High blood pressure is a big risk to your health, but fortunately, it can be positively influenced by small lifestyle changes. Blood pressure is often treated with medication, although it would be most effective to focus on the causes that raise blood pressure!
In this article, we will get to know blood pressure and the health challenges caused by its fluctuation, the endocannabinoid system behind this important function, CBD oil as a blood pressure regulator, and also whether there are any risks in the interaction of blood pressure medications and CBD.
What is hypertension?
Hypertension is usually referred to when the blood pressure is too high. This is a more common challenge associated with blood pressure, but sometimes blood pressure can also be too low. (1)
Fluctuations in blood pressure are natural and occur, for example, after exertion, such as exercise and sauna, in connection with tension and also at night, as blood pressure may drop by up to 20% during sleep.
Especially in older people, it is common, but not safe or healthy, for blood pressure to rise above the reference values. High blood pressure is a significant factor behind many diseases. (1)
Approximately one million Finns take blood pressure medication, and in addition, it is estimated that approx. one-fifth of Finnish adults have blood pressure levels that are not within normal limits. The causes of high blood pressure are largely lifestyle. (1,2)
Normal blood pressure and values
When measuring blood pressure, it is divided into two parts. Systolic, i.e. upper pressure, is the higher number on the meter, which describes the blood pressure at the moment the heart contracts. Diastolic, i.e. lower pressure, is the lower number shown on the meter and it describes the pressure of the resting phase of the heart.
The blood pressure measurement unit is millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and the value is measured at rest, sitting and not talking, in as stress-free conditions as possible.
Normal values are when upper pressure is between 130-139 and lower pressure between 85-89, but both upper and lower pressure can be normal when one of them is high or low. Young and middle-aged people usually have low blood pressure, while the elderly are more sensitive to high blood pressure. This is related to the elasticity of the blood vessel walls. (1,2)
Low blood pressure
Women’s blood pressure is naturally often a little lower than men’s, and the fact that the blood pressure is slightly below the reference value is not yet a sign of illness.
In young people and young adults, low blood pressure is less likely to be a problem, but in older people it usually indicates vascular or heart diseases. Too low blood pressure causes at least dizziness, often also headaches, even in younger people. They are the most recognizable symptoms. (1,2)
High blood pressure
Only a small part of hypertension is caused by disease. Elevated blood pressure is almost always caused by lifestyles that strain the circulatory system and heart function. The most important change associated with hypertension is an increase in the resistance of the peripheral circulation. (1,2)
The symptoms of high blood pressure are conspicuous by their absence until there is another reason, usually caused by high blood pressure, to go to the doctor. If there are risk factors associated with your lifestyle and situation, it can be good to monitor your blood pressure, because even a little high blood pressure can trigger other diseases or at least be a favorable basis for their development. Hypertension can e.g. damages arteries and predisposes to coronary artery disease, promotes heart failure and even causes stroke or heart attack. (1,2)
Dangerously high blood pressure that requires immediate treatment is when the upper pressure is 180 mmHg or the lower pressure is 110 mmHg. High blood pressure is between 160-180 mmHg and 100-110 mmHg, and more calmly monitored blood pressure between 140-160 mmHg and 90-100 mmHg. These readings are indicative only
Essential hypertension is the term for persistently high blood pressure. It is a multi-caused national disease that arises when important physiological functions fail. Essential hypertension is the transition of a regulatory system consisting of several functions to a new level of function, and its mechanism of action is not yet properly understood. (3)
Symptoms of hypertension
High, even dangerously high blood pressure usually does not cause noticeable or outwardly visible symptoms, at least at first. It is practically impossible to detect without measurement and for this reason it usually has time to cause problems before it is detected. The symptoms related to low blood pressure are clearer, because they are e.g. dizziness, headache and blurring of the eyes during sudden movements. (1,2)
Prevention, drugs and treatment
High blood pressure is usually caused by either illness or lifestyle, but prolonged stress has also been linked to cardiovascular diseases. It is possible to prevent high blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle. A balanced use of salt and fat, a diet rich in vegetables, berries and fruits and regular exercise are the basic pillars that make it possible to avoid numerous diseases, including high blood pressure. Avoiding excessive alcohol and quitting smoking are also important factors in lowering blood pressure. Factors affecting mental health such as stress, social relationships and quality of life have also been estimated to be behind high blood pressure.
In the treatment recommendations, the most important factor is the correction of lifestyles before starting the medication. Lifestyles should be in order before medication is even considered, but the high sales figures for blood pressure medications belie the fact that lifestyle change has not always been either successful or was an actual condition for receiving the medication. Usually, drug treatment consists of two or three different combinations of drugs, because usually one drug does not yet achieve the desired result.
Instead of a curative effect, blood pressure medications only keep the symptoms under control and the actual causes behind high blood pressure still exist, causing other challenges such as insulin resistance and fatty liver. (1,2)
The most important element behind successful treatment is a change in lifestyle, if high blood pressure is not due to other causes such as kidney or heart disease. The symptoms may stay away with medication, but a permanent change in blood pressure can only be achieved through diet, exercise and a balanced mind!
The endocannabinoid system and blood pressure
The body’s watchdog, the endocannabinoid system, does its best to keep blood pressure in check, along with balancing other vital functions. It is an important system that is responsible for the functioning of all body processes and it consists of three basic pillars; about endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors and the molecules that break them down.
Endocannabinoids have numerous functions, together and separately with other lesser-known endocannabinoids, they have been thought to be involved in blood pressure at least in the functioning of the heart muscle and vascular system. The best known endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG. Anandamide is behind the mechanisms that relax blood vessels, and other endocannabinoids also seem to have roles in producing the effect.
Endocannabinoids are also behind acute situations such as heart attacks.
Of the cannabinoid receptors, at least CB1 affects the function of the related heart muscle and blood vessels.
CBD and blood pressure
CBD is a cannabinoid compound found in hemp, which, according to research, has numerous properties that have a positive effect on health. It has been found to be beneficial to the circulatory system and animal studies show that CBD has similar to anandamide , it has a vasorelaxing effect (4).
CBD has been found to lower blood pressure and stabilize heart function (5).
It e.g. suppresses inflammatory changes in the coronary arteries caused by glucose, alleviates heart muscle dysfunction familiar to diabetics and keeps the endothelium of the retinal microvessels intact. (4)
Interaction of antihypertensive drugs with CBD
Although CBD has been found to be a safe and well-tolerated cannabinoid and the full-spectrum CBD oil, which includes all the active ingredients of hemp ( Entourage effect ), is suitable even for children and animals, there may be some interactions with medicines that should be taken into account.
An enzyme called cytochrome P450, which works especially in the liver, but also in other tissues, is responsible for the breakdown of some medicines. These cytochromes participate in the drug’s own metabolism by incorporating a water atom into the drug’s molecular structure, thus making it water-soluble and easier to filter by the kidney.
CBD has been found to inhibit cytochrome P450 activity by deactivating it. As a result of the reduction and slowing down of enzyme activity, some medicines may break down more slowly than usual and work a little differently compared to normal. This effect has not been observed at low CBD with doses and thus it is hardly likely, but the possibility exists.
There are several medications related to blood pressure, blood thinning and calcium blocking that are affected by high doses of CBD, and it is good to think carefully about compatibility before starting to use CBD oil. These drugs include e.g. medicines containing warfarin and valsartan. More incompatible medicinal substances and medicines, as well as information on the interaction of medicines and CBD can read more here .
Hemp seed oil may affect blood pressure
Hemp seed oil, which is obtained from hemp seeds and is also sold on grocery store shelves, contains plenty of fatty acids that are essential for the body. The fatty acids it contains, such as ALA, GLA and SDA, interact with each other and have a positive effect on general health. It is often said that vegetable oils are harmful, but when used in appropriate amounts, hemp seed oil in particular may have a favorable effect, e.g. cholesterol quality, blood pressure and skin health. (6)
High blood pressure is the underlying cause of numerous diseases and it is a real burden on the body. Blood pressure is mainly raised by unhealthy lifestyles, which are in principle easy to correct with small changes in diet and choices related to intoxicants. CBD may support the lowering of blood pressure and especially it may be useful for challenges caused by high blood pressure such as sleep difficulties and for making a change in life itself. At high doses, CBD oil may affect the action of blood pressure medications!
- Mustajoki P.. 2022. Duodecim health library. Low blood pressure. https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/dlk00300. Referred on 12/12/2022.
- The working group set up by Duodecim of the Finnish Medical Society and the Finnish Venerpaineyhdistys ry. 2020. Valid treatment recommendation. Risen bloodpressure. https://www.kaypahoito.fi/hoi04010. Referred on 12/12/2022.
- Ruskoaho H.. 1999. Period book Duodecim. Essential hypertension – do we still know its cause? https://www.duodecimlehti.fi/duo90232. Referred on 12/12/2022.
- Stanley CP, Hind HW and O’Sullivan SE. 2012. Is the cardiovascular system a therapeutic target for cannabidiol? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=O%27Sullivan%20SE%5BAuthor%5D. Referred on 12/12/2022
- Jadoon KA, Tan GT and O’Sullivan SE 2017. A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Jadoon%20KA%5BAuthor%5D. Referred on 12/12/2022.
- Rodriguez-Levya D and Pierce GN. 2010. The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Pierce%20GN%5BAuthor%5D. Referred on 12/12/2022.