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Marijuana & Blood Pressure

Posted by Tobias Corelli on May 09, 2023

While there is research that shows that both drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes can cause increased blood pressure and hypertension, it's not precisely known if consuming cannabis affects the body in a similar way. After all, tobacco and cannabis are 2 different substances, and mixing alcohol and weed can have other effects.

The issue is that tobacco and nicotine have had years of extensive research and studies while marijuana continues to be classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the United States, severely limiting our ability to study weed's effects scientifically. Let’s explore what we do know so far about weed and its effects on blood pressure and heart rate.

Does Marijuana Lower Blood Pressure?

The short answer is: possibly. A 2005 study found that cannabis contains various compounds that would allow cannabis to help lower blood pressure. Those compounds would affect the cannabinoid receptors found near the heart to effectively slow down one’s heart rate. The study also suggested that cannabidiol (CBD) could affect the part of the autonomic nervous system that would be responsible for moderating your heart rate to adapt to changes in the environment. 

A more recent 2021 study found that participants, who were 60 years and older and had hypertension, showed lowered levels of systolic and diastolic blood pressure for 24 hours after being administered cannabis. 

This is to be understood with a grain of salt as this study is the first of its kind and very recent. It wouldn't be safe to make a decision based on one study. While smoking weed doesn't affect testosterone, for example, other bodily changes are likely. We would need much more scientific support to make use of these findings.

Does Marijuana Raise Blood Pressure?

While scientific studies are very limited in relation to cannabis, we can draw information from other subjects to help inform our perspective. In this situation, we are already well aware of smoking's effects on the heart and blood pressure, and it's not good. Smoking can cause inflammation that effectively thins your veins and arteries. Not only does this increase blood pressure, it also makes your heart work harder to pump blood through the narrowed veins and arteries. This can also increase the risk of something becoming clogged and causing a heart attack or stroke. 

While it is unknown whether weed and blood pressure have the same relationship, it seems safe to err on the side of caution and expect similar results, at least when smoking cannabis.

For example, getting a tattoo while high may sound enticing, but the tattoo process is known to raise blood pressure, so consider the possible result when doing both at the same time.

Do Edibles Cause High Blood Pressure?

When we said research on marijuana and blood pressure is very limited, we weren’t kidding. While there isn't any research to shed light on the relationship between THC and blood pressure when it's consumed as an edible, as opposed to being smoked, we can examine a 2017 study on the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on blood pressure. In this study, CBD was administered to participants in the form of an edible pill. The study found that CBD helped lower resting blood pressure. It also helped lower blood pressure caused by stress and associated with elevated heart rate. It seems there may be some association to be made between cannabis or its compounds and lowering blood pressure, but we need more research to develop a more solid understanding. 

Indica or Sativa for High Blood Pressure

While this is difficult to determine given the scarcity of research, some studies may offer clues as to whether indica or sativa would be better for high blood pressure. Another study in 2005 considered the occurrence of increased blood pressure after users quit using cannabis. In its study, researchers examined the blood pressure of participants who used cannabis daily and then stopped smoking cannabis cold turkey. They found that participants experienced a significant increase in blood pressure in the time after they stopped smoking cannabis. This may suggest that THC lowers blood pressure as the absence of it causes an increase in these participants. And sativa strains are known to have higher concentrations of THC. Still, the study qualifies its finding by indicating that “...the time course of this effect is currently unknown and requires further study.”

Does Weed Lower Blood Pressure Or Raise It?

The truth is we really don't know when it comes to marijuana and blood pressure. On the one hand, we have research and studies that are related to weed and blood pressure. On the other hand, those studies are not extensive or definitive enough to fully know the effects of cannabis blood pressure. We can only hope that the restrictions on cannabis are lifted to allow for more medical research.

Until then, be sure to only purchase cannabis products from reputable establishments, including our dispensary near Lombard, and keep yourself informed as much as possible so you can make the right decision for yourself and your health. And as always, stay safe!

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