This article originally appeared on Jointly and has been reposted with permission.
Millions of people suffer from high blood pressure, so it’s no wonder that many want to know if their cannabis habit has the potential to make it better or worse. Cannabis does have some effects on blood pressure, we’ll get to that in a bit, but first:
Blood pressure refers to the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries while the heart pumps. Blood pressure is measured using two numbers: systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic blood pressure is “the pressure caused by your heart contracting and pushing out blood” and diastolic blood pressure is “the pressure when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.” In other words, systolic blood pressure is the force exerted against your arteries when your heart contracts, and diastolic blood pressure is the pressure against your arteries between heartbeats.
Healthy blood pressure for a typical adult is a systolic pressure of less than 120 and a diastolic pressure of less than 80. High blood pressure is a systolic pressure of more than 120 and a diastolic pressure of 80 or more.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can lead to serious health problems when not treated. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and death. That’s why it’s critically important to keep your blood pressure under control. Doctors prescribe medications such as ACE inhibitors, ALPHA blockers, beta-blockers, diuretics, and more to help lower blood pressure. Cannabis should not be viewed as a replacement for prescription medications.
RELATED: Is Marijuana A Depressant?
To answer the question, “does marijuana lower blood pressure?” we need to be more specific. What we should ask is, “what type of marijuana lowers blood pressure?” This question will help us get a better answer because cannabis can vary significantly in:
These bioactive compounds synergize and produce complex biological effects.
There are three categories of marijuana: Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid. Indica strains are thought to be more relaxing while Sativa strains are thought to be more uplifting. Hybrid strains have a mix of Indica and Sativa effects. These classifications are subjective rather than taxonomical. (Want to learn the truth about cannabis strains? Check out: Why Jointly is Better than a Strain Finder)
Indica vs Sativa for high blood pressure
Let’s take a look at Indica vs Sativa for blood pressure. Indica strains are known for their sedative effects, while Sativa strains are known for their energizing effects. While Indica strains are better at overall relaxation, Sativa strains can help to relieve stress – and stress is one of the leading causes of high blood pressure.
It is commonly believed that the type of marijuana that is most likely to lower blood pressure is Indica. This is because Indica strains are known for their relaxing and sedative effects.
Does smoking weed lower blood pressure?
There is some research to suggest that smoking weed can lower blood pressure. A study looking at the Cardiovascular Pharmacology of Cannabinoids found that “chronic use of cannabis in man, as well as both acute and prolonged administration of THC to experimental animals, elicit a long-lasting decrease in blood pressure and heart rate.”
Another study designed to look at the Effects of Tetrahydrocannabinol on Arterial and Intraocular Hypertension found that the inhalation of 2.8% THC resulted in an initial increase in heart rate followed by a decrease in systolic pressure, diastolic pressure, and intraocular pressure.
THC and blood pressure
Researchers have found that natural “cannabinoids and their synthetic and endogenous analogs” induce “profound hypotension.” Hypotension is the opposite of hypertension, so cannabinoids like THC induce low blood pressure. But how does THC affect blood pressure?
Cannabinoids exert complex effects in the central nervous system and periphery, but scientists have teased out some of the mechanisms involved. As we discussed in Your Unique Endocannabinoid System:
The primary function of the ECS in organisms is to maintain homeostasis, or to maintain stability in an organism’s internal environment in response to changes in the external environment.
So, it makes sense that the ECS would play a role in maintaining homeostasis of the cardiovascular system.
The cardiovascular effects of cannabis have been documented since the 1960s. We now know that administration of cannabinoids leads to “a profound decrease in arterial blood pressure, cardiac contractility, and heart rate.”
According to a 2008 study, “several lines of evidence indicate that the cardiovascular depressive effects of cannabinoids are mediated” by CB1 receptors in the periphery. The central nervous system is the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system is all of the nerves that branch out from the central nervous system. Cannabinoids are also thought to induce vasodilation, based on animal studies.
Endocannabinoid system and blood pressure
Cannabis affects blood pressure through the ECS, which plays an interesting role in maintaining healthy cardiovascular function.
For example, recent findings indicate that the ECS is involved in the “pathomechanism of hypotension associated with various forms of shock.” Additional research highlights the protective role of endocannabinoids in myocardial ischemia. That’s why researchers have entertained the possibility that cannabinoids could be used as “novel hypertensive agents” for at least 50 years.
RELATED: How Your Endocannabinoid System Affects Your Cannabis Experience
Anandamide (the bliss molecule) is an endocannabinoid found in mammals that is responsible for the “runner’s high.” Anandamide induces similar cardiovascular effects to THC — a triphasic blood pressure response and slow heartbeat — but the effects last only for a few seconds. These effects are mediated by the vagal nerve, as they are eliminated in animals with a transected vagal nerve.
Anandamide has also been found to induce vasodilation, or the widening of blood vessels. Vasodilation helps to lower blood pressure by making it easier for blood to flow through arteries and veins.
Does smoking weed raise blood pressure?
While cannabinoids may have hypotensive effects, smoking cannabis that contains THC may also raise your blood pressure. THC can cause an increase in heart rate, which leads to an increase in blood pressure.
Does CBD lower blood pressure?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is known to have many health benefits, including the ability to reduce stress and anxiety levels. This is beneficial for people with high blood pressure because stress and anxiety can contribute to higher blood pressure levels.
One research study administered 600mg of CBD to nine healthy men and found that this dose of CBD decreased blood pressure. Another study conducted on rats found that CBD caused vasodilation. While more research is needed, there is some early evidence that CBD lowers blood pressure.
Please note that none of the information in this article is meant to suggest that cannabis or CBD can replace prescription blood pressure medications.
Get started on your cannabis wellness journey
Have you started your cannabis wellness journey? Jointly is a new cannabis wellness app that helps you discover purposeful cannabis consumption so you can achieve your wellness goals with cannabis and CBD. On the Jointly app, you can find new cannabis products, rate products based on how well they helped you achieve your goals, and track and optimize 15 factors that can impact your cannabis experience. These 15 factors include your dose, the environment in which you consume cannabis, who you are with when you ingest, how hydrated you are, the quality of your diet, how much sleep you got last night, and more. Download the Jointly app on the App Store or the Google Play Store to get started on your cannabis wellness journey.
Sam Anderson is the content Director at Jointly, a cannabis wellness company powered by a proprietary data platform to help people reach their full potential. The company was created on the premise that purposeful cannabis consumption is the key to unlocking a better you.