Medical Marijuana and Hypertension
Hypertension, much more commonly known as high blood pressure is usually a long term condition. It’s essentially defined as a condition in which blood pressure in the arteries is constantly elevated. Hypertension affects approximately 15% of the global population. In most cases, high blood pressure won’t cause negative symptoms. But, long term hypertension can cause a myriad of fatal ailments, including stroke, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, the list just goes on.
There are two classifications of high blood pressure, primary and secondary. The large majority of cases are primary and are caused by lifestyle factors such as being overweight, smoking, eating too much salt, etc. Secondary blood pressure, on the other hand, is caused by something that can be pinpointed, such as chronic kidney disease, endocrine disorder, using birth control pills, etc. In many cases, lifestyle changes such as losing weight, decreasing salt intake, eating a healthy diet, and exercising can often cure primary blood pressure. In cases that these methods prove to be ineffective, blood pressure medications can be used and are typically effective in the majority of people.
So how does cannabis fit into all of this? It is well documented that after ingesting cannabis, casual users often experience a small spike in blood pressure/heart rate depending on the amount they take. The spike in blood pressure is then typically followed by a decrease in blood pressure. These effects typically occur within fifteen minutes after consuming the substance. However, one study showed that after developing a tolerance for cannabis the initial effects of raised blood pressure don’t occur. Instead, consumption lowered blood pressure almost immediately. In addition to this, there is a large amount of anecdotal evidence in which people report marijuana helps them to balance high blood pressure levels.
It’s no surprise that the endocannabinoid system may help to regulate blood pressure as it helps to regulate a myriad of other bodily functions. Research published in 2012 showed that anandamide, a naturally occurring endocannabinoid reduces blood pressure and relaxes blood vessels. This would, in turn, help blood to flow more freely throughout your body. Suffice it to say that ingesting THC (the cannabinoid most closely resembling anandamie) may help to reduce blood pressure.
The reason why THC and anandamide may reduce blood pressure is still largely unknown beyond the fact that it’s interacting with your endocannabinoid system. Some animal studies have shown that anandamide, as well as other endocannabinoids, can reduce cardiac contractility in hypertension as well as normalize blood pressure. Many researchers have speculated that manipulating the endocannabinoid system may be one of the keys to regulating blood pressure.
It’s hard to wholeheartedly say that medical cannabis will definitely reduce blood pressure. For the time being, more human studies need to be done before any conclusions can be made. You can still use traditional medications if necessary, but they often come with negative side effects such as nausea, headaches, diarrhea, fatigue, and many others. When treating your ailments with cannabis, on the other hand, the worst side effect you might get is the munchies. So why not try this natural herb to treat your hypertension instead?