High blood pressure affects nearly half (47%) of all adults in the United States. Approximately one in three adults with high blood pressure don’t know they have it. Uncontrolled, this condition can lead to severe health complications.
As interest in medical cannabis as an alternative treatment for various health conditions grows, many people are wondering what effect cannabis could have on high blood pressure. Currently, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. You may hear some people say that smoking increases blood pressure, not unlike smoking tobacco products. Others say that it lowers your blood pressure. So, could medical cannabis offer an alternative treatment? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
Your blood pressure is the force your blood places on the walls of your veins and arteries as your heart pumps it through your circulatory system. A healthy or “normal” blood pressure is less than 120/80. High blood pressure — 130/80 or higher — occurs when the force or pressure of this process is consistently too high. As a result, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body.
Several factors increase an individual’s risk of developing high blood pressure, including:
- Family history
- Certain medications
- Health conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, kidney disease, thyroid issues, metabolic syndrome
- Overweight or obesity
- Too many unhealthy foods
- Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol
- Smoking tobacco products
- Poor sleep quality
- Lack of physical activity
- Chronic stress
Those with high blood pressure have an increased risk of developing several significant health issues, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart attack
- Kidney damage or failure
- Vision problems
- Cognitive issues
Hypertension doesn’t usually cause many — if any — noticeable symptoms early on. Often, symptoms don’t appear until more severe problems begin developing.
Traditional Treatments for Hypertension
There are a few treatments for high blood pressure that doctors may recommend. One of the most common is lifestyle changes, such as:
- Altering your diet (consuming more heart-healthy foods, reducing salt, alcohol, and caffeine intake)
- Increasing physical activity
- Weight loss
- Reducing stress levels
For some, these changes are enough. When they aren’t, doctors may also recommend prescription medications. Common medications include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
While these medications may help, they may also cause some unwanted side effects. While they vary from one prescription to the next, you may experience headaches, dizziness, weakness, fatigue, or heart palpitations. Some can cause stomach and digestive problems or swelling of the legs and feet. Suddenly stopping a blood pressure medication can also cause issues such as anxiety, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and higher blood pressure.
The Relationship Between Cannabis and Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that cannabis has several potential health benefits. People take medical cannabis to help manage a wide range of health conditions. But can it aid in the management of high blood pressure?
The Role of the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for regulating numerous functions within the body. Evidence shows it may also play a role in blood pressure regulation. Endocannabinoids — anandamide, in particular — appear to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. They also widen your blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow through your veins and arteries. In other words, the vasodilation effect helps lower blood pressure.
The effects of endocannabinoids on blood pressure have led to wondering if cannabinoids, the compounds in cannabis, could offer an alternative treatment for hypertension. After all, cannabinoids interact with the receptors of your ECS similarly to your own endocannabinoids, helping to restore balance.
What the Studies Say
Current evidence shows cannabis can affect your blood pressure in different ways. Studies have found that smoking can temporarily increase your heart rate and blood pressure immediately after use. However, they’ve also demonstrated that cannabis may have a hypotensive effect. After the initial increase, cannabis users may experience lower blood pressure levels.
Some studies have shown there may be a link between your frequency of use and the impact of cannabis on your blood pressure levels. They observed that an increase in blood pressure occurs in occasional users, while regular users see either no change or a decrease in their blood pressure.
THC vs. CBD
You may be familiar with the two main cannabinoids in cannabis — THC and CBD. Studies have shown that, although different, these two compounds may offer a range of potential health benefits. When it comes to blood pressure and heart rate, however, some research shows they may work against one another. THC may raise your levels, while CBD may help lower them. Other studies have also found a link between CBD and lower blood pressure.
Cannabis and Traditional Treatment Methods
One thing those interested in trying medical cannabis for high blood pressure treatment need to keep in mind is that they should consult with their physician first. While cannabis may have hypotensive effects that could help you manage your blood pressure, the compounds in the plant may interact with your current prescription medications.
For instance, cannabis with some prescriptions could cause your blood pressure to drop too low, which could result in shock or a lack of oxygen and nutrients to your vital organs. If you currently take any medications for hypertension — or other health conditions — you’ll want to keep those in mind before you start using cannabis.
Can Cannabis Help With Your High Blood Pressure?
While evidence favors cannabis as a high blood pressure treatment, we still need more research to understand the exact effects of the plant on blood pressure. If you’re interested in trying it out, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider. They’ll be able to help you understand the pros and cons of medical cannabis, as well as any potential interactions between cannabis and your current medications. They’ll also help you determine the best marijuana strains for hypertension.
When you’re ready to find the highest quality medical cannabis in Florida, look no further than VidaCann. With a broad selection of strains and product options from an array of top brands, you’re sure to find the right products for your needs. For more information or to check out our product offerings, visit us online or in person at your nearest VidaCann dispensary today.