Small Study: Single Dose Of CBD Reduces Blood Pressure

Dragana Komnenov PhD March 23, 2018 0 comments

The findings of a small study suggest that CBD could be a therapeutic tool for reducing blood pressure. 

As blood moves throughout the human body, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The more resistance that the blood encounters as it moves, the higher the blood pressure. Without intervention, high blood pressure can put an individual on the road to a long list of potentially debilitating conditions. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a primary risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, brain aneurysms, and heart failure. Unfortunately, almost fifty percent of Americans suffer from high blood pressure, and they might not even know it. Therefore, reducing people’s blood pressure is increasingly important.

The solution lies in management and treatment strategies to mitigate future life-threatening events. Physicians might recommend a more active lifestyle, or a healthier diet. However, they may also prescribe blood pressure medication. Will these medical prescriptions for reducing blood pressure some day include CBD? Numerous animal studies and recent human research suggest that CBD could someday be an effective therapeutic in reducing blood pressure.

How Can CBD Reduce Blood Pressure?  

The exact mechanisms by which the activation of immune cells leads to the development and maintenance of hypertension is not completely clear. However, hypertension and inflammation are inherently linked. Based on the well-documented anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties of CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid seems like an obvious solution. Furthermore, research demonstrates that CBD positively impacts other conditions that negatively affect high blood pressure, such as anxiety. CBD could play a multifaceted role in reducing blood pressure, evidenced by numerous studies detailing several physiological effects.

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CBD Suppresses Cardiac Arrhythmias in Rats 

In a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (2010), the researchers administered CBD to rats before inducing ischemia (restricting blood supply) and causing cardiac arrhythmias and infarction. They found that CBD reduced the total number of ischemia-induced arrhythmias and infarct size when the treatment preceded ischemia. Interestingly, the researchers found that this effect was dose-dependent and that CBD mitigated collagen-induced platelet aggregation compared with the control.1)Walsh, S. K., Hepburn, C. Y., Kane, K. A., & Wainwright, C. L. (2010). Acute administration of cannabidiol in vivo suppresses ischaemia‐induced cardiac arrhythmias and reduces infarct size when given at reperfusion. British Journal of Pharmacology160(5), 1234-1242.

Platelet aggregation leads to the formation of a blood clot and can be a serious problem for blood flow. Therefore, the authors concluded that CBD was cardio-protective, through an inhibitory effect on platelet activation. Other researchers have demonstrated that CBD causes vasorelaxation, increasing the diameter of blood vessels and therefore reducing blood pressure.

Reducing Blood Pressure Via CBD-Induced Vasorelaxation 

According to a study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology (2009), CBD induced vasorelaxation in rat aorta.2)O’Sullivan, S. E., Sun, Y., Bennett, A. J., Randall, M. D., & Kendall, D. A. (2009). Time-dependent vascular actions of cannabidiol in the rat aorta. European Journal of Pharmacology612(1-3), 61-68. Researchers also found similar effects in human arteries. Otherwise, in a study published in Cardiovascular Research (2015), the researchers dissected human mesenteric arteries and investigated the effects of CBD on the tissue in vivo.

For the first time, the researchers demonstrated that CBD causes vasorelaxation of human arteries through the activation of cannabinoid receptor 1 and TRP channels.3)Stanley, C. P., Hind, W. H., Tufarelli, C., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2015). Cannabidiol causes endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation of human mesenteric arteries via CB1 activation. Cardiovascular Research107(4), 568-578. However, vasorelaxation was blunted in males and patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol. Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol are conditions often linked to high blood pressure. These findings suggest that CBD may not be as effective in specific patient groups. Such findings require further investigation. Nonetheless, positive preclinical evidence has opened the door for human trials investigating the effect of CBD on high blood pressure. The results of this study are favorable but limited.

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CBD Reduces Blood Pressure in Healthy Participants 

In a study published in JCI Insight (2017), the researchers recruited nine healthy participants for a randomized cross over study to investigate the effect of CBD on blood pressure. Participants took either six hundred milligrams of CBD or a placebo and two hours later the participants performed stress tests. These tests were both exercise-dependent and independent. Additionally, participants refrained from exercise, as well as beverages containing caffeine and alcohol, for twenty-four hours before study visits.

The researchers found that CBD reduced resting systolic blood pressure and stroke volume, as well as reduced blood pressure response to stress in post-test periods.4)Jadoon, K. A., Tan, G. D., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2017). A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. JCI Insight2(12). Furthermore, the CBD treatment was well tolerated, with no reported adverse events on the day of the stress tests, or in the following week. The results of this study suggest that CBD can reduce blood pressure, but there are several limitations that need to be addressed with additional research.

We Need Hypertension-Specific Research

The participants in the 2017 study5)Jadoon, K. A., Tan, G. D., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2017). A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. JCI Insight2(12). were healthy volunteers with no previously documented history of high blood pressure. The effects of CBD on healthy individuals could be drastically different from an individual who has hypertension.

Overall, it is difficult to mimic the daily toll that hypertension has on the human body with stress tests that are mentally fatiguing and require limited physical activity. Further, future studies should aim to recruit a larger number of participants who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Moreover, the researchers should randomly group them into CBD and placebo treatment groups. Otherwise, there is no other way to determine the true efficacy of CBD for reducing blood pressure.

Cardiovascular disease, which includes hypertension, is the leading cause of death in the United States. Research that leads to the discovery of additional hypertension treatment options has the potential to save many lives.

References   [ + ]

1.Walsh, S. K., Hepburn, C. Y., Kane, K. A., & Wainwright, C. L. (2010). Acute administration of cannabidiol in vivo suppresses ischaemia‐induced cardiac arrhythmias and reduces infarct size when given at reperfusion. British Journal of Pharmacology160(5), 1234-1242.
2.O’Sullivan, S. E., Sun, Y., Bennett, A. J., Randall, M. D., & Kendall, D. A. (2009). Time-dependent vascular actions of cannabidiol in the rat aorta. European Journal of Pharmacology612(1-3), 61-68.
3.Stanley, C. P., Hind, W. H., Tufarelli, C., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2015). Cannabidiol causes endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation of human mesenteric arteries via CB1 activation. Cardiovascular Research107(4), 568-578.
4, 5.Jadoon, K. A., Tan, G. D., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2017). A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. JCI Insight2(12).

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