Posted on

is cannabis good for high blood pressure

However, there are a limited number of animal studies and human case reports that suggest a link between acute intoxication and stroke or heart attack. But, these findings have been called into question by a 2006 report published in the Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology Journal: “Despite the drug’s extreme popularity, reports of cannabis-related stroke and myocardial infarction are so rare as to still be reportable.”

On the other hand, if you’re standing up when you imbibe, blood pressure may decrease without ever initially increasing. However, there isn’t a lot of published data verifying this effect. (If you’ve done your own comparative measurements, feel free to share in the comments section below!)

Here’s an interesting piece of “non-trivial trivia” you can use to impress friends at your next cannabis-inspired intellectual discussion: posture during consumption may influence blood pressure. Suppose you’re sitting or lying on your couch – your blood pressure will temporarily increase immediately following consumption. Once you stand up, blood pressure will drop. In fact, if you stand up suddenly, blood pressure could drop significantly enough to induce enough lightheadedness to make you feel like you’re about to faint (don’t worry, it’s unlikely you’d actually pass out).

Cannabis and Stroke or Heart Attack

However, we’re not there yet. Remarkably, despite the fact that cannabinoids have been studied for their potential as antihypertensive agents since the 1970s, no cannabinoid-based medications have been officially approved to treat hypertension. Moreover, despite an ever-growing body of anecdotal evidence and numerous studies suggesting the regular use of cannabis does appear to produce long-term lower blood pressure levels, we lack the sort of rigorous human studies that would allow physicians to confidently say, “Use cannabis to treat your hypertension!”

It’s long been established that the body’s endocannabinoid system (whose naturally occurring chemicals behave similarly to cannabinoids found in cannabis) play an important role in regulating many of the body’s key physiological functions, including cardiovascular function.

Perhaps most frustrating, published studies investigating differences between consumption methods – such as the effects of smoking cannabis versus ingested edibles – are essentially nonexistent.

Notably, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism published a report concluding “endocannabinoids tonically suppress cardiac contractility in hypertension,” and that “targeting the endocannabinoid system offers novel therapeutic strategies in the treatment of hypertension.”

These sudden drops in blood pressure, also known as white outs or green outs, may indeed be linked to cannabis use. Dr. Melanie Bone, a board-certified OB-GYN and cannabis specialist who practices in West Palm Beach, Florida, told Weedmaps that “cannabis may cause a drop in blood pressure on standing — known as postural hypotension.” This type of drop in blood pressure is not desirable, as it can cause vertigo and even fainting. So, when we talk about “lowering blood pressure,” we do not necessarily consider that effect beneficial to health.

People who use cannabis and are on blood pressure medications need to be mindful of the possibility of an interaction with other prescription medications. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Image lightbox

And how does CBD affect blood pressure? The consensus is that CBD tends to relax the blood vessels and decrease anxiety, which ultimately leads to a lowering of blood pressure. This type of blood pressure reduction is more favorable, as it is associated with decreased levels of anxiety. Both THC and CBD may lower blood pressure in different ways. However, based on available research, neither CBD nor THC should be considered a medical treatment for high blood pressure.

Bone, however, argued, “On careful study, many of the patients also smoked cigarettes and were obese, making it hard to draw absolute conclusions. Also, the observations were made on cannabis of unknown origin, not cannabis from a dispensary.” The fact that the cannabis did not come from a registered dispensary is significant, as there is no available lab testing to determine what other compounds may have been present.

To this point, there is some research that suggests smoking THC could directly or indirectly lead to a heart attack. One 2019 study titled “The Cardiovascular Effects of Marijuana: Are the Potential Adverse Effects Worth the High?” and published in the Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association showed that some people experienced a heart attack within an hour of smoking cannabis.