Since cannabinoids also mop up free radicals — and improve the effects of other antioxidants in the body — CBD may also protect against heart disease by reducing the cellular damage that happens when we’re exposed to free-radical producers like processed foods and environmental pollution.
It starts inside your arteries. When the linings of your artery walls are injured, they build up plaque that can cause the arteries to narrow. This is called atherosclerosis; it’s a prevalent form of heart disease. Inflammation is a leading cause of this type of injury, as is high blood pressure. Exposure to tiny chronic doses of THC has been shown to slow the progression of atherosclerosis in animal studies.
Research shows that CBD also can suppress irregular heartbeat caused by stroke-induced ischemia (inadequate blood supply to the heart) and can minimize tissue damage caused by the lack of oxygen. A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that when rats were given CBD 10 minutes before a 30-minute coronary artery occlusion (partial or complete obstruction of blood flow in the coronary artery, which may cause chest pain, heart attack, and tissue damage) or 10 minutes before blood flow was restored, they experienced fewer arrhythmias and less tissue damage than rats not given CBD . Research in this area is still in the early stage, but it already shows great potential.
Inside Your Arteries
Similarly, a stroke, which is sometimes called “ brain attack,” occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or reduced. So the same precautions that protect against heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease (like diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle that can include CBD supplementation) can help prevent stroke. CBD can also play a key role in protecting the brain after a stroke.
An excerpt from The Essential Guide to CBD by the editors of Reader’s Digest & Project CBD .
Heart disease is a catchall phrase for the disease that develops when the arteries of the heart cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart, leading to events like heart attack. It’s the leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 655,000 Americans each year, which is about one in every four deaths. Key risk factors for heart disease include unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, diabetes, overweight and obesity, and excessive alcohol use.
CBD may also protect against cardiac arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, where the heart beats too fast, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. Arrhythmias can be brought on by long-term stress, as high cortisol levels can raise blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides, and other risk factors for heart disease in general. CBD ’s anti-anxiety properties can help combat stress, lower cortisol, and protect against arrhythmias related to those causes.
Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity: “Therapeutic Applications of Cannabinoids in Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure.”
JCI Insight: “A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study.”
Some of CBD’s proven benefits in other health conditions may be intriguing to people living with heart failure, Allen says.
CBD May Have Health Risks
ClinicalTrials.gov: “Cannabidiol in Patients With Heart Failure in AHA/ACC Stages A-C (CAPITAL-AC).” NCT03634189.
“There are no known cardiovascular benefits for cannabis or cannabidiol, and there may even be some adverse effects, so people should not take these products and think that it will have positive effects on their cardiovascular health,” says Allen, who’s also co-author of the American Heart Association’s statement on all cannabis products.
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.”
Larry Allen, MD, MHS, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.