You probably know that CBD can help boost your mood and ease stress. But did you know it may lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease, too?
A 2020 study found that CBD had a vasodilation effect in humans and rats, which is to say it widened blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol. A 2017 study showed that a single large dose of CBD helped decrease blood pressure, while another study done in 2021 showed it helped reduce blood pressure for older adults if taken for three months. Other research suggests it may even help with weight management, which also lowers the risk of heart disease.
While we need more research needs to be done to determine exactly what’s going on here—not to mention more practice trying to say “vasodilation”—one thing seems to be clear: All the emerging science points to incredible potential benefits of CBD with virtually zero side effects.
Let’s get back to the science. First, the bad news: Heart disease causes 696,000 deaths in America every year. The main contributing factors are high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, obesity, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity.
So how does CBD help? Let us count the ways.
The reason high blood pressure is so dangerous is because it makes it harder for the heart to pump blood through our bodies. It may damage arteries, too, which then inhibits oxygen from getting to the heart and other organs. Studies have found that CBD may help relax and dilate arterial walls, thus making it easier for the heart to pump oxygen-rich blood.
How does CBD relax arteries? Experts think it works to calm inflammation, even in blood vessels. Inflamed blood vessels are a hallmark of heart disease and are partly to blame for high blood pressure and constricted arteries.
High LDL cholesterol builds up in in the lining of blood vessels and arteries, causing blockages that can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke. CBD may help the body naturally get rid of the blockages for the same reason that it may help the body naturally lower blood pressure: vasorelaxation.
When the blood vessels and arteries are relaxed, blood pressure lowers and the body has more time to flush the LDL cholesterol out. When blood vessels are constricted, the LDL stacks up faster than the body can eliminate it, causing a blockage.
Obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease, as it leads to high LDL levels, high blood pressure, and artery-clogging fat. Studies suggest that CBD may help encourage healthy weight management in two ways: increasing metabolism and transforming white fat cells to brown.
One 2017 study on animals showed that CBD may help rev up your metabolism and reduce food intake. Though it’s not entirely clear how it works exactly, it’s likely that it has something to do with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the human endocannabinoid system. (While more research needs to be done, scientists do know that the human endocannabinoid system is what regulates food intake and energy expenditure—which is why you get the “munchies” with THC—so it makes sense that the compound could have an effect.)
Another 2018 study showed that CBD may help “brown” human fat cells, which can boost calorie-burning and therefore promote weight loss and the fatty material that builds up in your arteries and causes heart disease.