“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.”
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.”
“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.”
What We Know About CBD
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 cannabidiol were later approved: dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) for treatment of nausea during cancer chemotherapy and nabilone (Cesamet) to treat weight loss associated with AIDS.
“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.
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.”
“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.
THC and CBD are both vasodilators, meaning they widen your blood vessels, a process regulated by the endocannabinoid system. This can have a pronounced positive effect on blood pressure. In a 2017 study, British researchers gave a group of men either 600 mg of CBD or a dummy supplement and monitored their blood pressure at rest and again after stress tests that normally increased blood pressure. Just that single dose of CBD reduced the participants’ resting systolic blood pressure by 6 mmHg. Plus, they had less of a spike in blood pressure in response to stress than those taking a single dose of a placebo pill.
Similarly, a stroke, which is sometimes called “ brain attack,” occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or reduced. So the same precautions that protect against heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease (like diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle that can include CBD supplementation) can help prevent stroke. CBD can also play a key role in protecting the brain after a stroke.
Inside Your Arteries
Research shows that CBD can help maintain healthy cardiovascular function and prevent heart disease on a number of fronts, including protecting against hardening of the arteries, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the incidence of potentially dangerous arrhythmias.
If you’re already taking medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, or other heart conditions, it’s important to consult with your doctor before you start taking CBD . High doses of CBD may interfere with the metabolism of some of these drugs, which could have problematic consequences.
An excerpt from The Essential Guide to CBD by the editors of Reader’s Digest & Project CBD .