Can CBD lower blood pressure? A lot of people are asking that question. Why? Well a 2021 study found that daily use of cannabis resulted in lower blood pressure in seniors. But when studies like these come out, everyone in the CBD community gets very excited. And while it does show promise, it isn’t enough yet to say anything definitively.
That wasn’t the first study to show that CBD could lower blood pressure. In 2017, a small placebo-controlled study of nine healthy males found that 600 mg of CBD reduced resting blood pressure. As well as stress-induced blood pressure. Which sounds exciting, right? CBD works with your endocannabinoid system to keep it all in balance (sometimes called homeostasis.)
While all this is promising, don’t go tossing your hypertension meds just yet. It appears CBD can lower certain causes of blood pressure. But more research is needed to find out if it’s a viable alternative to blood pressure drugs.
Let’s look at how CBD affects blood pressure and what the science says.
First, what is high blood pressure?
According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure. But sadly, not all of them know it.
High blood pressure happens when the force (pressure) of the blood flowing through your blood vessels is too high. While certain things can make anyone’s blood pressure spike temporarily, it happens consistently in a person with hypertension.
High blood pressure is called a silent killer because it develops gradually and doesn’t cause any obvious symptoms. In other words, you could feel totally fine while your blood pressure is damaging your blood vessels and heart.
Your risk of high blood pressure increases with age. Stress, inactivity, drinking alcohol, and being overweight are some other things that increase your risk.
How does CBD lower blood pressure?
CBD actually affects blood pressure in a few ways. Let’s break them down.
It can lower anxiety
The majority of CBD’s effects on blood pressure appear to come from CBD’s anti-anxiety effects.
Anxiety isn’t a cause of high blood pressure per se. But stress and anxiety do trigger a surge in stress hormones, like cortisol. These hormones cause your blood vessels to constrict and your heart to pump harder and faster. This temporarily increases your blood pressure.
Multiple studies have shown that CBD lowers stress. The findings of a 2020 review of research on CBD’s anxiolytic-like effects found that the pre-clinical and clinical evidence reviewed supports CBDs potential as a treatment for anxiety disorders. The research included in this review covered a wide range of anxiety disorders. Some of which included social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and panic disorder.
It has the potential to relieve chronic pain
CBD is commonly used by people as a way to relieve chronic pain. And there’s evidence supporting its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
For example, a 2018 review of the findings of studies around CBD and pain was exciting. It was conducted over the course of 40+ years. And it concluded that CBD was an effective way to manage various types of pain.
Wondering what pain has to do with blood pressure? In short pain tends to increase blood pressure. It also goes hand-in-hand with stress and anxiety, which as we just covered, also raises blood pressure. But can we say that CBD can lower blood pressure? No, but we do like what we’re seeing for certain factors.
CBD’s has the potential to positively effect inflammation and pain in addition to anxiety and stress. And all these factors can contribute to a reduction in associated high blood pressure.
But that’s not all!
Certain pain medications can raise blood pressure. People who use CBD to relieve pain are often able to cut back on how much pain medication they need. This helps them manage their symptoms without some of the side effects that their pain meds can cause. And not a lot of people like taking pain meds.
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It may improve sleep
Poor sleep worsens pain, stress, and anxiety. On the flipside, pain, stress, and anxiety can all mess with your sleep. And this creates a vicious circle that can raise your blood pressure.
CBD has been shown to have a calming effect. And anecdotal and clinical evidence points to it being helpful for improving sleep quality.
There’s research linking CBD to lower cortisol levels at night, which may improve insomnia.
One study that compared CBD with placebo and nitrazepam showed that CBD significantly increased sleep duration.
In 2019, researchers studied CBD’s effect on sleep and anxiety had some interesting results. It analyzed 72 subjects – which is not a ton, but also not insignificant. And the study found that a daily dose of 25 mg of CBD improved reported anxiety levels and sleep quality in the majority of the participants. Is that enough to say anything definitively about CBD and anxiety and sleep? No. But it does continue to build a little more evidence that it could be beneficial.
If poor sleep is contributing to your high blood pressure, CBD might help.
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It’s a vasodilator
It’s a what now?
Vasodilation is the widening of blood vessels and CBD appears to have that effect according to some research.
When the blood vessels widen there’s a decrease in systemic vascular resistance. That allows blood flow to flow more easily, resulting in lower blood pressure.
A 2020 review of the effects of CBD on the cardiovascular system showed more promise. It suggested that CBD’s vasodilatory properties might lower stress-induced increases in blood pressure.
So, can I use CBD to lower blood pressure?
If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, you’ll want to talk to your healthcare provider before using CBD for blood pressure.
CBD is generally safe and well-tolerated, but it can interact with certain medications, including those used for blood pressure.
Research from 2017 found that when taken with hypertensive medications, CBD could alter the blood concentration of either substance.
There currently isn’t any conclusive evidence that CBD can replace conventional blood pressure treatment. While research is ongoing, you’ll want to continue using the treatment your doctor prescribed.
If you’re looking for natural ways to lower blood pressure, try these proven lifestyle changes:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce your stress
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce your sodium intake
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
- Quit smoking
In Conclusion – Can CBD Lower Blood Pressure
The research seems to show that CBD has the potential to help manage high blood pressure. Which is great. But there’s an important nuance here. It doesn’t actually change a person’s physiology in a way that a statin lowers your blood pressure. It can help the things that cause an increase in blood pressure. CBD can help improve things like pain, anxiety and poor sleep. All of which can raise your blood pressure. But very importantly: CBD can interact with blood pressure medications. Please consult your doctor before starting any CBD regimen.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance health and lifestyle writer that has written for Healthline, Medical News Today and Verily Magazine just to name a few.