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Small Study Finds Single Dose Of CBD Reducing Blood Pressure

Dragana Komnenov PhD

CBD acts on blood vessels and regulatory brain centers, reducing blood pressure.

Over the past decade doctors have researched therapeutic use cannabinoids more and more. Particularly ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Now this research can 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.

Study on CBD and Reducing Blood Pressure

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.

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CBD has anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, antiemetic, antioxidant and antipsychotic properties. However, due to the scarcity of available preclinical and clinical studies, we don’t know enough 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 exist in the brain and the walls of the blood vessels. A particular center in the brain is the paraventricular nucleus (PVN). The PVN increases blood pressure. Various stimuli cause this. When the brain doesn’t control it properly, it creates pathological increases in blood pressure. Doctors also call this hypertension.

Preclinical studies in rats show that a particular cell type called microglia activates the PVN in hypertension. And they produce various molecules that contribute to local inflammation. CBD prevents the activation of microglia and  reduces local inflammation via binding to Abn-CBD-sensitive receptors. It also reduces oxidative stress. Such curtailing of migroglia activation by CBD results in neuroprotection. Also it helps reduce blood pressure via normalized control in the PVN.

The Blood Vessel Lining Also Affected by CBD

Another site of regulation of blood pressure for which we could use CBD therapeutically is the lining of the blood vessels, called the endothelium. This inner most layer of cells has the capacity to constrict or dilate blood vessels. This increases or decreases blood pressure, respectively.

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Hypertension impairs the ability of the endothelium to function properly. 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 hypertension, greatly benefiting hypertensive patients.

Therapeutic Potential for CBD in Reducing Blood Pressure

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 regulating hypertension in animals is very promising. So too is its effect on the vasculature. It underlines the therapeutic potential of CBD as a phytocannabinoid of choice for treating hypertension.

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Dragana Komnenov
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