sleep
As CBD reduces stress, you may see an increase in your quality of sleep.
Sarah Polansky, owner and developer of the CBD brand Prismatic Plants, told Public Goods that, “The more you take CBD and help to regulate your adrenals, the less likely you’ll feel fatigued as your body returns to a state of balance rather than constant stress.”
She added, “This means your need for caffeine consumption could decrease and your quality of sleep could improve, which has a waterfall benefit for increasing overall health.”
What’s The Best CBD Dosage for High Blood Pressure?
Because the FDA has not approved over-the-counter CBD products, there is no official recommendation for a dose of CBD. The right dose depends on your weight, genetics, sex and medical history. More studies need to be conducted with humans to get an accurate dosage.
Many CBD oils come in dropperful (1 ml) doses of 10 mg/ml. Park said the effective therapeutic dose is in the range of 20 mg to 300 mg, or 2 to 30 dropperfuls.
In a 2018 study, researchers found that a dose of 300 mg was most effective for reducing anxiety in a simulated public speaking trial. Participants who took 150 mg or 600 mg did not receive the same benefit.
Meanwhile, in the aforementioned study of nine healthy male volunteers, blood pressure was effectively lowered with a single dose of 600 mg.
The best way to determine how effective a dose of CBD will be for you is to start small and frequently check your blood pressure using an electronic cuff. Write down the dose you took and the time you took it, as well as your blood pressure reading. Over time, you should be able to obtain a clearer picture of what dose will help you achieve low blood pressure.
Park noted that, “If CBD works for you, without the use of other medications, I would say it is a great and safe alternative.” CBD may not be a replacement for exercise and a healthy diet, but it is nice to know you might be able to lower your blood pressure with a few drops under the tongue.