A new study has found that consuming cannabis can help reduce blood pressure.
Given that blood pressure levels are linked to predicting heart disease, what does this mean for cannabis, blood pressure, and heart health?
Medical view on cannabis, blood pressure, and heart health
The general consensus has historically stated that cannabis use negatively impacts heart health. Many of us will know that heart pounding feeling when consuming too many edibles for example.
When prescribing medical cannabis, doctors will also be very reluctant to provide the herb if the patient has a history of heart disease or high blood pressure.
Why blood pressure matters
High blood pressure is a sign of impending heart disease, like heart attacks or stroke.
Given that heart disease is a massive killer in the Western world, high blood pressure is a concern.
Could cannabis be good for your health and blood pressure?
Previous research has focused too much on small samples. Gender differences have also not been studied.
The purpose of this new study was to examine how gender, along with different lifetime cannabis use and blood pressure, changed among the general UK population.
90,000 participants were assessed.
Their blood pressure was taken, and the amount of cannabis that they have or currently use was confirmed by a questionnaire. This study explored:
- the association between cumulative lifetime cannabis use and blood pressure levels,
- secondly, the current or past use of cannabis consumption with blood pressure and then,
- the frequency of cannabis use during taking with blood pressure
In comparison to people that never used cannabis, heavy users were younger, more likely current smokers and presented higher alcohol consumption.
They had higher levels of income and education, but lower BMI (a measure of how overweight someone is) levels in both genders.
The results showed that heavy cannabis users presented lower levels of blood pressure compared to never users. The results carried to both genders, but with a higher manner in women.
However, no data on the frequency of cannabis use around the 30 days prior to study was established. So it’s not clear if cannabis use lowers blood pressure in the short term, or if longer term chronic use causes it.
Another study has found that among older adults with hypertension, cannabis treatment for 3 months was associated with a reduction in 24-hours blood pressure after cannabis administration.
A study in 2011 also showed that stopping cannabis use after smoking daily, resulted in an increase in blood pressure.
Could this latest study on cannabis and blood pressure be presenting perverse results? Does cannabis help blood pressure?
A famous study of tobacco smokers in China in 2020 also showed a reduction in blood pressure in cigarette smokers. This is obviously counter to our general understanding of the risks of smoking, and demonstrates that studies can show weird results if they want to.
The small association in blood pressure differences between different types of cannabis use is probably still too small to mean that high blood pressure will be treated with medical cannabis any time soon.
So what’s the lowdown on cannabis, blood pressure, and heart health?
Blood pressure is just one risk factor in overall heart health. If you have high blood pressure, then a doctor would be concerned that you have higher risk of stroke or heart attack.
But it’s not the only factor at play.
Whilst it could be that cannabis helps blood pressure in the short term, other studies are still showing that cannabis users demonstrated heart characteristics that are predicted to be showing higher risk of the development of heart disease.
As always, it’s a complex picture. On the one hand, this emerging evidence shows us that cannabis can do awesome things.Some of these things go directly against the historical demon-isation of the herb in the media, as anti-cannabis lobbies seek to discredit the medical value of cannabis.
But we shouldn’t get carried away. There are some pretty robust studies that are still linking long term cannabis use to heart disease, and so it might not be that cannabis helps blood pressure.
As always, use this with caution, but it’s really interesting and promising to learn more about the potential life enhancing effects of this wondrous plant.
What a time to be alive.