How does cannabis affect blood pressure?
Copy article link to clipboard.
Link copied to clipboard.
- Does marijuana lower or raise blood pressure?
- What are the cardiovascular effects of cannabis?
- Weed and blood pressure medication
- Other effects of weed on blood pressure
Since smoking a joint can lead to a relaxing high, you might wonder about cannabis use and its effect on blood pressure. We know that weed can make your eyes red , but does it also raise or lower blood pressure, or does it not have any effect at all? If you have high blood pressure, is marijuana safe to consume?
Here we’ll address how smoking weed, including medical marijuana, could factor into your blood pressure levels.
Does marijuana lower or raise blood pressure?
To answer this question, we should focus on two of the primary cannabinoids present in cannabis : cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both may exert an influence on blood pressure levels.
Dr. Bonni Goldstein, a medical adviser to Weedmaps and the director of Canna-Centers in Lawndale, California, outlined the potential effects of THC on blood pressure:
“THC can affect blood pressure depending on the dose, the route of administration, a person’s experience with THC, and a person’s underlying health. Healthy volunteers that took THC had an increase in heart rate and decrease in blood pressure. In studies where people used THC while lying down, they had elevated blood pressure. When they stood up, their blood pressure dropped and they experienced low blood pressure.”
These sudden drops in blood pressure, also known as white outs or green outs, may indeed be linked to cannabis use. Dr. Melanie Bone, a board-certified OB-GYN and cannabis specialist who practices in West Palm Beach, Florida, told Weedmaps that “cannabis may cause a drop in blood pressure on standing — known as postural hypotension.” This type of drop in blood pressure is not desirable, as it can cause vertigo and even fainting. So, when we talk about “lowering blood pressure,” we do not necessarily consider that effect beneficial to health.
Both THC and CBD may lower blood pressure in different ways. However, neither CBD nor THC should be considered a medical treatment for high blood pressure. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
And how does CBD affect blood pressure? The consensus is that CBD tends to relax the blood vessels and decrease anxiety, which ultimately leads to a lowering of blood pressure. This type of blood pressure reduction is more favorable, as it is associated with decreased levels of anxiety. Both THC and CBD may lower blood pressure in different ways. However, based on available research, neither CBD nor THC should be considered a medical treatment for high blood pressure.
What are the cardiovascular effects of cannabis?
Another frequently asked question about cannabis and cardiovascular health is: can weed cause a heart attack?
First, let’s again distinguish between the cannabinoids THC and CBD. For example, CBD oils containing trace levels of THC may have very different effects than smoking a high-THC strain of marijuana. Various studies have indicated that THC may have detrimental effects on cardiovascular health, whereas CBD could be helpful to the heart.
Goldstein added, “CBD does not appear to have the same risks for the heart as THC and in fact, appears to be somewhat cardioprotective.” To support this assertion, Goldstein cited a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in which researchers concluded that CBD has therapeutic potential in treating complications of diabetes, as well as some cardiovascular disorders. Most notably, CBD could reduce inflammation, a condition that can ultimately damage the blood vessels, arteries, and vital organs. So, if you apply CBD oil to your skin or swallow a few tablespoons, the impact could differ greatly than if you smoked a blunt.
To this point, there is some research that suggests smoking THC could directly or indirectly lead to a heart attack. One 2019 study titled “The Cardiovascular Effects of Marijuana: Are the Potential Adverse Effects Worth the High?” and published in the Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association showed that some people experienced a heart attack within an hour of smoking cannabis.
Bone, however, argued, “On careful study, many of the patients also smoked cigarettes and were obese, making it hard to draw absolute conclusions. Also, the observations were made on cannabis of unknown origin, not cannabis from a dispensary.” The fact that the cannabis did not come from a registered dispensary is significant, as there is no available lab testing to determine what other compounds may have been present.
The bottom line is that there have been studies demonstrating a questionable association between smoking weed and having a heart attack, and more research is necessary.
Weed and blood pressure medication
You might also be wondering, what if you’re smoking weed while taking blood pressure medication? Will there be an adverse reaction? If you are smoking THC-rich cannabis and taking medication for high blood pressure, the answer is that there could be.
Goldstein explained, “Smoking cannabis can be harmful for those with heart disease or hypertension since the smoke contains carbon monoxide. This gas binds to the hemoglobin in red blood cells, displacing oxygen off of the red blood cells which results in less oxygen going to the body’s tissues, including the heart. People with heart disease or high blood pressure should avoid smoking.”
Instead, Goldstein recommends other methods of cannabis use, such as sublingual tinctures or edibles, which she says are safe to use if someone is on blood pressure medication. Further, Bone stressed that people who use cannabis and are on blood pressure medications need to be mindful of the possibility of an interaction with other prescription medications. This means monitoring blood pressure and reporting any dizziness to your doctor, who can adjust your dosages accordingly.
People who use cannabis and are on blood pressure medications need to be mindful of the possibility of an interaction with other prescription medications. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
In particular, the blood thinner warfarin was shown in a 2017 study published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior Case Reports to interact with cannabidiol (CBD) in certain epileptic individuals . In line with Bone’s advice, researchers concluded that patient lab work should be monitored closely.
While it is possible for warfarin and other medications to interact with cannabis, there are no guarantees, and the 2017 study focused on patients with epilepsy rather than on the general population. As Dr. Bone reported, “In my private practice, I have not encountered a significant negative interaction between blood pressure medication and cannabis.”
Other effects of weed on blood pressure
There may be other effects of marijuana on blood pressure that health practitioners have yet to discover. All potential effects depend on the individual’s existing health problems, especially co-morbid conditions such as diabetes and obesity.
Can people without these conditions safely indulge in marijuana? A healthy individual’s body may appear as a well-oiled machine, but Bone disputes that analogy, pointing out that, “Unlike a car, where we replace the brakes or tires, the heart never gets a vacation and the blood vessels need to keep working forever. And the nervous system, which directs the show like a conductor, is on duty 24/7.”
Moderation, then, may be key in integrating a cannabis regimen into your healthcare plan. Consult with your physician before you begin using cannabis or CBD products and discuss any medications you are currently taking.
Learn how cannabis affects blood pressure and what questions you should ask your doctor before starting a regimen.
High Blood Pressure & Medical Marijuana
High Blood Pressure or Hypertension, is a chronic medical condition. where artery pressure is chronically elevated above the normal range of 100–140 mmHg – when the heart pushes blood and 60–90 mmHg – between pulses.
The lining of blood vessels, the endothelium play a critical role in a variety of human disorders, including peripheral vascular disease, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, chronic kidney failure, tumor growth, metastasis, venous thrombosis, and severe viral infectious diseases
The administration of Medical Marijuana and synthetic derivatives have also been shown to lower blood pressure without cardiotoxicity. Components of Medical Cannabis produce an anti-inflammatory response; by reducing inflammation of the lining that impedes or restricts blood flow, the diameter of blood vessels is widened and blood pressure is reduced.
“A newspaper is a circulating library with high blood pressure.”
— Arthur Baer, Journalist, Funnyman
How Medical Cannabis Lowers Blood Pressure
The body’s endocannabinoid system plays an important role in cardiovascular regulation and high blood pressure. Endocannabinoids produced naturally by the body interact with the body and brain’s control system that governs many bodily functions.
Cannabinoids, components of Medical Marijuana, mimic the body’s endocannabinoids that are intricately involved in cardiovascular control system control. Many studies report that Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD work by normalizing the heart’s pumping action through the relaxation of overly tense muscles and tissues, allowing blood to flow more freely and normally. These basic discoveries offer a solid scientific basis for Medical Cannabis treatment for high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disorders.
“The endothelium (blood vessel lining) produces a variety of substances that play important roles in regulation of the circulation and vascular wall homeostasis (stability). The control of blood vessel wall homeostasis is achieved via production of vasorelaxants (relaxants) and vasoconstrictors (constriction). Relaxants include and endocannabinoids).”
— Dr. Schiffrin, Canada Research Chair and Director of the Hypertension and Vascular Research
MMJDOCTORONLINE Notes: It is important that a licensed Medical Marijuana be consulted before taking any MMJ medication. While Medical Cannabis works for many, Strains high in THC should not be indicated for everyone with Hypertension. For more information, contact one of our Medical Marijuana Doctors for a Cannabis Consultation.
“One way to get high blood pressure is to go mountain climbing over molehills.”
— Earl Wilson, Old school news man
Further Reading – Research Breakthroughs
Cannabinoids Lower Hypertension
— Laboratory of Physiologic Studies, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health
“The endocannabinoid system plays a role under physiological and many pathophysiological conditions”
“We conclude that endoCannabinoids tonically suppress cardiac contractility in hypertension. Targeting the endocannabinoid system offers novel therapeutic strategies in the treatment of hypertension.”
EndoCannabinoids – Regulation of Blood Pressure
“Cannabinoids and their endogenous and synthetic analogs exert powerful hypotensive and cardiodepressant effects by complex mechanisms involving direct and indirect effects on myocardium and vasculature.“
Cannabis Therapy in Vascular Disease and Hypertension
“Cannabinoids have significant and complex effects on the vascular system that are not explained by a single mechanism or a single site of action.”
Side Effects of Medical Marijuana
“The potential for increased use of Marijuana in the changing legal landscape suggests the need for the community to intensify research regarding the safety of Marijuana use.”
See how medical cannabis can help you with High Blood Pressure. Efficacy of Medical Marijuana in High Blood Pressure.