Keep a Healthy Heart: Cardiovascular Disease and Cannabidiol
Cannabidiol loves your heart. This cannabis-derived substance has evolved in such a way that it can both influence and facilitate many of the cardiovascular processes which are so vital to life. While potentially more than a hundred different cannabinoids can be found in cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) has a special affinity with the heart, and in particular, the CB2 receptors that are concentrated within and around this major organ. This relationship has led it to become one of the newest avenues of study for therapeutic CBD applications, and the current body of research is exploding with possibilities.
Cardiovascular disease is the underlying cause of 1 out of 3 deaths in the United States and more than 30 percent of deaths globally, according to the American Heart Association, This equals about one death every four seconds in America. These statistics are depressing but become even more so because nearly all the risk factors leading to cardiovascular disease and death are entirely preventable.
Seven key lifestyle choices all increase the risk of heart disease and stroke: smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes (which is typically also attributed to diet). As you might notice, these risk factors all can be managed, and through appropriate changes, anyone can reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, however, heart disease is on the rise, which leaves medical professionals scrambling for an appropriate response and new treatment options.
While it might be easy to preach lifestyle changes to the 92.1 million Americans currently suffering from some form of cardiovascular disease, prevention and treatment obviously are much more complicated than that. Also, while lifestyle changes help reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, they haven't been found useful for treating heart problems that already have occurred. These problems can include plaque buildup and restricted arteries, plus other issues that affect the cardiovascular and circulatory systems.
Medical researchers now are exploring the possibility of CBD treatment for cardiovascular diseases. Unlike most of the standard treatment options (pharmaceuticals, stents, bypass surgery), CBD offers an all-natural, safe, and side-effect-free solution. It also seems to have far-reaching effects on heart health by affecting a broad range of issues instead of just focusing on one problem. The combined benefits that have been explored so far all indicate significant potential for CBD as a cardiovascular disease therapy.
First and foremost, CBD is a well-known anti-inflammatory. It has a long history as a treatment option to reduce inflammation for a variety of health issues, including arthritis and immune disorders, but it also is showing potential for treatment of inflammation associated with heart disease. Currently, there is only a minimal understanding of the underlying causes of cardiovascular inflammation, but this doesn't change the fact that heart disease and inflammation go hand in hand. One may cause the other, but the direction of this relationship is poorly understood. Evidence suggests CBD therapy can provide an overall reduction in this problematic inflammatory response.
Currently, there is only a minimal understanding of the underlying causes of cardiovascular inflammation, but this doesn't change the fact that heart disease and inflammation go hand in hand. One may cause the other, but the direction of this relationship is poorly understood. Evidence suggests CBD therapy can provide an overall reduction in this problematic inflammatory response.
Heart attacks and strokes are caused by a progressive restriction of blood vessels and arteries. As blood flow is restricted, major organs begin suffering from a lack of oxygen and essential nutrients. Just as CBD has been found to have calming effects on the psyche, it also has been shown to have similar results for the circulatory system. It seems to relax the arteries and blood vessels, allowing for increased blood flow and reducing the potential for blood clots to create a complete blockage.
Protection against Cardiovascular Damage from Stroke
Interestingly, CBD is proving to be a superior treatment option for people who have suffered an ischemic stroke. If administered within three hours of the stroke, CBD has been found to prevent further tissue damage by increasing blood flow to affected areas and helping dissolve plaque blockages. While so far it hasn't been shown to prevent stroke, it has been shown to mitigate the damage afterward. Current research suggests it can facilitate a speedier recovery and help stroke survivors live more independently.
White Blood Cell Regulation
Some research suggests that through white blood cell regulation, CBD plays a role in preventing or delaying the onset of cardiovascular disease. One study found it both affected the white blood cell lifespan and influenced white blood cell death. Cannabidiol also directs white blood cell migration throughout the circulatory system, while increasing platelet aggregation (the healthy clotting of blood around an injury).
The above points represent only an overview of the ongoing research into CBD therapy for cardiovascular disease. This quick study guide does present a compelling picture of CBD’s potential for treating many of the underlying issues that lead to heart attack, stroke, and death. While many current treatment options only target one particular issue, CBD seems to offer many positive benefits for the entire cardiovascular system. The preclinical data suggests CBD could be an extremely potent therapy for all cardiovascular issues.