A Single Dose of CBD Reduces Blood Pressure
CBD acts on blood vessels and regulatory brain centers to reduce hypertension
Over the past decade, therapeutic use cannabinoids, particularly ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) has been the focus of much research. Now, this research could benefit patients with high blood pressure.
According to the most recent estimates by the American Heart Association, 34% of adults and 11% of children are hypertensive (suffer from high blood pressure), which is the leading cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality worldwide.
In fact, a recent study conducted in 9 healthy males, a single dose of CBD resulted in reduction of systolic blood pressure both at rest and when the subjects were exposed to cold stress. These are promising results in the area of cardiovascular research given the healthcare burden of hypertension and associated co-morbidities.
CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, antiemetic, antioxidant and antipsychotic properties. However, due to the scarcity of available preclinical and clinical studies, little is known about its potential anti-hypertensive effects. If we consider the regulatory mechanisms of blood pressure we can realize that the already existing properties of CBD are likely to benefit hypertensive patients.
Broadly speaking, the regulatory mechanisms of blood pressure are located in the brain and in the walls of blood vessels. A particular center in the brain called paraventricular nucleus (PVN) is involved in increasing blood pressure due to various stimuli, and when not controlled properly, results in pathological increases in blood pressure, such as hypertension.
Preclinical studies in rats have shown that a particular cell type called microglia are activated in the PVN in hypertension, and they produce various molecules that contribute to local inflammation. CBD has been shown to prevent the activation of microglia and to reduce local inflammation via binding to Abn-CBD-sensitive receptor as well as to reduce oxidative stress. Such curtailing of migroglia activation by CBD would not only result in neuroprotection, but also in reduction of blood pressure via normalized control in the PVN.
Another site of regulation of blood pressure for which CBD could be used therapeutically is the lining of the blood vessels, called the endothelium. This inner most layer of cells that is in contact with the blood has the capacity to constrict or dilate blood vessels thus increasing or decreasing blood pressure, respectively.
In hypertension, the ability of the endothelium to function properly is impaired, the blood vessels become stiffer, which further perpetuates the hypertension. Loss of regulatory substances such as nitric oxide occurs, and increase in pro-inflammatory molecules and oxidative stress ensues. CBD, with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties is thus expected to improve endothelial function and restore proper control of blood pressure, greatly benefiting hypertensive patients.
The therapeutic utility of CBD is a relatively new area of investigation that will likely yield exciting discoveries in the area of inflammation and oxidative stress which underlie many human diseases, most notably hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The direct effect of CBD on the brain center that regulates blood pressure in animals is very promising, as is its effect on the vasculature, underlining the therapeutic potential of CBD as a phytocannabinoid of choice for treatment of hypertension.