In recent years, CBD oil has been called the 'miracle of the modern age'. But what is CBD, and can CBD products help the heart? Studies show that cannabidiol (CBD) help reduce the incidence of irregular heartbeats caused by reduced blood flow or ischemia. Learn more. CBD oil is made from cannabis plants but won’t make you high. Still, this natural supplement could interact with some heart medicines. Find out what you need to know before you try CBD oil for heart failure.
CBD: What is it, and can it help the heart?
CBD is the latest health craze to sweep the high street, with claims it can help everything from chronic pain and inflammation to anxiety. But what is CBD, and can it really help the heart? Emily Ray finds out.
What is CBD, and is it legal in the UK?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical that’s extracted from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. Cannabis itself is an illegal class B drug, as is the compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which it contains. But pure CBD isn’t illegal, as it doesn’t cause the intoxicating effects of cannabis.
What CBD products are available?
The choice of CBD products has exploded recently: you can buy oils, capsules, muscle gels, sprays and oral drops, as well as beer, tea, sweets, hummus and even CBD-infused clothing.
Many of these can be easily picked up from reputable high street stores, such as Holland & Barrett or Boots.
Prices can be high: a 500mg bottle of CBD oil oral drops could set you back as much as £45. Not that this has put people off: over the past two years, sales of CBD have almost doubled in the UK, putting regular users at an estimated quarter of a million.
What is CBD used for?
A 2018 report by the World Health Organization suggested that CBD may help treat symptoms relating to conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), anxiety, depression, insomnia and Alzheimer’s disease.
However, it also notes that this research is still in the early stages, and that more studies are needed before conclusions can be drawn on whether CBD is effective.
CBD’s popularity has been given a boost by the fact that two CBD-containing medicines have been approved for prescription use by the NHS in England: Epidyolex, which has been found to reduce the number of seizures in children with severe epilepsy, and Sativex, which contains a mixture of CBD and THC, and is licensed for treatment of muscle stiffness and spasms in people with MS.
Does CBD work?
Harry Sumnall, Professor in Substance Use at Liverpool John Moores University, says: “In terms of the products found in shops, there’s virtually no evidence to support the claims made for a lot of them. There’s a lot of marketing that says CBD is a ‘miracle of the modern age’; however, the marketing has actually overtaken the evidence of what it’s effective for.”
“In terms of the products found in shops, there’s virtually no evidence to support the claims made for a lot of them.”
Harry Sumnall, Professor in Substance Use at Liverpool John Moores University
Professor Sumnall argues that while it could be effective for some people, in some of these cases the results could be caused by the placebo effect (where the patient’s belief in a treatment makes them feel better). The placebo effect can be powerful, but Professor Sumnall warns that if people try CBD oil instead of speaking to their doctor, it could cause a problem.
The biggest difference between CBD used in clinical trials and in stores is the dose. Research has shown that some products contain very little CBD (or even none at all). Others contain THC or other illegal drugs, or even alcohol instead of CBD. By contrast, in clinical trials the CBD is purified, manufactured to a very high standard and given at a much higher dose. It is also taken regularly and under medical supervision.
Since 2016, any CBD product that is presented as having medicinal value must be licensed and regulated as a medicine, regardless of whether it is actually effective. Manufacturers must follow very specific and robust rules around production, packaging and the information provided.
But so far, Professor Sumnall points out, CBD products in shops are marketed as food supplements, not medicines, so none of them have gone through this process.
Can CBD help the heart?
Inflammation is part of the process that leads to many diseases, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, and there is some evidence that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. Other studies have suggested that CBD can have a protective effect on the heart: this has been proven in rats after a heart attack and in mice with some of the heart damage associated with diabetes. But because these studies are often based on findings in a lab or in animals, not in humans, we cannot yet be confident that CBD will benefit the human heart.
There is ongoing research into the use of purer forms of CBD for a variety of conditions, including heart and circulatory diseases and, in particular, diseases of the heart muscle, including myocarditis and some types of cardiomyopathy.
Some of this work is still in animals, and much more research is needed before we can definitively say that CBD can help in this area.
“It’s clear that CBD has potential,” says Professor Sumnall, “but we’re at a very early stage of that research.”
- Always talk to your doctor if you’re thinking about taking a CBD product to supplement your existing treatment.
Meet the expert
Harry Sumnall is a Professor in Substance Use at the Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University. He was a member of the UK Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs between 2011 and 2019.
CBD for Arrhythmia – August 2022
An arrhythmia (also called irregular heartbeat) is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heart. In an arrhythmia, the heart could either beat too fast, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern (1) .
In healthy adults, the heart regularly beats at a rate of 60 to 100 times per minute (2) . However, the sudden surge of stress, problems in the heart’s electrical signals, blood imbalance, and medicines may cause changes in the heart tissue, leading to arrhythmia (3) .
Cardiac arrhythmias can be classified according to their effect on the heart rate, with bradycardia indicating a heart rate of fewer than 60 beats per minute and tachycardia indicating a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute (4) .
Tachycardia or fast heart rate is further subdivided into supraventricular and ventricular arrhythmias (5) .
Supraventricular arrhythmia begins in the atrium (the heart’s upper chambers) or at the gateway of the lower chambers. In this case, the lower and upper chambers sometimes have uneven rhythms (6) .
Atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, and paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (extra heartbeats caused by electrical signals in the upper and lower chambers) are the types of supraventricular arrhythmia (7) .
On the other hand, the ventricular type of tachycardia is a regular but fast beating of the ventricles that may last for a few seconds (8) . This type of tachycardia does not generally cause severe heart problems (9) .
However, if ventricular arrhythmia lasts for longer than a few seconds, it may lead to a more dangerous condition, like ventricular fibrillation (10) .
Ventricular fibrillation happens when an erratic electrical impulse makes the ventricles quiver instead of beating naturally. This type of arrhythmia may cause cardiac arrest or heart failure (11) .
Symptoms of arrhythmias include (12) :
- Fast or slow heartbeat
- Skipping beats or heart palpitations
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Arrhythmias are often treated with a lifestyle change, like managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active (13) .
Some doctors advise people to take anti-arrhythmic medications, like beta-blockers (to treat hypertension or high blood pressure), adenosine (to slow down heart rate), blood thinners (to avoid blood clots), and more (14) .
CBD and Its Benefits
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the phytocannabinoids or naturally occurring components in a hemp plant (15) . Hemp is a cannabis plant strain that has low THC but abundant CBD conten t (16) .
CBD is non-psychoactive and non-addictive, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which gives the euphoric effect (17) . CBD oil is the typical form of CBD extract.
Phytocannabinoids (plant cannabinoids) interact with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS has an important role in the development of the central nervous system (CNS), endogenous and environmental insults, and synaptic plasticity (18) .
Although CBD and the ECS receptors, CB1 and CB2, do not significantly bind together, a study noted that CBD’s actions may be attributed to the inhibition of anandamide degradation or CBD’s antioxidant activity (19) .
Anandamide is a fatty acid neurotransmitter that acts as a messenger molecule. It plays a role in pain, depression, memory, appetite, and fertility (20) .
Research also suggests that CBD can induce protective effects that may help counteract the adverse effects of THC (21) .
CBD is believed to have potential therapeutic benefits in treating various diseases and conditions (22) .
An animal study that examined CBD’s neuroprotective properties has noted that CBD may reduce both the number of viable neurons and degenerating neurons by 50% in newborn piglets that have hypoxia (a condition in which the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply) and blockage of carotid arteries (hypoxia-ischemia) (24) .
The same study also suggested that CBD administration may be linked to hemodynamic, cardiac, and ventilatory beneficial effects (25) .
Another study on diabetic mice models showed that CBD treatment may reduce neurotoxicity, inflammation, and blood-retinal barrier breakdown (26) .
CBD’s anti-inflammatory characteristics were highlighted in a study on human sebocytes (sebum-producing cells) . Results suggested that CBD has potential benefits in the treatment of acne vulgaris (27) .
Moreover, a study suggested that CBD may help with cardiovascular disorders by reducing oxidative stress, fibrosis, and cell death (28) .
CBD and Arrhythmia: What Research Says
According to a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology , drastic cannabidiol or CBD administration suppressed irregular heartbeat caused by ischemia-induced heart arrhythmias (inadequate blood supply in the heart) in an animal model (29) . This result suggests that CBD may provide the heart with protection.
The study also noted that CBD reduced tissue death due to inadequate blood supply (infarction) before reperfusion (30) .
The American Heart Association describes ischemia as a condition characterized by a restricted or reduced blood flow (which also restricts the flow of oxygen) (31) .
In the same study, irregular heartbeats were monitored during ischemia before CBD perfusion periods (passage of fluid through the circulatory system).
The size of the infarct (a localized area of dead tissue) or obstructed blood supply and cell damage in the heart were also examined through the drawing of blood from the arteries (32) .
The researchers also found the following:
- Cannabidiol reduced the incidence of irregular heartbeats caused by reduced blood flow or ischemia.
- CBD minimized the infarct or damaged tissue size when the cannabinoid was administered before ischemia.
- The effect of CBD was dose-dependent.
- CBD may help prevent ventricular arrhythmias, characterized by irregular heartbeat occurring in the heart ventricles or heart chambers.
According to an article published by the University of Rochester Medical Center, as a result of long-term stress, high cortisol blood levels can raise blood cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, and blood sugar (33) . These are the common risk factors for arrhythmia and other heart diseases.
Meanwhile, CBD has been shown to possess anti-anxiety properties that may help combat stress.
Published in Neurotherapeutics Journal, a 2015 review of 49 studies suggested CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors linked to multiple disorders (34) .
In some cases that contribute to the development of ventricular tachycardia, open-heart surgery may be needed. An example of such a case is when there are blockages in the blood vessels (35) .
After surgery or a heart attack, an individual may experience loss of appetite due to surgical pain, which can eventually lead to low levels of calcium and potassium, slowing down long-term recovery (36) . Electrolyte imbalances can also make an individual susceptible to arrhythmia (37) .
Fortunately, when it comes to pain relief, CBD may be useful. A study published in Chemistry and Biodiversity showed that a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC helped with pain and sleep problems (38) .
Meanwhile, results from a study, which examined the interaction between cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, showed evidence of how the endocannabinoid system can regulate appetite (39) .
CBD’s potent anti-inflammatory properties were also demonstrated in a 2018 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (40) .
Working directly with the cannabinoid receptors of the body to help suppress inflammation, CBD may help people with myocarditis experience pain relief and reduced signs and symptoms.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle, which can cause arrhythmias (41) .
Side effects of CBD
Even though CBD has exhibited potential benefits for cardiovascular diseases, there are still risks to keep in mind when taking CBD.
Some of CBD’s known side effects include the following (42) :
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
Other side effects of CBD may also include nausea, stomach pain, or discomfort (43) .
There are possible drug-to-drug interactions between CBD and other medications. CBD may increase or decrease the liver breakdown of some medications, leading to either an overdose or a lack of the desired medicinal effects (44) .
First time CBD users are advised to start slow at a low dose of CBD. More importantly, a physician’s advice is recommended before using any CBD products.
Legality of CBD
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one CBD infused drug, Epidiolex, used to treat severe forms of childhood epilepsy (45) .
Epidiolex is an oral solution formulated to help with seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome (46) .
According to the USFDA, the administration of this CBD-infused drug, along with other medications, has shown effectiveness in reducing seizure frequency (47) .
Note that under the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp derivatives with 0.3% or less THC content are federally legal in the United States (48) .
However, different states in the US have specific regulations and stipulations regarding CBD products. It is advisable to research these laws to avoid unfortunate legal consequences.
Studies have begun to show some potential health benefits of CBD. This non-psychoactive cannabinoid from the cannabis plant may help prevent arrhythmia by providing its potential therapeutic properties.
However, side effects come with CBD use, such as possible interactions with drugs used to promote the health of the cardiovascular system.
According to Mayo Clinic , other possible side effects of CBD use include drowsiness, dry mouth, diarrhea, fatigue, and reduced appetite (49) .
Thus, before using CBD or any CBD products (such as tincture, gummies, salves, patches, or lotions) as a supplement to an existing therapy or as a remedy for specific heart conditions arrhythmias, consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use for advice.
CBD Oil and Heart Failure
Could CBD oil ease your heart failure symptoms or help you manage your condition? This herbal supplement is sold over the counter and may be marketed with various health claims, but heart experts aren’t so sure it’s worthwhile or even safe if you have heart failure.
“Heart failure patients should know that while CBD has been touted as a wonder compound and seems to be in almost everything these days, it has never been shown to have any significant cardiovascular benefits in human studies,” says Scott Lundgren, DO, a transplant cardiologist at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil contains cannabidiol, an herbal liquid supplement made from the cannabis plant. It doesn’t have the same effect on the brain as THC, another compound found in cannabis that gives you a “high” when smoked or eaten, says Larry Allen, MD, associate division head for clinical affairs in cardiology at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
“There are no known cardiovascular benefits for cannabis or cannabidiol, and there may even be some adverse effects, so people should not take these products and think that it will have positive effects on their cardiovascular health,” says Allen, who’s also co-author of the American Heart Association’s statement on all cannabis products.
In 2018, the FDA approved the first oral, purified CBD drug, Epidiolex, to treat seizures in two rare forms of epilepsy. Two synthetic versions of cannabiinds are also approved: dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) for treatment of nausea during cancer chemotherapy and nabilone (Cesamet) to treat weight loss associated with AIDS. Marinol is synthetic THC
Some of CBD’s proven benefits in other health conditions may be intriguing to people living with heart failure, Allen says.
“Does it stimulate your appetite? Yes. Do people gain weight if they take it? Possibly true. Patients with severe heart failure do have cachexia,” or severe weight loss and muscle wasting, he says. “One could argue that people with nausea, lack of appetite, or who are losing weight could think CBD would help them. People with heart failure have a fair amount of discomfort, including edema [swelling] and somatic or pain-related issues, so you could think CBD has a role.”
But there isn’t really any evidence to prove that it will relieve heart failure symptoms or be safe to use if you have heart failure, he adds.
What We Know About CBD
Some research suggests that CBD oil may improve some heart-related symptoms:
- A very small study conducted in 2017 in England found that CBD improved resting blood pressure and blood pressure spikes related to stress in people without heart conditions.
- Various studies in animals have shown that CBD could improve vasorelaxation, or opening of arteries for better blood flow, as well as reduce inflammation. A small clinical trial from Mexico studying CBD in people with heart failure hasn’t reported any results yet.
- A large study of more than 161,000 people hospitalized for heart failure who had used marijuana found that they had, on average, a lower risk of death and shorter hospital stays. But this doesn’t necessarily mean CBD oil would have the same benefit.
It’s illegal in the U.S. to market CBD by adding it to any food or calling it a dietary supplement. Also, although the FDA has approved a few CBD drugs to treat certain diseases, don’t expect CBD sold over the counter to be safe or beneficial for heart failure, Lundgren says.
“CBD oil may not have the same properties, and it can actually cause gastrointestinal distress like diarrhea or cause decreased appetite. CBD products can include unknown ingredients and may not be accurately labeled,” he says.
When you use CBD oil, your liver breaks it down. During this process, it could interfere with your medications for heart failure or other heart conditions. “CBD has known interactions with warfarin, certain statins, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, and nitrates. Just because a supplement is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean that it is safe,” Lundgren says.
CBD May Have Health Risks
CBD oil must be studied in randomized clinical trials on people, not animals, before it can be considered safe or effective for heart failure, Lundgren says. Until that happens, he advises against buying or using CBD. “There is some evidence that CBD can cause liver injury as well as lead to male infertility issues. When consumed with alcohol, individuals may experience increased drowsiness, which can lead to household injuries.”
If you have heart failure, you might feel like you’re taking control of your own care by trying herbal treatments that don’t require a prescription. To be safe, talk to your cardiologist first: Ask questions about CBD oil and make decisions together about using this or any other supplement, Allen says.
“CBD products cost money and can distract you from taking prescribed treatments for heart failure that are evidence-based. They could do indirect harm to people with heart failure. . We already have a half-dozen treatments for heart failure symptoms and to help you live longer.”
Larry Allen, MD, MHS, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Scott Lundgren, DO, Nebraska Medicine.
FDA: “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD,” “FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy,” “FDA and Cannabis: Research and Drug Approval Process.”
JCI Insight: “A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study.”
Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity: “Therapeutic Applications of Cannabinoids in Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure.”
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.”
ClinicalTrials.gov: “Cannabidiol in Patients With Heart Failure in AHA/ACC Stages A-C (CAPITAL-AC).” NCT03634189.
Journal of Cardiac Failure: “Marijuana Use is Associated with Better Hospital Outcome in Patients with Acute Heart Failure: A Propensity Match Analysis from National Inpatient Database.”