How Does Cannabis Affect the Heart?

Marijuana Bud in Heart Shape
Photo by: SageElyse/Shutterstock

When thinking about cannabis’ medicinal properties, which ones come to mind? Perhaps the plant's ability to relieve pain, inflammation, or anxiety? Or maybe you think of cannabis' antioxidant, anti-bacterial, or natural antibiotic properties. It's likely that you thought of whatever medical benefit you most directly receive from the cannabis plant. 

But have you ever considered how cannabis affects the heart? 

Recently, cannabis and other cannabinoids have shown promise in treating different cardiovascular conditions. Different studies have shown that CBD can affect the heart positively. However, THC can sometimes have the opposite effect, especially if too many cannabis edibles are eaten at once. Read on to find out how cannabis affects the heart, the role different cannabinoids play in heart health, and what can happen after consuming too many edibles. 

The Role Cannabis and Other Cannabinoids Play in Heart Health 

So far, studies have shown that cannabis can play a significant role in maintaining a healthy heart. This is the case for several reasons, including the fact that the body's cardiovascular system contains multiple cannabinoid receptors. Not only can cannabinoids regulate the body's immune system, but they can also act as anti-inflammatory agents, which could be very helpful for those with heart conditions like atherosclerosis. According to a 2005 study, it was found that consuming low doses of THC orally showed effectiveness in inhibiting the progression of atherosclerosis in mice. Therefore, it suggested that cannabis and CBD usage could slow down the progression of atherosclerosis.  

In addition, another study found that activating the body's CB2 receptors is beneficial in reducing the number of endothelial-related issues, including health problems caused by high-fat accumulation and high-glucose diets.  

Although cannabis can positively affect heart health, other studies suggest that people with cardiovascular conditions could benefit more from highCBD strains instead of highTHC strains. When trying to prevent and/or treat atherosclerosis or another related heart issue, the best option is to consume high-CBD strains.  

Why Cannabis and CBD Could Help Those with Heart Conditions & Other Medical Issues 

Human Heart Abstract
Photo by: adike/Shutterstock
On the same note, cannabis and other cannabinoids like CBD can help those with heart conditions and similar medical issues. For example, it has been found that CBD can relax the arterial walls of the heartlessening the tension within the body's blood vessels. When the body's arterial walls are relaxed, the arteries are protected against inflammation, which can be useful for individuals with various health issues. In general, heart disease and atherosclerosis cause inflammation, but CBD can effectively relieve that inflammation 

To sum it all up, CBD has been proven to relax the body's arterial walls, calm/reduce inflammation, act as an immune modulator and anti-oxidant, and decrease plaque buildup on the arterial walls. Therefore, CBD has real potential as a treatment method for heart diseases and other heart-related issues. It’s also been found through various preclinical studies that CBD causes both acute and time-dependent vaso-relaxation in isolated arteries within rats and humans. Specifically, in humans, it was found that the acute administration of CBD reduced resting blood pressure with a lower stroke volume and higher heart rate.

In addition to CBD's positive effects on the cardiovascular system mentioned above, evidence suggests that cannabis can offer cardio-protection and neuroprotection following heart attacks and strokes. In recent human and animal studies, cannabinoids and CBD have been found to cause blood vessels to vasodilate while improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. However, cannabinoids have also been shown to elicit vasodilation, which results in normalizing the body's blood pressure. For people with heart issues, using cannabis as a natural treatment method could provide significant and dependable relief.

What Can Happen After Consuming Too Many Edibles and/or Too Much THC?

Although certain cannabinoids like CBD can provide benefits to those with heart conditions, THC doesn't deliver the exact same effects. THC has been known to increase the body's heart rate, especially if consumed at high doses. Also, if too much THC is consumed, it's common for people to experience anxiety, paranoia, vomiting, jitteriness, and/or drowsiness. Past that point, if too many high THC edibles are consumed, hallucinations become a possibility.

Unfortunately, when people experience a racing heart rate, they often feel anxious, which could pose a danger to elderly people with existing heart conditionsOverall, high THC cannabis strains aren't the best option for individuals with heart conditions, especially amongst the elderly. If you ever start to feel any of the above symptoms, you should drink lots of water and lay down.Also, remaining calm and not panicking is key; otherwise it's likely that you will feel worse.

Lastly, it's important to remember that the high won't last forever. If you're feeling uneasy, call a friend, significant other, or someone close to you to make sure that you're drinking enough water and staying calm. If you've tried doing this and you don't feel much relief, consider consuming CBD, which can effectively counteract the increase in heart-rates associated with THC consumption.  

How Does Cannabis Affect the Heart? Conclusion & Suggestions

Overall, if you have atherosclerosis or some other heart condition, consuming cannabis could be beneficial, especially if you focus on high-CBD strains. Although pharmaceutical medications are often prescribed to treat various heart issues, cannabis has been shown to be a safe and natural alternative that can lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, provide protection to the body's arterial walls, and much more.
However, choosing the right cannabis strain is essential, especially if you already have some type of heart-related issue. It's suggested to play it safe by understanding your health needs before consumption, finding the right dosage, and picking a highCBD strain.

To learn about proper CBD dosing, check out the informative article here.

Find out the medical benefits of indica, sativa, and hybrid cannabis strains here.