Hypertension, which affects nearly half of the US population, raises the risk of stroke and heart disease. Fortunately, it is a condition that can be controlled for most people through lifestyle changes, medicines, or a combination of both.
However, traditional medicines have been proven to be somewhat problematic. Most of the common drugs used to control high blood pressure have significant side effects, which include dehydration, dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, heartburn, nausea, heart palpitations, and joint pain, to name a few. Additionally, some hypertension medications have recently been recalled for containing cancer-causing elements. Because of these factors, new medicines are needed to help control hypertension safely.
Because hemp has only recently been legalized, medical research on the health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) is limited yet growing. That being said, one study has shown CBD to be effective at controlling hypertension under certain circumstances.
In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study at the Royal Derby Hospital in the UK, oral CBD (600 mg) or placebo (inactive substance) was administered to 26 healthy males over seven days (13 per group). The result was a significant reduction of mean arterial pressure in those treated acutely with CBD after a single dose. This effect tapered after continued dosing across the seven days. However, in response to stress, CBD was also shown to reduce systolic blood pressure with both acute and continued dosing.
Additionally, CBD had beneficial vascular effects, increasing carotid artery diameter and reducing overall arterial stiffness. The cannabinoid also helped improve endothelial function over the same time period.
Although the number of participants in this study was small, the results suggest that CBD has a positive effect on blood pressure and arterial health. Because of the numerous side effects of current high blood pressure medications, this is promising news for those who suffer from hypertension and arterial illnesses. Although CBD carries side effects of its own, including diarrhea, dry mouth, and fatigue, they are lesser in severity than those of traditional blood pressure medications.
While additional research is certainly needed based on larger studies, these results are encouraging and add to the growing list of conditions that CBD might help treat.
- Sultan SR, et al. The effects of acute and sustained cannabidiol dosing for seven days on the haemodynamics in healthy men: A randomized controlled trial. Br J Clin Pharmocol. 2020; in press.