Cannabis is used for many medicinal purposes, and there has been quite a bit of research to determine if marijuana can be used to help control high blood pressure.
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood that pushes against the walls of your arteries when your heart is pumping. Your arteries carry blood to other parts of your body from your heart, and blood pressure typically will rise and fall throughout the day. There are two numbers to measure blood pressure, systolic and diastolic, represented as systolic/diastolic.
- Systolic blood pressure – this number represents the pressure caused by the heart when it contracts to push out the blood thatâ€™s in it, i.e., when the heart pumps.
- Diastolic blood pressure – this number represents the pressure against the arteries when the heart relaxes and fills with blood, i.e., in between pumps (heartbeats).
A healthy blood pressure for an average adult would be a systolic pressure of 120 or less and a diastolic pressure of 80 or less. A systolic number between 120 and 129 would be considered elevated, and high blood pressure would be a systolic reading of 130 or higher or a diastolic pressure of 80 or more. High blood pressure is also known as hypertension and can cause serious health problems such as heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, and even death if left untreated.
Hypertension is also called the silent killer because there are oftentimes no symptoms. This makes it vitally important to check your blood pressure and keep it under control. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications such as ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, alpha-blockers, and diuretics to remove excess fluid and help lower and control blood pressure.
Some studies show that marijuana can help to reduce blood pressure, although cannabis should never be considered a replacement for prescription medication.
Does Cannabis Help Treat High Blood Pressure?
This is a difficult question to answer in general because there are different types and strains of cannabis. The different cannabinoids, terpenes, and bioactive compounds found in marijuana synergize to produce complex biological effects. Several studies report that Americans aged 55 and older are the fastest-growing demographic to use marijuana, almost doubling in recent years. This might be a good thing for some as evidence shows that the chance of developing hypertension increases as you age.
One study posted in the European Journal of Internal Medicine studied patients 60 and older with hypertension after a prescription of cannabis. They were monitored with a 24-hour blood pressure device, given ECGs, body measurements, and blood tests, prior to and after cannabis use as well as a three-month follow-up. Results showed a significant reduction after 24 hours in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings, with the lowest point occurring three hours after either smoking or ingesting cannabis edibles or extracts.
Research studies on the use of cannabis in older adults and how it affects the cardiovascular system are scarce; however, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a statement urging caution regarding the use of cannabis in older adults as it may cause serious detrimental cardiovascular effects.
There are different cannabinoids, with the two most popular being THC and CBD, CBD is often used to treat pain and anxiety, and that alone can help to reduce blood pressure. The different strains of marijuana can also play a role in the effects of cannabis use and blood pressure. Indica is more sedating than Sativa and therefore is thought to provide greater relaxation, thus contributing to reduced blood pressure. If you are considering the use of medical cannabis to treat high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about any health concerns, particularly cardiovascular issues, and consider a healthier method of consumption other than smoking.
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