POTS, Dysautonomia, and Medical Cannabis
When I tell people that I have a condition called POTS they often laugh and crack a joke about how it’s the perfectly named condition for me given my line of work and passion. I can’t help but chuckle and agree, but the reality of living with a condition like POTS is far from a laughing matter.
Before I was dealing with the symptoms myself I had no understanding of or awareness of the disorder or it’s umbrella category – dysautonomia. This was a bit of surprise to me considering I’d devoted my entire career to helping people with chronic illness. So how did I learn about it? By passing out cold in the bathroom and slicing my head open on a cabinet and toilet roll holder – more than once. What can I say, I like to learn things the hard way.
POTS stands for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a form of dysautonomia.
Let’s break those two down.
Dysautonomia refers to any disorder of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS controls important parts of our body that we don’t have to think about like blood vessels, stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys, heart, etc. Common forms of dysautonomia include POTS, neurocardiogenic syncope, multiple system atrophy, and diabetic autonomic neuropathy. While dysautonomia can develop for a range of reasons, conditions such as diabetes, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and celiac disease can contribute to its onset.
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is a form of orthostatic intolerance, meaning symptoms surface when standing from a reclining position and may be relieved upon lying back down. By definition POTS is a rapid increase in heart beat when standing (over 30bpm), but other symptoms can include dizziness, light headiness, fatigue/exhaustion, chest pain, brain fog, temperature deregulation, nausea, and other similar symptoms.
People with POTS have difficulty regulating blood flow and volume, meaning blood pressure and heart rate become unstable. For me this leads to episodes of Neurocardiogenic Syncope (NCS) in which I faint and loose consciousness. When I come to I experience extreme nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and a general feeling of unwellness. Many individuals with dysautonomia have other related conditions like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, gastroparesis, and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) that include symptoms of severe pain, stomach discomfort, difficulty with appetite, and allergic reactions. Many of these symptoms can be managed with cannabis, but there are also some things to be aware of.
Using Medical Cannabis for Dysautonomia – Things to Know
Every single person will respond to cannabis differently. Patients with dysautonomia find that cannabis helps them immensely for some symptoms, but can exacerbate others. Being aware of these potential side effects is important to getting the most out of your cannabis routine.
THC can raise heart rate.
Individuals with POTS by definition have difficulty with tachycardia, or an elevated heart rate. THC can raise heart rate for the short-term, while lowering it over the long term. Some patients with POTS have difficulty bringing their heart rate back into a normal range – even requiring IV fluids and medications to do so. Some cannabis users are particularly sensitive to this increase in heart rate and finds it worsens these POTS symptoms. Other dysautonomia patients, like myself, actually benefit from this action – I medicate with THC prior to showering as my heart rate and BP tends to bottom out during and after showers. I can use it mindfully to help regulate my heart rate and BP when needed.
Cannabis can trigger orthostatic hypotension.
Cannabis contributes to vasodilation, which for many people with chronic illness is an added benefit (reduces blood pressure). Patients already prone to orthostatic hypotension (a severe drop in blood pressure when changing from sitting/laying to standing) may find these symptoms exacerbated with cannabis, especially with high doses. As orthostatic dysfunction is a hallmark feature of dysautonomia, patients should be mindful of this potential exacerbation when using cannabis and take necessary precautions.
Everyone responds differently.
I do well with THC – I can use it mindfully to raise my heart rate in situations where my dysautonomia causes it to drop, but products and strains dominant in CBD seem to exacerbate my symptoms and propensity towards syncope (more on this below). It’s important that dysautonomia patients are aware of both the positive and potential negative effects of cannabis so they can effectively monitor their symptoms and results.
Benefits are varied and affect multiple systems.
Cannabis has neuroprotective and anti-oxidant properties. There is some suggestion that cannabis may be healing for dysautonomia patients by addressing the underlying nerve damage. However, this is a theoretical assumption and beyond our current understanding of the plant. Most dysautonomia cannabis patients use it to manage day to day symptoms including nausea, fatigue, and pain. Cannabis may also be effective in managing inflammation and other symptoms associated with commonly co-morbid conditions. For example, patients with related MCAS my find cannabis topicals helpful for localized reactions and those with gastroparesis may find it helpful for appetite.
My Personal Experience
Cannabis has been life changing for me in so many ways, but when I started experiencing symptoms of dysautonomia, primarily fainting episodes, my world was thrown upside down. My cannabis physician and friend Dr. Scott Gebhardt suggested to me that my CBD intake could be contributing to my episodes and recommended I take it out of my routine to test if it could be contributing. I was less than willing to take on this experiment, so I initially stopped my oral doses for only a week. My dysautonomia symptoms weren’t improving and my pain was increasing so I called the ‘experiment’ a loss and started taking my oral CBD again.
Months went by and my dysautonomia symptoms were continuing to worsen. I had continued to up my CBD intake over this time – both orally and via inhalation. Dr. Gebhardt was still in my ear about my CBD use dropping my blood pressure and contributing to my orthostatic episodes. I really really didn’t want to hear him.
Every time I faint or have a near fainting episode I feel a little piece of my independence slip away. Not wanting this anymore, I finally gave in and stopped my CBD intake all together – no oral and no CBD dominant strains or 1:1 via inhalation. I had to make adjustments to my overall routine to better manage my pain without the CBD, but to my surprise I went THREE MONTHS without having a fainting episode, something that was happening far more regularly prior to stopping. The first syncope episode I had after cutting out my CBD was when my air conditioner broke (heat is a major trigger). I’ve experienced a drastic reduction in orthostatic intolerance with almost no pre-syncopal episodes.
While I can’t deny that CBD was contributing to my dysautonomia symptoms, my endometriosis symptoms have really ramped up without it. I recently tried to add inhaled CBD dominant products back into my routine to work on this pain. Unfortunately, I was met with the full array of my dysautonomia symptoms – including fainting. Now that I have a better understanding of how cannabis affects my blood pressure and symptoms, I’m better able to manage both my dysautonomia and medical cannabis use.
I Have Dysautonomia and Want to Try Medical Cannabis – What Does This Mean for Me?
Choose a quality cannabis physician (who knows a thing or two about dysautonomia).
Despite all of my knowledge and experience with cannabis, I would have NEVER stopped taking my CBD and identified it as a trigger if it wasn’t for the outside perspective and guidance from my cannabis physician, Dr. Scott Gebhardt. Choose a physician who understands the plant and body, looks at the bigger picture, and is not just there to issue a certification. This will pay you back in ways you never imagined.
EVERY single patient is different. Journal your cannabis use and symptoms to figure out your personal patterns, reactions, and best products.
Take your BP and HR.
As patients with dysautonomia can have difficulty regulating blood pressure and heart rate, be mindful to take regular readings when starting a new cannabis routine.
Keep a positive mindset.
Cannabis is psychoactive and sensitive to set and setting. If you go into a situation expecting a negative reaction, you are more prone to have one. Try to be calm and collected before medicating.
How CBD can help for Autonomic Dysfunction
The autonomic nervous system controls the functions responsible for well-being and the maintenance of balance. Autonomous dysfunction occurs when the system is not properly regulated.
Table of Contents
Autonomic dysfunction is commonly called autonomic neuropathy. And describes many conditions caused by damage to the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is the division of the peripheral nervous system that unconsciously controls body function:
- Heart rate.
- Control of blood pressure.
- Regulation of temperature and digestion.
Parkinson’s disease can cause orthostatic hypotension and other symptoms of ANS damage. This often causes significant disability in individuals with this disease. Several common conditions such as diabetes and alcohol abuse can include autonomic neuropathy.
Autonomic Dysfunction Types and Side Effects
CBD oil for autonomic disfunction
Neurocardiogenic syncope (NCS) is the most common autonomic dysfunction. It affects tens of millions of people worldwide. The main symptom is fainting, also called syncope. This can occur on occasion only, or it may be frequent enough to disrupt a person’s daily life.
Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a fatal form of autonomic dysfunction. It has similarities to Parkinson’s disease, nonetheless, with a life expectancy of only 5 to 10 years from its diagnosis.
Orthostatic hypotension is a type of orthostatic intolerance. Which occurs when blood pressure drops significantly when standing up, including fainting.
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is an abnormal increase in heart rate that occurs after sitting or standing. Is diagnosed only when orthostatic hypotension has been ruled out. And besides, there is no acute dehydration or blood loss.
Holmes-Adie syndrome (HAS) affects the nerves that control the muscles of the eye, causing vision problems. One pupil will likely be larger than the other, and it will constrict slowly in bright light. It mostly affects the nerves controlling the muscles of the eye, causing vision problems.
Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy (HSAN) is a genetic disorder that affects the development and survival of certain nerve cells. Problems related to this disorder first appear during infancy. Early signs and symptoms include:
- Poor muscle tone.
- Feeding difficulties.
- Poor growth.
- Lack of tears.
- Frequent lung infections.
- Difficulty maintaining body temperature.
Older infants and young children may hold their breath for prolonged periods of time. Which may cause a bluish appearance of the skin or lips (cyanosis) or fainting.
Traditional Treatment for Autonomic Dysfunction
There is no cure for most types of autonomic dysfunction. Nonetheless, symptomatic treatment is available for many symptoms associated with this disease, and some disease processes can be treated directly.
The prognosis for people with autonomic dysfunction depends on the particular diagnostic category. People with chronic, progressive, and generalized autonomic neuropathy generally have a poor long-term prognosis. Death can occur from pneumonia or acute breathing failure.
The illness is difficult to diagnose and an incorrect diagnosis is common. Symptoms can be mistaken for those of another condition that is already present. Diagnosis is made by functional testing of the ANS, focusing on the affected organ system. A successful diagnosis often results from collaboration between several specialists.
In any case, the neurologist will review the results of previously performed tests. And it will create a report that includes a detailed diagnosis and treatment plan.
On the one hand, the treatment can help people control their side effects and experience a better quality of life. Those treatments plans may include medications to:
- Help stabilize blood pressure.
- Control symptoms such as intolerance to high temperatures.
- Control digestion problems and bladder function.
On the other hand, it also helps to change life habits such as:
- Drink plenty of fluids (better fortified with electrolytes.)
- Elevating the head of your bed.
- Adding salt to your diet.
- Changing positions slowly.
- Exercise regularly.
- Wear clothes to improve vasomotor problems (compression stockings, compression tights and cooling vests).
Another alternative may be Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which can be combined with mindfulness.
CBT is based on the idea that thoughts and responses create negative moods. By identifying and adjusting inaccurate or distorted thoughts, moods can be improved. CBT is very helpful when it comes to chronic or recurring thoughts.
Patients with the disease can become frustrated in reaching a diagnosis and dealing with the healthcare system. So thought patterns emerge that can be detrimental to physical and psychological health.
What is CBD and How Does it Work for Autonomic Dysfunction?
CBD is a component present on the cannabis plant and on hemp plants. This component is the main component to use on medicinal products.
We at Canalanza obtain the purest CBD at 99.3% being one of the top ones obtaining this purity. Finca Canalanza is located in the Biosphere Nature Reserve in the Volcanic Canarian island of Lanzarote
CBD is only one component of the many components that helps the endocannabinoid system.
CBD is a non addictive component. It is found on the cannabis plant and hemp plants. Always is necessary a long term contract by FDA approved or an AMPS approval to produce or to sell CBD products.
In summary, CBD is a non addictive natural compound with great potential in natural and therapeutic medicine. Today, research on the multiple benefits of CBD on improving the ailments of various diseases is encouraging.
How can help CBD with Autonomic Dysfunction
CBD is the major no psychotropic effect component extracted from the Cannabis plant. CBD interacts with the human endocannabinoid system and has shown positive results in regulating and stabilizing it.
Cannabinoids in cannabis have been shown to stimulate neuroregeneration and limit neuronal damage. They also play a role in regulating the immune system. These effects regulate inflammatory reactions through components of adaptive and innate immune responses.
Cannabinoids have been shown to be potentially effective for autonomic neuropathy through their interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Which is a complex system, responsible for regulating various bodily processes to maintain health and prevent disease.
The modulation of the endocannabinoid system has shown to be medically beneficial by slowing down the progression of neuronal disorders. One study provided evidence that activation of CB2 receptor attenuates autonomic function after a spinal cord injury.
Some symptoms of autonomic dysfunction that CBD can help with include:
- Nausea and vomiting: cannabinoids work as an antiemetic.
- Sexual functioning: There is a positive association between cannabis and impotence and it helps with erectile function.
- Lack of appetite: Medical cannabis stimulates your metabolism, which helps increase your hunger. It can also help you gain weight.
- Diarrhea: works as a treatment for stomach problems and intestinal disorders.
- Anxiety: CBD (such as CBD oil) has similar propqerties to manufactured medicines.
- Depression: Provides energy to the user and improves their mood to help them with depressive emotions.
- Inflammation: It can effectively reduce chronic inflammation and pain related to inflammation.
CBD and Autonomic Disfunction
Studies indicate that CBD seems to be beneficial in preventing and treating autonomic dysfunction. In addition, it has shown to have antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. That it supports the health of the nervous system and could limit or prevent damage to the nerves. Cannabinoids found in cannabis, including CBD, have shown to be effective in limiting neuronal damage and promoting neurological regeneration.
Another study shows that cannabinoids play a role in regulating blood pressure. Cannabinoids that activate CB1 receptors have shown that blood vessels dilate, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. However, these findings may be of concern for those with low blood pressure and who are subject to fainting.
The vasodilator effect has been shown to help normalize blood pressure in people with hypertension. So the reduction in blood pressure caused by cannabinoids can increase the risk of fainting in a person with ANS.
How to take CBD OIL for Autonomic Dysfunction?
Now we know how the Natural CBD Oil elaborated by Laboratorios Canalanza can help you with most of the common symptoms.
Our suggestion is to start using our CBD oil Canalanza with 3-5 drops. Starting in the morning, before breakfast and under the tongue.
Leave the oil to dissolve with saliva for at least one minute.
Put 2-3 drops before having lunch and another 3-5 at night half an hour before going to sleep.
For better results increase with 1-2 drops in the morning dosage and 2-3 at night.
Our CBD oil has a natural flavor due to the Extra Virgin Olive Oil used as the base.
How to Buy CBD Oil for Autonomic Dysfunction online?
If you would like to order any of our CBD products, follow the next steps:
- First select any of our CBD products from our online shop and press on add to basket button
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In a few days you will receive it with total security at home.