- Causing the tissues of the circulatory system to become inflamed, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
- Thanks to its anti-inflammatory effect, cannabidiol can be of great help when it comes to prevention.
- Also, studies on animals have shown that CBD can contribute to faster, more effective heart tissue repair following a heart attack, as well as to faster healing of the circulatory system following a stroke.
Cardiovascular disease kills more people than any other condition worldwide, and while adopting a healthy lifestyle that avoids junk food, smoking and lack of exercise can be enough to prevent the disease, too often it is not until the first symptoms appear that we a, at which point a mere change of lifestyle can prove ineffective. In such cases, patients often have to seek medical aid, which coupled to cannabis and its therapeutic compound par excellence, i.e. cannabidiol, can be the answer to protecting the cardiovascular system.
Consisting of the heart and blood vessels, which transport blood around the body, a malfunctioning of the cardiovascular system can lead both to a heart attack, causing part of the myocardium or heart muscle to die, or to a stroke - triggered by a clogged or damaged blood vessel that reduces the flow of nutrients to the brain cells.
In most cases, the underlying cause is some sort of inflammation, and this is where CBD comes in, as according to a number of studies, the anti-inflammatory effects of the substance can contribute to protecting the tissues of the cardiovascular system. One of these studies was carried out by an international research team including scientists from the USA, Israel, Hungary, Switzerland and Taiwan, and showed that CBD could be effective in the treatment of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. Tests in mice showed that chronic treatment with CBD reduced the swelling by reducing the amount of CD3 and CD4 lymphocytes, stopping the progression of the disease and promoting recovery.
Moreover, a previous study carried out by Chinese researchers proved that CBD can contribute to recovery also after a heart attack - the group of heart attack-induced rabbits that was treated with CBD as part of the study recovered much faster than the placebo group.
A key tool against stress and obesity
These, however, are not the only benefits of CBD when it comes to fighting cardiovascular disease. The substance has beneficial effects also on the risk factors for the condition, among which stress.
According to a study conducted by the University of Nottingham and the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, where nine male volunteers were administered with CBD or placebo at various times, CBD reduces resting blood pressure and contributes to maintaining a stable value in stress situations. Among the conclusions of the study, researchers observed that the relaxation of the artery walls reduces pressure in the vessels, keeping them protected from inflammation.
CBD reduces resting blood pressure and contributes to maintaining a stable value in stress situations.
Likewise, CBD has been proven to have a positive effect on the body's metabolism, as it contributes to fight obesity, another major trigger of cardiovascular disease. In 2016 a Korean research group studied the effects of the substance on body fat and found that CBD stimulated the genes and proteins responsible for fat oxidation while reducing those responsible for fat generation. Another finding was that CBD increases the activity and the number of mitochondria - responsible for supplying cellular energy - boosting their calorie-burning and their energy generation capacity and slowing down ageing.
The reason for this, says the study, is that CBD has the ability to turn white fat tissue brown, a much more beneficial colour when it comes to adipocytes. In fact, a number of studies in animals have shown that brown fat, also known as 'good fat', increases the body's resistance against diabetes and other conditions associated to blood lipids such as hypothyroidism and anaemia.
CBD has a positive effect on the body's metabolism and obesity, another major trigger of cardiovascular disease.
Meanwhile, other research efforts have been aimed at proving wrong the critical voices that think cannabis may pose a risk to health. In line with this approach, a US research group has recently analysed the results of 24 studies published between 1975 and 2017 with a view to identifying the role of cannabis in cardiovascular disease, concluding that there was insufficient evidence so as to consider cannabis use as a risk factor for myocardial infarctions and strokes.
The risk of taking high doses of THC
CBD, however, is not the only substance found in cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is found in large amounts too, and has its own implications. This is why some experts warn that it could harm the heart and the cardiovascular system as a whole. But as usual, it all depends on the amount.
Like CBD, THC activates the so-called CB2 receptors. These are mainly found in autoimmune cells, meaning that THC contributes to reducing inflammation and to limiting the number of free radicals - highly reactive molecules - which increase the risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke. Further, the activation of CB2 receptors reduces the damage of the vascular event.
That said, besides CB2, THC also activates CB1 receptors. These can be found throughout the whole cardiovascular system, from the heart muscle and the blood vessels to the nerves that control the heart rate, and reduce blood pressure when activated. The effect, however, is not always beneficial. For instance, at high doses, the action of THC on CB1 receptors can counteract the action on CB2 receptors, causing the opposite effect.
Similarly, the activation of CB1 receptors can cause plaque to build up in the arteries. This consists of fat, cholesterol and other harmful substances that can damage the walls of the vessels. When this happens, the so-called macrophage immune cells weave a supplementary wall, but the activation of CB1 receptors damages these cells too because it raises bad cholesterol.
Accordingly, if you're looking for a strain that can help you protect your cardiovascular system, you should opt for CBD-reach seeds with low levels of THC. A good option is Dinamed CBD, which has up to 14% CBD and just 0.5% THC. Otherwise, the benefits of CBD will be masked by the worst side of tetrahydrocannabinol. Also, many experts recommend CBD oils and pills as the best way to benefit from the protective properties of cannabis.