The cardiovascular system is also known as the circulatory system, which includes the heart, blood vessels and essentially the entire body. This system ensures that blood and the oxygen this carries gets pumped throughout the body and is vitally important system, because without fresh blood supply to each and every of our extremities and organs, our body will die.
A failure in our cardiovascular system can have dire consequences on our general health and can cause a long line of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) such as stroke, heart failure, aneurysm, heart arrhythmia, and many more.
Such medical conditions can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices, such as avoiding tobacco, limiting the intake of alcohol and sugar, and sticking to a healthy diet and sufficient amounts of exercise. However, some people — no matter their effort — are still at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, either due to their genes or their living environment.
This is where the latest research into CBD oil for cardiovascular health comes into the picture. The interest of CBD for health has gained a lot of attention lately and here, we will look into how CBD oil can benefit your cardiovascular health.
How do our lifestyle choices affect cardiovascular health?
There are many factors that can affect the health of our heart and blood vessels. Avoiding stress, quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, and exercising regularly in combination with a healthy diet are among the manageable choices we can make in order to reduce our risks of developing a cardiovascular disease.
And the reasons for this are quite simple: tobacco, alcohol, sugars, and fatty foods increases the cholesterol in your blood, thickening it and putting extra stress on your body to keep the blood clean. Furthermore, unhealthy foods and habits can increase the level of inflammation in your body, irritating the heart and blood vessels, which can result in elevated blood pressure.
Although an elevated blood pressure (also known as hypertension) naturally pumps blood through the body faster, the blood that is being transported is also lower in oxygen. As such, less oxygen reaches the heart and the blood vessels, which can then cause damage or ischaemia (a shortage of blood supply in bodily tissues).
Other factors such as certain ethnicities, family history and age can also put you at higher risk of developing CVD. This means that for some, it can be extremely difficult to tell if we are at risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, which makes a healthy diet and regular exercise relevant for all of us, if we want to prevent heart and vascular health conditions.
Why is cardiovascular health so important?
Cardiovascular diseases is an umbrella term that covers a long list of conditions that affects the transportation of blood throughout the body. In the UK, CVDs are responsible for 25% of all death, which means that one Briton dies every three minutes due to a flaw in the circulatory system.
The good news is that this number has declined over the past 40 years, but the frequency of which CVD kills a person in the UK is still staggering. Particularly the amount of people with coronary heart disease is concerning, as it kills more than 66,000 Britons each year and is also the leading cause of death worldwide.
The reason why our cardiovascular system is important for our general health is the fact that without it, we would die. This system is not just responsible for supplying blood to our body, but also the oxygen that is transported in the blood. As such, when blood is not pumped around in our body, the individual organs and body parts are suddenly without oxygen. And it is this deficiency that can cause detrimental tissue damage.
What happens to our cardiovascular system, when there is no oxygen?
When blood stops pumping through the body, the tissue of our blood vessels and heart, among others gets damaged due to the lack of oxygen to keep this tissue alive. The body’s response to a sudden lack of oxygen is to attempt repairing the damage by releasing inflammatory compounds, such as free radicals. The reason for this response is less known, but most base their theories on the body’s natural protection of cells.
However, in spite of this attempt to fix and limit the damage, once oxygen is reintroduced (i.e. when the blood flow returns to the tissue), the now-inflamed tissue is exposed to further damage, because of the inflammations. The reintroduced oxygen feeds the inflammations, which can damage cellular proteins, plasma membranes and even our DNA.
How might CBD help avoid cardiovascular damage?
CBD is well-known for its potential to reduce inflammations and oxidative stress, as it is both anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. These properties are beneficial for the heart and blood vessels, because it can reduce the stress that high oxygen and inflammations levels in our cells causes.
As such, the cells in ischaemic and post-ischaemic tissue (tissue that is or has been without oxygen) have a greater chance of minimizing the damage if CBD is introduced to the cardiovascular system. Studies on CBD and ischaemic tissue has shown that CBD have significant cardioprotective effects, because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant mechanisms in the heart.
CBD could therefore be an effective and preventative treatment for CVD. When CBD was introduced to the cardiovascular system before restarting the heart (and thereby before blood flow was reintroduced to the damaged tissue), the inflammations and oxidative stress was reduced. This suggests that CBD oil could prevent severe damage caused by a CVD and even prevent the occurrence of such an episode.
Similar studies have also found that CBD could reduce the size of an infarct (where tissue is without oxygen), increase blood flow to possibly prevent the infarct and also improve the speed of recovery. Moreover, by targeting the endocannabinoid system in order to reduce hypertension (high blood pressure), CBD could help reduce the risk of developing CVD. CBD has also been shown to reduce the incidents of ventricular tachycardia, also known as arrhythmia, as well as diabetes-related heart disease and inflammations, and fibrosis (scar tissues inside the body).
Who can benefit from using CBD oil for cardiovascular health?
As mentioned earlier, it can be extremely difficult to determine if and when we will develop a heart condition or cardiovascular disease. As such, we could potentially all benefit from the cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of CBD.
However, people with a high sensitivity to serotonin (our happy chemical) could especially benefit from a daily dose of CBD oil, because they are more susceptible to the subtle changes in serotonin levels and thereby also more sensitive to stress. CBD has been found to reduce the cardiovascular response to stress, and thereby reduce hypertension and enable a healthy flow of blood throughout the body.
Furthermore, as CBD interacts directly with the receptor that receives serotonin (called 5HT1A receptors), CBD oil has been indicated by researchers to have antidepressant properties which could help reduce anxiety, stress and therefore possibly also the risk of CVD.
Some studies out there warn against the possible adverse effects on the heart function by using cannabis, but these studies have focused on the recreational use of psychoactive cannabinoids (i.e. not CBD) and particularly among young people. As such, these studies have focused on the cannabis plant variety known as “marijuana”, which normally contains high levels of the psychoactive compound THC.
In stark contrast to such warnings, CBD oil derived from hemp is not psychoactive and contains extremely low levels of THC. Moreover, the high levels of CBD in hemp oil are able to counter the effects of THC, which means that the ratio of CBD (3-15%) compared to the trace amount of THC (less than 0,2%) ensures that the CBD neutralizes the THC.
As such, CBD oil is safe to use and has nothing to do with the scientific warnings against the use of marijuana, which can further be confirmed by the fact that WHO has deemed CBD to be harmless and also beneficial to our health.
CBD oil for cardiovascular health
CBD could potentially be a valid treatment and preventative option for thousands of people who each year face a cardiovascular disease or health incident. Studies have found CBD to have significant protective abilities when it comes to the health of our heart and blood vessels, so if you know that you are at risk of developing a cardiovascular condition, then it is never too early to begin a CBD oil regimen.
It is important to note that it is still unknown which medicines exactly may be affected by the body’s way of absorbing CBD, which is why we always recommend that you talk with your GP if you are taking any medicines and consider taking CBD oil. If your GP is uncertain, he may be more informed about whether your medicines target the 5HT1A receptor. If they do, you need to be careful when taking CBD oil.
If you don’t take any medicines, CBD oil can be the perfect dietary supplement — especially if you have a family history of cardiac or vascular issues. CBD is legal, non-psychoactive and completely safe to use as a supplement to your daily health. As such, why not boost your body and already now protect it from the possibly detrimental consequences of a stroke, heart attack or other health issues in the future?
As CBD is shown to reduce the damage of such a health issue when taken before the incident, you can already now both prevent and reduce damage to your cardiac health by taking a daily drop or two of CBD oil. After all, better safe than sorry.