CBD and Heart Health
What to Know About CBD for Heart Failure, Cholesterol, and Blood Pressure
Lindsay Curtis is a health writer with over 20 years of experience in writing health, science & wellness-focused articles.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Jeffrey S. Lander, MD, is a board-certified cardiologist and the President and Governor of the American College of Cardiology, New Jersey chapter.
Heart health is one of the areas being explored to determine the therapeutic health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). Nearly 655,000 Americans die from heart disease every year, accounting for one in every four deaths.
CBD cannot cure heart disease or congestive heart failure, but it is being studied for ways it may help reduce symptoms or prevent heart disease. However, CBD has not been shown in large studies to prevent diseases that lead to heart failure.
Read on to learn more about CBD’s benefits for the heart, what CBD oil is, side effects, and forms of CBD oil.
Verywell / Jessica Olah
What Is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol oil is extracted from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. CBD is a chemical that’s unique to the cannabis plant. The two major cannabinoids contained in cannabis plants are:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): It has psychoactive properties that create a “high” feeling.
- Cannabidiol (CBD): It has no psychoactive effects but provides several therapeutic benefits.
Both CBD and THC interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body. The ECS is a complex biological system that impacts many of the body’s functions, including appetite, memory, mood, and sleep. Researchers are learning that the endocannabinoid plays a role in the function of the cardiovascular (heart) system.
A growing body of evidence shows that dysregulated ECS is associated with a number of cardiovascular diseases. Whether you have a heart condition or want to prevent heart disease, CBD may boost your endocannabinoid system to help it regulate the cardiovascular system.
Overview of Heart Failure
Heart disease is an umbrella term that refers to several types of heart conditions. Heart disease may involve the heart valves, arteries, and heart rate, leading to heart failure.
Heart failure is a serious health condition in which the heart isn’t pumping the way it should be. The body depends on the heart’s pumping action to deliver oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to all of its cells.
With heart failure, the heart cannot supply the body’s cells with enough blood, leading to symptoms that can have a tremendous impact on your quality of life.
Heart failure has a number of causes, including genetics, other medical conditions (e.g., anemia, diabetes, sleep apnea), and lifestyle (e.g., smoking, obesity).
Symptoms of heart failure vary, depending on the type and severity of heart failure you have. Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Bluish-colored fingers and/or lips
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Lack of appetite
- Trouble concentrating
- Inability to sleep when lying flat
CBD and Heart Health
CBD has anti-inflammatory, antioxidative properties that may help reduce risk factors that can lead to heart disease. It may also be helpful in reducing the risk of related conditions, such as stroke.
Research suggests that even a single dose of CBD can lower blood pressure. High blood pressure has been linked to congestive heart failure. This is because high blood pressure makes it more difficult for blood to travel easily throughout the body, causing the heart to work harder.
While more research is needed to be sure, CBD may be helpful in lowering blood pressure to prevent congestive heart failure.
CBD oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce cholesterol levels to improve heart health. Cholesterol is a type of lipid (fat) found in the blood.
High cholesterol levels—particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL), aka “bad” cholesterol—increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. LDL can build up in the lining of blood vessels, causing a blockage that can lead to heart attack or stroke.
CBD has properties that help relax arterial walls, which research suggests may help reduce blood pressure and excess cholesterol. In animal studies, CBD has been shown to increase HDL levels—aka “good” cholesterol—and lower LDL levels after four weeks of CBD supplementation.
CBD is perhaps best known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests that inflammation may be at the root of many chronic illnesses. Heart disease is associated with inflammation. Inflamed blood vessels make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.
One study found that CBD has a direct effect on the arteries, helping reduce inflammation and improving blood flow. This suggests that CBD reduces inflammation in arteries and blood vessels, easing the strain on the heart, potentially preventing heart failure.
Obesity is one of the leading causes of congestive heart failure, which is one reason why it is important to maintain a healthy weight for optimal heart health. There is some evidence to suggest that CBD may help maintain a healthy weight.
One study found that CBD promotes the browning of white fat cells, which aids in converting the fat into burnable calories. This is beneficial because brown fat cells contain more mitochondria than white fat cells, which helps burn calories. White fat cells contain droplets of fat that accumulate around the body and can lead to obesity.
Are There Any Side Effects?
CBD has few side effects, and the World Health Organization states that it is generally well tolerated and has a good safety profile. While relatively safe, there are a few things to consider before you try CBD.
If you are currently taking any other medications, speak with your doctor before trying CBD. Some research suggests that CBD may interfere with the way the liver processes certain medications.
This interference may prevent the liver from metabolizing other medications as it normally would, leading to higher concentrations of the medication in the body and increasing the risk of liver toxicity.
Best CBD for Heart Health
CBD comes in many different forms, including oils and tinctures, edibles, topicals, and vaporizers. Taking CBD oil sublingually (under the tongue) is an easy way to enjoy the benefits. Using sublingual oils tends to work faster and produce stronger results than other edible products, such as gummies.
Vaping CBD is a fast way of delivering CBD into your system, but it is not recommended for individuals with heart disease. Vaping is associated with lung damage, and research shows it causes an increased risk in developing cardiovascular disease.
There are a number of CBD types to choose from. Understanding these differences can help you choose which type is best for your needs. These types include:
- Isolate: CBD is the only cannabinoid contained in the product.
- Full-spectrum: Contains multiple naturally occurring cannabis plant extracts, including terpenes, other cannabinoids, and up to 0.3% THC.
- Broad: Contains CBD and other components/cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but does not contain any THC.
The availability of these products varies from state to state, particularly for products that contain THC.
If you’re just starting off with CBD, try a small dose first. Watch for any side effects. If you wish, you can slowly increase your dosage (no more than 5 to 10 mg increase at a time) until you find the dosage that is right for you.
How to Buy CBD
With so many CBD options available, shopping for the right product can be an overwhelming experience. Some important things to keep in mind when buying CBD include:
- Cannabis source: CBD is derived from cannabis plants, and it’s important the CBD is sourced from a company that takes care in the quality and cultivation of their plants. Look for products that come from organic plants when possible.
- Certificate of Analysis (CoA): Responsible, reputable manufacturers offer a CoA that clearly states the amounts of cannabinoids in a product. CoAs are conducted by an independent, accredited lab.
- Read the label: Read the full list of ingredients contained in CBD to know what you are consuming.
- Type of CBD: To get the best results, look for full-spectrum or broad CBD products. These may offer an “entourage effect,” combining the effects of multiple cannabis compounds that work in synergy to offer the most benefits.
CBD oil is extracted from the cannabis plant. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. Researchers are looking into ways it could be beneficial for heart health. While it has few side effects, it may slow liver metabolism and affect other medications you are taking.
Cannabidiol comes in several forms and methods of application. People with heart disease should avoid products that require vaping or smoking.
A Word From Verywell
While CBD is not a cure for heart failure, it may prevent further damage thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. CBD may be helpful in reducing blood pressure, decreasing inflammation and cholesterol, and maintaining a healthy weight. Improving these factors may reduce the risk of heart failure.
Speak with your doctor before trying CBD, particularly if you are on any other medications or dietary supplements. Your doctor can let you know if it is safe to take, and may have product and/or dosage recommendations.
Frequently Asked Questions
How safe is CBD for congestive heart failure?
CBD is generally considered to be safe for congestive heart failure. Research shows no significant adverse effects of CBD at a wide range of doses (anywhere from 3 to 1,200 mg/day).
CBD has significant potential to treat a variety of heart diseases and comes with few adverse side effects, though more research is needed. Talk with your doctor before using CBD for heart disease, particularly if you are currently taking any other medications.
Does CBD lead to heart problems?
CBD alone does not lead to heart problems. However, CBD is broken down and metabolized by the liver. During this process, it may interfere with your medications for any heart conditions you have. This may lead to liver problems or interfere with the effectiveness of any medications you are taking.
Exercise caution and speak with your doctor before using CBD for heart failure.
Can CBD cause heart palpitations?
The cardiovascular effects of CBD are currently being studied. Some research suggests that cannabis use may cause arrhythmia (irregular heart rate) or tachycardia (increase in heart rate).
However, those studies included products that also contain THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. More research is needed to determine if CBD causes heart palpitations.
Heart Health and CBD: Can CBD for Congestive Heart Failure Help?
Today, let’s explore heart health and CBD. Globally, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death all around the world. In the United States, it kills around 655,000 people each year, which translates to one in every four deaths. This means that heart disease kills someone every 37 seconds in the United States.
It also means that many people are now taking heart medications. But these drugs can cause other health complications, so a safer alternative would be ideal. And that’s where heart health and CBD could be an interesting combination. Already, many people report that CBD has positive effects on anxiety, depression, pain, nausea, and even heart disease. So, is there a positive connection between CBD and congestive heart failure?
Hemp plant products seem to offer certain heart health benefits , but research is still early. Also, the FDA does not regulate CBD products, which can be pretty tricky. In fact, there’s only CBD product with official FDA approval, and that’s Epidiolex, an epilepsy medication. So, should you take CBD if you have a heart condition? Is it safe? What are the side effects? To learn this and more, read on.
Heart Failure, What Is It?
The term heart failure sounds like your heart isn’t working, and that you can’t resolve that situation. However, this is not the case. We say you’re in heart failure (or congestive heart failure) when your heart muscle does not pump blood properly. This can develop because of high blood pressure or narrow arteries, leaving your heart too weak to fill and pump as it should.
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure affects about 5.7 million people in the United States alone, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Men are most affected: heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalizations in men older than 65. Women tend to have heart failure later in life than men, usually due to high blood pressure. They may also have more shortness of breath than men.
When you develop heart failure, your heart works less effectively than it did before. Blood then moves at a slower rate through the body, leading to higher pressure in the heart. Because of this, your body doesn’t get enough oxygen and nutrients; also, your heart chambers may stretch to hold more blood or become stiff and thick. It may also pump faster to increase its blood output. This will help keep your blood moving, but the heart’s muscle walls will eventually weaken and not pump effectively.
This can trigger a domino effect of trouble. Your kidneys can malfunction, causing the body to retain more fluid and salt. That fluid then builds up in other areas, such as your arms, legs, lungs, feet, and other organs. This leads to congestion in the body. It can involve the left side, right side, or both sides of the heart. However, it usually begins with the left side. Cannabidiol’s properties of vasodilation make CBD and congestive heart failure a promising field.
Signs And Symptoms
- Shortness of breath.
- Fatigue and leg weakness when you are active.
- Need to urinate at night.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats.
- Swelling in ankles, legs, and abdomen.
- Loss of appetite.
- Protruding neck veins.
- Persistent coughing.
- Sudden weight gain from fluid retention.
Causes of Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure starts with conditions that damage the heart muscle, hence weakening it. However, the heart does not need to be weakened to cause heart failure; this can also occur when it becomes too stiff. Some of the medical conditions that cause heart failure include:
- Coronary Artery Disease: CAD is a disease of the arteries that causes a decrease in blood flow to the heart muscle.
- High Blood Pressure: causes the heart to work harder than usual to circulate blood. With time, the extra exertion can cause the muscle to become too stiff or weak to pump blood as it should.
- Myocarditis: refers to the inflammation of the heart muscle and is caused by a virus, such as the Coronavirus. It can lead to left-sided heart failure.
- Heart Attack: happens when there is a blockage in a coronary artery, stopping the blood flow to the heart muscle. It damages the heart muscle, causing a scarred area that does not function efficiently. The heart may become more prominent or stiff.
- Cardiomyopathy: a disorder of the heart muscle that causes the heart to become weak. It is caused by several things such as alcohol abuse, infections, and toxic effects of drugs such as cocaine. Also, genetic factors may play a role here.
- A Congenital Heart Defect: If you are born when the heart and its chambers are not finished forming, the healthy parts will have to overwork to compensate. This may, in turn, lead to heart failure.
- Other Diseases: Chronic diseases such as HIV and AIDS, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, or amyloidosis may also lead to heart failure.
- Medications: Some drugs used for chemotherapy may lead to heart failure.
Risks for Congestive Heart Failure
Some lifestyle factors may lead to heart failure. People at a greater risk of getting congestive heart failure include:
- People who use anabolic steroids.
- Drinking too much alcohol may weaken the heart and lead to heart failure.
- Obese people.
- People with diseases that damage the heart such as anemia, emphysema, hyperthyroidism, and hypothyroidism.
- People who are 65 years or older are at a higher risk of getting heart failure.
A healthy lifestyle will play a key role in helping prevent heart failure from developing. Some of the healthy lifestyle habits include:
- Losing weight and exercising regularly.
- Reducing salt intake.
- Reducing alcohol intake.
- Getting a good night’s sleep.
- Avoiding foods high in fat.
- Quitting smoking.
- Reducing and managing stress.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the over 100 chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. It is not intoxicating like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant, is. Therefore, you will not get a euphoric feeling when you take CBD, which has made it quite popular.
Effects Of CBD
Some of the areas where CBD has showed great potential are:
- pain relief
- anxiety and depression
- reducing acne
- alleviating cancer symptoms such as nausea and vomiting
- antipsychotic effects, hence beneficial for people with mental disorders.
- anti-seizure, hence a possible treatment for epilepsy.
- helps with sleep disorders.
- CBD and congestive heart failure: It could benefit heart health.
How Does CBD Work?
The human body has an endocannabinoid system that helps maintain homeostasis (balance) in the body. CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the body. There are two types of receptors in the body, namely CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are usually in the brain and help coordinate emotions, pain, movement, appetite, memories, thinking, and other functions. The latter is mainly in the immune system, hence affecting pain and inflammation. CBD stimulates these receptors to manage the body’s functions.
CBD and Congestive Heart Failure
When it comes to CBD and congestive heart failure, cannabinoid receptors in the heart play a role. These communicate with the body to help regulate certain heart functions. Also, CBD can help reduce the risk factors that lead to heart disease due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. However, there is still ongoing research on CBD and heart disease, as it is still in its infancy.
Benefits of CBD and Congestive Heart Failure
Research on CBD shows that it may have several benefits to the heart and the circulatory system. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties; hence it helps reduce the inflammation of the heart. It also delays the reabsorption of adenosine, which helps with inflammation and helps maintain healthy heart functions.
It lowers blood pressure, which leads to stroke and heart failure, which cause heart attacks. For instance, CBD lowers blood pressure by widening the blood vessels and enabling blood to flow easily. This happens because CBD is a vasodilator.
Risks of CBD
Research and anecdotal evidence shows that CBD is very safe. However, it is crucial to note that everyone is different, and may have different reactions when they take it. Some possible side effects include diarrhea, fatigue, weight changes, and changes in appetite. It can also interact with other medications, potentially endangering the liver.
CBD could be a great option for reducing certain risks that lead to heart issues. However, as seen above, there is still a lot of research to be done on CBD and congestive heart failure. Therefore, you should be sure to talk to your doctor before taking CBD. You should also avoid it during your pregnancy or when breastfeeding . Also, please start with the minimum dosage as you note how your body responds to it. Monitor your symptoms and conditions to guide you on how to go about it. Also, remember that a healthy diet and regular exercise are crucial to maintaining your heart health.