With hypertension being one of the leading health issues in the Western world, it is important that people are aware of the various risk factors that can lead to the development of this condition.
There are certain measures that can be taken to try and decrease the probability of developing hypertension. A lot of people are wondering what type of effect cannabis consumption may have when it comes to blood pressure; there are those who wonder whether or not it can help lower blood pressure, or whether it should be avoided completely.
Of course, the answer to these types of queries depends on what type of person or organisation you are going to be listening to.
According to the latest statistics, one in every three American adults suffers from high blood pressure, which is also called hypertension. When it is not looked after, it can down the line result in cardiovascular disease.
This disease leads to a number of different debilitating results if it is allowed to deteriorate, such as increasing the probability of the individual experiencing heart failure, heart attacks and strokes. Some of the common behaviours which increase the likelihood of someone developing hypertension include the likes of stress, tobacco and alcohol consumption, inactivity and poor diet.
As time goes on, there are more and more studies being conducted about the positive effects that cannabis consumption can have with patients who suffer from a variety of debilitating illnesses.
Across the world, cannabis is being legalised for medicinal use as a result of these positive effects it can have. Amongst all this, there have been some studies conducted on how cannabis can affect blood pressure levels.
As it has only been used in a more widespread context and observed in this environment in the last few years, there are not really any long-term studies that can showcase what the potential longstanding effects are, whether positive or negative, that cannabis consumption can have on blood pressure levels.
Those studies that have been conducted are very often poorly operated or are reliant on animal studies, which of course won’t necessarily translate over to humans in the same fashion.
Other studies can be very generalised in their nature, focusing on one specific compound rather than looking at the role other cannabinoids may have. Finally, there are really no studies out there today which compare the various consumption methods of cannabis, such as smoking versus edibles, and what different effects these methods may have.
Having said all of this, there are certain things that are known when it comes to cannabis consumption and blood pressure.
Short and long-term effects of consuming cannabis
The key question to be answered in this article is whether or not cannabis can raise blood pressure, lower it, or whether it has any effect at all. There are some studies which show that, in the period following consumption, some people will see some sort of spike in blood pressure, as well as in their heart rate, which will then be followed with a fall in their blood pressure. Usually, this would happen in the ten to fifteen minutes following consumption.
Repeated use of cannabis can build up a tolerance for these types of effects, and over time there are associations between regular cannabis consumption and lower blood pressure levels, along with a decreased heart rate, straight after consuming it. On an empirical level, a lot of people say that cannabis consumption helps to balance a healthy level of blood pressure, something which can be backed up by certain studies.
Links with cannabis consumption to heart attacks and strokes
The likes of strokes and heart attacks are of course a lot more serious than simply having high blood pressure. There has been a study conducted in San Francisco which looked 3,617 adults over a period of 15 years to see if there were any links with cannabis consumption and the development of coronary artery risk. This showed that there wasn’t any causal link in the long run between using cannabis and the probability of having a stroke or heart attack.
Can cannabis help to treat hypertension?
Medical professionals have known for a long time that there is an important part that the endocannabinoid system in the human body plays regarding some vital physiological functions, one of which is the function of the cardiovascular system.
There is more research being released which showcases that the natural version of THC that is found in the body, called anandamide, can help with the relaxation of blood vessels. This means that the blood is able to freely flow and therefore helps to decrease blood pressure levels. There was even a report released by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism which showed that “targeting the endocannabinoid system offers novel therapeutic strategies in the treatment of hypertension.”
Of course, questions still abound as to what extent the endocannabinoid system can impact the regulation of blood pressure. There are many researchers currently working hard to see whether manipulation of this system could be used in the treatment of hypertension.
To date, there are no medications based on cannabinoids which are approved for the treatment of hypertension. This is even despite a lot of anecdotal evidence, as well as certain studies pointing towards the fact that regular consumption of marijuana can lead to decreased levels of blood pressure in the long run.
There are still not enough strict studies which have been conducted on humans that would allow a doctor to say with confidence that you should be using cannabis regularly in the treatment protocol for dealing with hypertension.
Just like with many of the supposed benefits that the regular consumption of cannabis can have on a variety of medical conditions, there is still a lot more work that needs to be done.
Every day, there are more studies starting trying to find the links that cannabis has with the treatment of these different conditions. It is certainly an exciting field that is receiving a lot of traction and in the near future it could prove marijuana to be the ideal treatment option for many conditions, including hypertension.