“It’s clear that CBD has potential,” says Professor Sumnall, “but we’re at a very early stage of that research.”
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical that’s extracted from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. Cannabis itself is an illegal class B drug, as is the compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which it contains. But pure CBD isn’t illegal, as it doesn’t cause the intoxicating effects of cannabis.
Many of these can be easily picked up from reputable high street stores, such as Holland & Barrett or Boots.
Can CBD help the heart?
Professor Sumnall argues that while it could be effective for some people, in some of these cases the results could be caused by the placebo effect (where the patient’s belief in a treatment makes them feel better). The placebo effect can be powerful, but Professor Sumnall warns that if people try CBD oil instead of speaking to their doctor, it could cause a problem.
A 2018 report by the World Health Organization suggested that CBD may help treat symptoms relating to conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), anxiety, depression, insomnia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“In terms of the products found in shops, there’s virtually no evidence to support the claims made for a lot of them.” Harry Sumnall, Professor in Substance Use at Liverpool John Moores University
There is ongoing research into the use of purer forms of CBD for a variety of conditions, including heart and circulatory diseases and, in particular, diseases of the heart muscle, including myocarditis and some types of cardiomyopathy.
CBD may protect against cardiac arrhythmias or irregular heartbeat.
In a follow-up study, where the researchers gave 26 men 600 mg of CBD or a placebo for seven days, the results were mixed. Measurements of resting blood pressure revealed that the participants had developed a tolerance to the CBD over time, but CBD ’s ability to lower blood pressure during stress persisted. (Of course, if you are already dealing with low blood pressure, the blood pressure–reducing effects of CBD are something to be aware of, and you may need to avoid high doses.)
An excerpt from The Essential Guide to CBD by the editors of Reader’s Digest & Project CBD .
Inside Your Arteries
Similarly, a stroke, which is sometimes called “ brain attack,” occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or reduced. So the same precautions that protect against heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease (like diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle that can include CBD supplementation) can help prevent stroke. CBD can also play a key role in protecting the brain after a stroke.
Heart disease is a catchall phrase for the disease that develops when the arteries of the heart cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart, leading to events like heart attack. It’s the leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 655,000 Americans each year, which is about one in every four deaths. Key risk factors for heart disease include unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, diabetes, overweight and obesity, and excessive alcohol use.
CBD may also protect against cardiac arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, where the heart beats too fast, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. Arrhythmias can be brought on by long-term stress, as high cortisol levels can raise blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides, and other risk factors for heart disease in general. CBD ’s anti-anxiety properties can help combat stress, lower cortisol, and protect against arrhythmias related to those causes.
Since cannabinoids also mop up free radicals — and improve the effects of other antioxidants in the body — CBD may also protect against heart disease by reducing the cellular damage that happens when we’re exposed to free-radical producers like processed foods and environmental pollution.