With hypertension on the increase at a time when liberalized cannabis laws are spreading through states, folks want to know how it affects blood pressure. Does it rise or fall with marijuana use? The answer relies heavily on which studies you read and which people you ask, but one fact is clear: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one-third of adults have hypertension, 75 million folks.
Hypertension, or simply high blood pressure, can cause cardiovascular disease if left untreated. This, in turn, increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. Numerous factors contribute to hypertension development, from tobacco and alcohol use to stress, poor diet, even lack of exercise. It is dangerous and crucial that you find ways to lower blood pressure again. Can weed delivery help?
Some of effects of marijuana, most notably the acute effects, on blood pressure are no secret. They have lengthy documentation and are well understood. However, research into its other effects, particularly its positive or long-term effects; still face limitations, with many studies flawed and many animal study results not transferring well to human subjects.
Additionally, many studies have highly generalized results. They mostly focus on tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, without considering effects of the many other cannabinoids. Obviously, a strain high in THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis plants, would not have the same effects as one high in cannabidiol, or CBD. Effects would be very different. Further, no studies exist on the role of consumption method.
Short-Term vs. Long-Term
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, studies show mild to moderate increases in heart rate and blood pressure among occasional users shortly after consumption. This followed by a lowering of blood pressure shortly thereafter. Elevated blood pressure and heart rate peaks around 15 minutes after use, after which it quickly returns to normal.
Furthermore, the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains how users quickly develop tolerance to these early effects, often within a few days or weeks. Regular use has associations with lowered blood pressure and heart rate immediately afterward, with no elevation recorded at all. Anecdotes show cannabis maintains healthy blood pressure, an effect supported by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
What is more, several studies show that posture when using may have its own influence on hypertension. If lying down or sitting, blood pressure increases temporarily. However, it drops when you stand. In fact, you could even feel lightheaded from the drop in blood pressure if you stand suddenly, as if you want to faint.
However, there is little to no increase in blood pressure if you consume weed while standing. Actually, studies show blood pressure decreasing, with no initial rise whatsoever. Having said that, this effect has very little published data to verify this claim. More studies are underway. They will likely support these early findings with more comprehensive analysis.
Effects of Cannabis on Heart Attack and Stroke
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a University of California San Francisco study analyzed both Caucasian and African American adults over 15 years. It found no causal link long-term between using marijuana and the risk of stroke or heart attack. However, a few case reports and animal studies suggest a possible link between acute intoxication and these, but the findings are in question.
A 2006 report published by the Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology Journal in the U.S. National Library of Medicine queried this causal link, stating that, “Despite the drug’s extreme popularity, reports of cannabis-related stroke and myocardial infarction are so very rare as to still be reportable.” In short, it is impossible to have strokes or heart attacks on weed alone, with not a single case of it anywhere.
Additionally, these rare case reports do not consider the fact that victims also consume other substances in combination with cannabis, mostly tobacco, alcohol, and other stimulants shortly before these incidents occur. Despite this, to be safe, experts claim a five-time higher risk of suffering stroke or heart attack among at-risk populations, such as the elderly. However, risk dissipates within two hours.
Cannabis in Treating Hypertension
Some believe it possible to treat hypertension with marijuana. The body’s endocannabinoid system, with similarly behaving chemicals to cannabinoids, plays a crucial role in regulating many, if not most, of the body’s primary physiological functions, including its cardiovascular system. The U.S. National Library of Medicine discusses mounting research proving positive effects on anandamide.
Anandamide, the body’s own version of THC, has a relaxing effect on blood vessels. In essence, it allows blood to flow more freely, thereby lowering blood pressure. Cannabis increases productivity and levels of anandamide in the body, ultimately reducing hypertension and treating this condition effectively. What is more, it relaxes body and mind too, relieving stress and anxiety, known triggers of hypertension.
Importantly, the U.S. National Library of Medicine published a report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. It concluded its study with “endocannabinoids tonically suppress cardiac contractility in hypertension.” Furthermore, it also stated, “targeting the endocannabinoid system offers novel therapeutic strategies in the treatment of hypertension.
By using cannabis to manipulate the endocannabinoid system, it might well be possible to treat hypertension and regulate blood pressure effectively, the degree of which is now a foremost question in research circles. However, we have some way to go yet. Despite the extensive study of cannabinoids as antihypertensive agents, from as early as the 1970s, no approved cannabinoid-based drugs exist.
As science continues to understand cannabinoids and their effect on the body better, and more specifically, their effect on regulating cardiovascular receptors, confidence is growing in its ability to relieve hypertension. However, before you run off to a Santa Monica dispensary, consider weed delivery. With California traffic, it may prove essential in maintaining healthy blood pressure.