A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study 1 Division of Medical Sciences & Graduate Entry Medicine, University of Nottingham, Royal Studies showed that CBD’s purported antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving effects may help alleviate symptoms of cardiovascular conditions. Does CBD Affect Heart Rate? We Review the Science and Conduct Our Own Experiments to Find Out It’s well known that THC increases heart rate and blood pressure, and that this is likely related to
A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study
1 Division of Medical Sciences & Graduate Entry Medicine, University of Nottingham, Royal Derby Hospital Centre, Derby, United Kingdom.
Garry D. Tan
2 The NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Churchill Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Saoirse E. O’Sullivan
1 Division of Medical Sciences & Graduate Entry Medicine, University of Nottingham, Royal Derby Hospital Centre, Derby, United Kingdom.
1 Division of Medical Sciences & Graduate Entry Medicine, University of Nottingham, Royal Derby Hospital Centre, Derby, United Kingdom.
2 The NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Churchill Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, United Kingdom.
BACKGROUND. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a nonpsychoactive phytocannabinoid used in multiple sclerosis and intractable epilepsies. Preclinical studies show CBD has numerous cardiovascular benefits, including a reduced blood pressure (BP) response to stress. The aim of this study was to investigate if CBD reduces BP in humans.
METHODS. Nine healthy male volunteers were given 600 mg of CBD or placebo in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study. Cardiovascular parameters were monitored using a finometer and laser Doppler.
CONCLUSIONS. This data shows that acute administration of CBD reduces resting BP and the BP increase to stress in humans, associated with increased HR. These hemodynamic changes should be considered for people taking CBD. Further research is required to establish whether CBD has a role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders.
Epidemiological studies have shown a positive relationship between long-term stress and the development of cardiovascular disease (1). Factors like social isolation, low socioeconomic status, depression, stressful family and work life, and anxiety are associated with an increased risk of the development and accelerated progression of existing cardiovascular disease. Current European guidelines on the prevention of cardiovascular disease have emphasized the importance of tackling these factors (2). Mental stress induces myocardial ischaemia in patients with stable coronary artery disease, and this appears to be mediated by adrenal release of catecholamines (3).
Cannabinoids (CBs) are compounds that bind to CB receptors or are structurally similar to compounds that bind to CB receptors. They include endogenously produced compounds (called endocannabinoids), synthetic compounds and phytocannabinoids obtained from the Cannabis sativa plant. There are over 80 known types of phytocannabinoids, the most widely studied of which is Δ 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ 9 -THC or THC), which is responsible for the psychoactive properties of cannabis (4). The other major phytocannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), which does not have psychoactive properties. CBD is currently the focus of much research due to its potential in a number of therapeutic areas, as it has been shown to have antiinflammatory, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, anxiolytic, antinausea, and antipsychotic properties (5). A number of preclinical studies have also shown beneficial effects of CBD in a range of disorders of the cardiovascular system (6). A CBD/THC combination (Sativex/Nabiximols, GW Pharmaceuticals) is licensed for the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and CBD alone (Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals) has entered an expanded access program in children with intractable epilepsies (Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome). Epidiolex has also received orphan designation status for the treatment of neonatal hypoxia-ischaemic encephalopathy.
CBD has multiple desirable effects on the cardiovascular system. It attenuates high glucose–induced proinflammatory changes in human coronary artery endothelial cells (7) and myocardial dysfunction associated with animal models of diabetes (8), and it preserves endothelial integrity in diabetic retinal microvasculature (9). In vivo administration of CBD before cardiac ischemia and reperfusion also reduces ventricular arrhythmias and infarct size. CBD also causes both acute and time-dependent vasorelaxation in isolated arteries in rats and humans (10–12). There is also evidence from animal studies that CBD modulates the cardiovascular response to stress. Resstel and colleagues (13) showed in rats that i.p. injection of CBD (10 and 20 mg/kg, –30 min) reduced restraint stress–induced cardiovascular response and behavior. Both these effects were blocked by preadministration of WAY100635 (0.1 mg/kg), a 5-hydroxytryptamine 1A (5HT1A) antagonist. These effects appear to be mediated centrally and involve the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a limbic structure that modulates neuroendocrine responses to acute stress (14).
Our recent systematic review showed us that there are no dedicated studies in humans to date, to our knowledge, looking at the effect of CBD on either resting cardiovascular measurement or on the responses to stress, with continuous monitoring of CV parameters (15). Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate whether CBD decreases the cardiovascular response to stress after the administration of a single dose of CBD (600 mg) in healthy volunteers, with the hypothesis that blood pressure would be reduced by CBD. Noninvasive cardiovascular measurements were used along with stress tests in the form of mental arithmetic, isometric exercise, and the cold pressor test.
Ten male subjects were recruited, but 1 withdrew for personal reasons. The mean age, weight, and height of the volunteers were 23.7 ± 3.2 years, 77.5 ± 6.4 kg, and 178.6 ± 4.5 cm (mean ± SD).
Effect of CBD on resting cardiovascular parameters.
Changes in resting cardiovascular parameters after a single dose (600 mg) of cannabidiol (CBD) in healthy volunteers (n = 9).
The effects of placebo (closed square) and CBD (open square) on systolic blood pressure (SBP) (A), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (B), mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) (C), heart rate (HR) (D), stroke volume (SV) (E), cardiac output (CO) (F), ejection time (EJT) (G), total peripheral resistance (TPR) (H), and forearm blood flow (I), measured continuously over 2 hours after drug ingestion, except for forearm blood flow. Forearm blood was measured over a time period of 2 minutes just before the start and in between the stress tests. Dotted line denotes baseline values between the stress tests. Repeated measures 2-way ANOVA; mean ± SEM (*/ + / # P < 0.05, **/ ++ / ## P < 0.01 using Bonferroni’s post-hoc analysis; + and # represent significant change in any parameter over time seen with placebo and CBD, respectively; denotes overall significant difference between 2 treatments).
There was a trend toward reduction in total peripheral resistance (TPR, Figure 1H ) with CBD in the latter half of the resting period, and a significant reduction in forearm skin blood flow before the start of the stress tests ( Figure 1I ; P < 0.01).
Effect of CBD on cardiovascular parameters mental stress.
The individual blood pressure responses of healthy volunteers to the stresses are presented in Figure 2 , showing the average baseline systolic or diastolic blood pressure in the 4 minutes preceeding the stress test, the peak response during stress, and the average recovery response in the 4 minutes after the stress test.
Individual systolic and diastolic blood pressure responses to all stress tests after a single dose (600 mg) of cannabidiol (CBD) or placebo in healthy volunteers (n = 9).
Green color coding shows subjectS who had a reduced (compared with placebo) blood pressure response to stress after taking CBD, and red color coding shows an increased blood pressure response to stress after taking CBD.
Mental stress test.
Cardiovascular response to mental stress after a single dose (600 mg) of cannabidiol (CBD) in healthy volunteers (n = 9).
The effects of placebo (closed square) and CBD (open square) on systolic blood pressure (SBP) (A), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (B), mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) (C), heart rate (HR) (D), stroke volume (SV) (E), cardiac output (CO) (F), ejection time (EJT) (G), total peripheral resistance (TPR) (H), and forearm blood flow (I), measured continuously just before, during, and after mental arithmetic test (dotted line denotes stress test period), except for forearm blood flow. Measurements for forearm blood flow were made over a 2-minute window just before, during, and after the stress test. Repeated measures 2-way ANOVA; mean ± SEM (+ and # denote significant change in a parameter during the stress period seen with placebo and CBD, respectively). + / # P < 0.05, ++ /# # P < 0.01.
Exercise stress test.
Cardiovascular parameters in response to exercise stress after a single dose (600 mg) of cannabidiol (CBD) in healthy volunteers (n = 9).
The effects of placebo (closed square) and CBD (open square) on systolic blood pressure (SBP) (A), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (B), mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) (C), heart rate (HR) (D), stroke volume (SV) (E), cardiac output (CO) (F), ejection time (EJT) (G), total peripheral resistance (TPR) (H), and forearm blood flow (I), measured continuously just before, during, and after isometric exercise test (dotted line denotes stress test period), except for forearm blood flow. Measurements for forearm blood flow were made over a 2-minute window just before, during, and after the stress test. Repeated measures 2-way ANOVA; mean ± SEM (*/ + / # P < 0.05; **/ ++ / ## P < 0.01; ***/ ### P < 0.001; ****/ #### P < 0.0001 using Bonferroni post-hoc analysis; + and # denote significant change in a parameter during the stress period seen with placebo and CBD respectively).
Cold stress test.
Cardiovascular response to cold stress after a single dose (600 mg) of cannabidiol (CBD) in healthy volunteers (n = 9).
The effects of placebo (closed square) and CBD (open square) on systolic blood pressure (SBP) (A), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (B), mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) (C), heart rate (HR) (D), stroke volume (SV) (E), cardiac output (CO) (F), ejection time (EJT) (G), total peripheral resistance (TPR) (H), and forearm blood flow (I), measured continuously just before, during, and after cold pressor test (dotted line denotes stress test period), except for forearm blood flow. Measurements for forearm blood flow were made over a 2-minute window just before, during, and after the stress test. Repeated measures 2-way ANOVA; mean ± SEM (*/ + / # P < 0.05, **/ ++ P < 0.01, ***/ +++ P < 0.001, ****P < 0.0001 using Bonferroni post-hoc analysis; + and # denote significant change in a parameter during the stress period seen with placebo and CBD, respectively).
Looking at the individual response to the cold pressor test, 8 of 9 subjects had a lower SBP during the cold stress and in the recovery period after taking CBD ( Figure 2 ). Six of 9 subjects had a lower DBP during the cold pressor, and 7 of 9 subject had a lower DBP in the recovery period after taking CBD ( Figure 2 ).
Based on preclinical evidence, the aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that CBD would reduce the cardiovascular response to stress in healthy volunteers. We found that resting blood pressure was lower after subjects had taken CBD and that CBD blunted the blood pressure response to stress, particularly in the pre- and poststress periods. Post-hoc analysis showed an overall trend of lower SBP, MAP, DBP, SV, TPR, forearm skin blood flow, and left ventricular EJT and a higher HR in subjects who had taken CBD. These hemodynamic changes should be considered for people taking CBD and suggest that further research is warranted to establish whether CBD has any role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders.
We have shown for the first time that to our knowledge that, in humans, acute administration of CBD reduces resting blood pressure, with a lower stroke volume and a higher heart rate. This response may be secondary to the known anxiolytic properties of CBD (16) and may account for the lack of anticipatory rise in blood pressure seen with placebo. These findings are in contrast to previous studies in humans, where CBD at the same dose did not affect baseline cardiovascular parameters (17–19), although changes in the cardiovascular system were not the primary outcome of these studies. In the present study, CV parameters were measured continuously, while in previous studies, monitoring for SBP, DBP, and HR were performed manually at only 1, 2, or 3 hours after drug delivery. Additionally, our subjects were cannabis naive, while the subjects of other studies had used cannabis in the past. Since tolerance may develop to the hemodynamic response to CBs in humans, this may explain the differences between studies.
THC, the major psychoactive component of cannabis, is known to cause tachycardia and orthostatic hypotension in humans (20), a hemodynamic response similar to that observed to CBD in the present study. THC is a partial agonist at both CB1 and CB2 receptors (21), and the effects of THC on heart rate are mediated through CB1 receptors (20). CBD does not bind with any great affinity to CB1, but it can interact indirectly by augmenting CB1 receptors’ constitutional activity or endocannabinoid tone, the so called indirect agonism (22). We recently showed that CBD also causes endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation in isolated human mesenteric arteries through CB1 activation (11). Therefore, it is possible that the changes in hemodynamics brought about by CBD are mediated through CB1.
CBD may cause sympathoinhibition (through CB1 or some other mechanism), thereby preventing an increase in blood pressure and cardiac output, causing a compensatory rise in heart rate to maintain cardiac output. Indeed, the changes in SBP preceded any changes in HR. Another possibility is that CBD inhibits cardiac vagal tone, thereby increasing heart rate (despite any potential sympathoinhibition). A recent study in male Sprague-Dawley rats showed that GPR18 activation in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) by abnormal CBD (Abn-CBD) resulted in reduced blood pressure and increased heart rate (23) (similar to that observed in the present study). The same study showed that pretreatment with atropine and propranolol fully abrogated the HR response, suggesting a role for the autonomic nervous system. CBD is a weak partial agonist at GPR18 (24).
Effect of CBD on cardiovascular parameters in response to mental stress.
Mental arithmetic has been shown to cause a rise in MAP and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) (25) and vasodilatation in forearm skeletal muscle (26). In our study, none of the cardiovascular parameters other than HR, DBP, and SV were affected, suggesting that the level of stress to this test was minimal. This could be because of the added visual stimulus of a computer screen, which would have helped volunteers perform the task. Overall, there was trend for lower SBP, DBP, MAP, SV, TPR, and forearm skin blood flow in subjects who had taken CBD, particularly in the pre– and post–stress test periods. Like resting cardiovascular parameters, these changes may indicate anxiolytic effects of CBD and/or generalized sympathoinhibition.
Effect of CBD on cardiovascular parameters in response to exercise stress.
Isometric exercise produces a pressor response, via sympathoexcitation, originating in the contracting muscle and relayed to the RVLM via the nucleus of solitary tract. The end result is a rise in heart rate and cardiac output and vasoconstriction in nonexercising organs (27–29). There is increased skeletal muscle blood flow in the nonexercising limb, which is sensitive to atropine and propranolol (30). A similar response was seen in our study, where isometric exercise caused a significant rise in SBP, DBP, MAP, and HR and an increase in forearm blood flow, although this was significant in the placebo group only. Subjects who had taken CBD had reduced blood pressure during the exercise stress test, and this was most pronounced in the pre- and posttest period. Before the exercise stress, HR was higher and SV lower in volunteers when they had taken CBD, and this trend continued throughout exercise stress and in the poststress period. There was also a significant reduction in EJT with CBD, which represents a reciprocal change to increased HR. The rise in cutaneous blood flow was only seen with placebo and not with CBD, possibly suggesting reduced β2 adrenergic–mediated vasodilatation, which could be a result of general sympathoinhibition or a specific effect at the β2 adrenoceptors. The tissue distribution of β2 adrenoceptors and CB1 receptors overlaps in many tissues, including in the cardiovascular system (31). At the cellular level, a complex physical and functional interaction between these 2 receptors has been demonstrated; there is evidence of cointernalization of β2 adrenoceptors with CB1 receptors, leading to desensitisation of β2 adrenoceptors (31).
Effect of CBD on cardiovascular parameters in response to cold stress.
Cold stress causes intense sympathoexcitation, producing a tachycardic and pressor response, and an increase in MSNA (32, 33). The pressor response is due to an initial rise in CO, in response to increased HR and a later increase in MSNA, causing vasoconstriction. Both MAP and TPR show a linear correlation with MSNA during cold stress (34). In our study, cold stress produced a pressor response in both groups, but, interestingly, while SBP and MAP continued to rise with placebo throughout the test period, the pressor response to cold was blunted in subjects who had taken CBD, and SBP and MAP were significantly lower. In keeping with this, TPR was lower with CBD than placebo, suggesting a possible inhibition of sympathetic outflow. This could also be due to analgesic properties of CBD (35), reducing cold stress and therefore minimizing the sympathetic response (also explaining why the cold pressor test was affected more by CBD than the exercise test). In the animal study of Resstel and colleagues (13), the authors suggested that the modulation of cardiovascular response was most likely secondary to attenuation of emotional response to stress. However, given our findings that CBD produced similar changes in cardiovascular parameters — though to a variable degree — during rest and stress, this may indicate that CBD also has direct cardiovascular effects.
Safety and tolerance.
CBD was well tolerated, and there were no adverse events on the day of stress tests. None of the subjects reported any adverse events over the following week.
Our data show that a single dose of CBD reduces resting blood pressure and the blood pressure response to stress, particularly cold stress, and especially in the post-test periods. This may reflect the anxiolytic and analgesic effects of CBD, as well as any potential direct cardiovascular effects. CBD also affected cardiac parameters but without affecting cardiac output. Giving the increasing use of CBD as a medicinal product, these hemodynamic changes should be considered for people taking CBD. Further research is also required to establish whether CBD has any role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders such as a hypertension.
The study was a randomized, crossover design with each subject given CBD (BN: K12067A) or placebo (both gifts from GW Pharmaceuticals) in a capsule in a double-blind fashion, with a minimum time interval of at least 48 hours (range 3–16 days), taking place at the Division of Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, Royal Derby Hospital. Allocation was decided by a coin toss, and block randomization was employed by S.E. O’Sullivan, who assigned participants. K.A. Jadoon carried out all study visits, and data analysis was blinded.
During an initial visit, subjects were familiarized with the stress tests and with noninvasive cardiovascular (CVS) monitoring, and an electrocardiogram (ECG) was done to rule out any preexisting cardiac conditions. Subjects were advised to fast overnight, to avoid beverages containing caffeine or alcohol, and to avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours before each of the 2 study visits. Two hours after CBD/placebo was administered, subjects performed various stress tests (36). Noninvasive cardiovascular monitoring using Finometer and laser Doppler flowmetry was carried out during the 2 hours to assess changes in baseline parameters and during the stress test periods.
Upon arrival, subjects were rested for 10–15 minutes, and their baseline blood pressure and heart rate were recorded using a digital blood pressure (BP) monitor. Participants were given a standardized breakfast, and 15 minutes later, they were given either oral CBD (600 mg) or placebo in a double-blind fashion. This is a dose known to cause anxiolytic effects in humans and is comparable with what is used clinically (19, 37–39). Study medication consisted of capsules containing either 100 mg of CBD or excipients, which were a gift from GW Pharmaceuticals. There was no difference between the 2 formulations in color, taste, or smell.
Two hours afterward, subjects were asked to perform the stress tests (36). Timing of the tests was chosen to coincide with peak plasma levels for CBD (18). All the experiments were performed in a sitting position under ambient temperature conditions. Maximum voluntary contraction for the isometric hand grip test was assessed for each subject prior to administering study medication.
After administration of CBD or placebo, subjects remained seated, either doing nothing, reading, or using a computer. During this time, subjects were connected to a calibrated Finometer (Finapres Medical Systems), which uses a finger-clamp method to detect beat-to-beat changes in digital arterial diameter using an infrared photoplethysmograph (40). The Finometer gives a continuous signal of beat-to-beat changes in blood pressure and blood flow, and it uses this signal to derive other parameters, including systolic, diastolic, and mean blood pressure; interbeat interval; heart rate and left ventricular ejection time; stroke volume; cardiac output; and systemic peripheral resistance. Baseline cardiovascular data was recorded for 2 hours following administration of CBD or placebo. Forearm blood flow was measured using a calibrated laser Doppler flowmeter (Perimed) (41). For each recording, 5 images of microcirculation were taken, over an area 19 mm × 19 mm, using the upper third of the left forearm under high resolution. After 2 hours, subjects underwent the cardiovascular stress tests in the following order: mental arithmetic, isometric exercise, and cold pressor test.
The mental arithmetic test consisted of calculating a sum every 2 second for 2 minutes. Subjects were seated in front of a computer screen, and a PowerPoint presentation delivered a slide with a simple mathematical sum of a 3-digit number minus a smaller number (e.g., 317 – 9, 212 – 11, 185 – 7) every 2 seconds; the subject had to give the answer verbally. In the isometric exercise stress test, using a dynamometer, handgrip was maintained at 30% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) for 2 min. For the cold pressor test, subjects immersed their left foot (up to ankle) in ice slush (temperature 4°C–6°C) for 2 minutes. Cardiovascular parameters were measured continuously using the Finometer, while skin blood flow measurements were taken just before, during, and 5 minutes after each test. Each stress test lasted for 2 minutes, and there was a recovery period of at least 10 minutes.
Data were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA to determine the effect of treatment and time on different variables using GraphPad PRISM version 6.02. Level of significance was set at α = 0.05 and values presented as mean ± SEM. Sidak’s post-hoc test was used to see treatment affect at various time points. Data were not unblinded until after statistical analysis.
Ten healthy young male volunteers, mean age 24 years (range 19–29), with no underlying cardiovascular or metabolic disorders, were recruited for this study, which was approved by the University of Nottingham Faculty of Medicine Ethics Committee (study reference E18102012). Written informed consent was obtained according to the Declaration of Helsinki. Exclusion criteria included any significant cardiovascular or metabolic disorder or use of any medication. All the volunteers were nonsmokers and had taken no prescribed or over-the-counter medication within a week prior to randomization. No volunteers had ever used cannabis.
KAJ helped with study design, researched data, wrote the manuscript, and reviewed/edited the manuscript. GDT reviewed/edited the manuscript. SEO was involved in study design and reviewed/edited the manuscript.
GT is supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre Programme. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health.
Conflict of interest: GW Pharma supplied the cannabidiol (CBD) and placebo but did not fund the study.
Reference information:JCI Insight. 2017;2(11):e93760. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.93760.
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CBD and Heart Rate – August 2022
Studies show that CBD may help improve heart health by regulating heart rate. Heart rate is managed by suppressing heart arrhythmia caused by insufficient blood supply to the heart (5) .
Heart arrhythmia (heart rhythm problems) involves irregular heartbeats resulting from malfunctioning electrical signals (6) . In this case, the heart may be beating irregularly, too fast, or too slow.
Studies demonstrated how CBD may help improve heart health through its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties (7) .
However, it is unclear whether CBD consistently increases or decreases heart rates in particular situations. Further research is needed for the results to be conclusive.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a term generally used for conditions affecting the heart or the blood vessels. Heart diseases include heart infection, coronary artery disease (CAD), irregular function, congenital heart defects, and arrhythmias (8) .
Arrhythmias can cause tachycardia, in which the heart rate goes over 100 beats per minute (9) . The standard range for an adult’s resting heart rate is 60 to 100 beats pe r minute (10) .
The following can lead to a fast heart rate:
- High or low blood pressure
- Excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeinated beverages
- High cholesterol levels
- Stimulant drugs (cocaine or methamphetamine)
- Imbalance of electrolytes
- Medication side effects
Studies show that CBD may help suppress ischemia-induced cardiac arrhythmias (11) .
Ischemia occurs when the blood flow is restricted in the body (12) . Cardiac ischemia is the decreased blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle.
CBD’s anti-apoptotic (preventing cell death), anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties may help with myocardial ischemia and reperfusion (13) .
Myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury caused by tissue damage is the leading cause of death in patients with cardiovascular disease (14) .
The British Journal of Pharmacology published a study suggesting CBD may help suppress irregular heartbeat caused by ischemia-induced heart arrhythmias (15) .
Another study on rats found that CBD may help stabilize irregular heartbeats (16) . This result among animal studies was due to the effects of CBD in the bloodstream.
Results of studies conducted on animals may be useful in further human studies on CBD use for heart rate.
How CBD Works to Help With Heart Disease Symptoms
After entering the body, CBD interacts with its endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS helps maintain balance in the body’s functions, including ones in the immune, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems (17) .
Endocannabinoids bind with cannabinoid receptors throughout the human body and send signals for particular actions to occur.
CBD is a phytocannabinoid (plant-based cannabinoid) that binds with receptors after the body receives the chemical compound.
Studies suggest CBD has antioxidant, inflammatory, and analgesic properties (18) that may help reduce the symptoms of heart conditions (19) .
The Effects of CBD on Heart Rate
A 2017 study led by Hermant Goval noted the presence of endocannabinoids in heart tissues (20) . The ECS may also be connected to heart rate regulation (21) .
CBD may thus help normalize the heart rate through its interaction with the ECS.
CBD vs. Stressful and Non-Stressful Conditions
A 2009 study showed that CBD may help lower the blood pressure of rats under stress (21) .
The study’s animal subjects underwent stressful conditions, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure. Both factors decreased after the animals received a single dose of CBD (22) .
Another study included a clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that showed CBD may help reduce blood pressure in healthy men (23) . However, the subjects’ heart rates increased compared to the placebo group.
A 2011 study provided participants a large dose of CBD or a placebo before a public-speaking event (24) . The researchers reported that the CBD group experienced lower heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety levels.
The mixed results from CBD used in stressful and non-stressful situations may be related to the autonomic arousal or “fight or flight” response. Research shows that CBD may function as an anxiety reliever (25) .
However, researchers disagree on whether the beneficial effects of cannabidiol include lower heart rates during non-stressful conditions. More research is necessitated to determine whether CBD use in humans can lead to similar results.
CBD and THC: Different Cannabinoids with Different Effects
CBD and THC are both derivatives of cannabis plants. However, the two cannabinoids may produce opposite effects in terms of acute cardiovascular function.
CBD is a non-psychoactive component abundant in hemp and thus does not produce mind-altering effects like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (26) .
Studies indicate CBD can lower heart rate (27) . Meanwhile, studies like a randomized crossover study show that THC may increase heart rate and blood pressure (28) .
The differing effects of THC and CBD on the central nervous system (CNS) are connected to their differing properties.
High-THC cannabis use may be connected to psychosis, according to a 2014 study on the effects of cannabis published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry (29) .
While the psychosis symptoms of marijuana use include anxiety, researchers have examined CBD’s possible method of reducing the symptoms of anxiety disorders (30) .
CBD may also provide therapeutic benefits when combined with THC. A 2019 study in the Journal of Neuroscience noted that CBD seemed to block THC’s psychiatric side effects (31) .
The CBD Heart Rate Experiment
When experimenting on CBD’s effects on subjects’ heart rates, various types of heart rates are measured. The following informal experiments examine the effects of CBD products in different conditions.
Heart rates increase or decrease in particular situations, such as after exercise, and decrease in other situations, such as resting (32) .
Due to heart rate fluctuations, it is advisable to conduct the tests over multiple days and calculate the average.
Test 1: Resting Heart Rate
This test is the simplest one conducted. It involves measuring a subject’s resting heart rate. After the subject takes a dose of CBD oil, their heart rate is compared with the original measurements.
Test 2: Heart Rate While Exercising
This type of heart rate measurement requires a subject to measure heart rates after physical exercises, such as walking on a treadmill.
The heart rate is measured after a workout session. It is measured again after taking CBD and repeating the exercise session.
Test 3: Heart Rate After Sauna
Sauna baths may cause high blood pressure and increase heart rate (33) . This test examines whether CBD causes the heart rate to return to normal more expediently following a sauna session.
Does CBD Interact with Heart Medications?
CBD is generally safe. However, the compound may cause side effects, such as nausea, drowsiness, diarrhea, and dry mouth (34) .
Combining CBD with medications having similar side effects may increase the risk of unwanted symptoms or toxicity.
Potential drug interactions with CBD include warfarin, a blood thinner, and amiodarone, a heart rhythm medication (35) .
Meanwhile, taking CBD with certain heartburn drugs (such as Prilosec) may increase the risk of diarrhea.
Individuals taking prescription medication for a heart condition should consult their doctor before taking CBD.
Heart disease risks include heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, cardiac arrest, and aneurysm (36) . Treatments include prescription medicines and surgery.
Pharmaceuticals available for treating heart disease include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics (water pills), and channel blockers (37) .
A 2013 study examined the use of prescription medicines for the long-term treatment of CAD (38) .
The pharmaceuticals demonstrated positive effects, lowering the risk of complications and r elieving cardiomyopathy symptoms (39) . Cardiomyopathy results when the heart cannot efficiently pump blood to the body.
The same study also showed that various CAD medications may have risk factors and produce side effects, including easy bruising, dizziness, and exhaustion (40) .
Individuals should consult with their physicians before using CBD products for heart conditions.
How to Use CBD Oil for Heart Rate
CBD forms include oils, tinctures, capsules, creams, and gummies. Taking CBD under the tongue sublingually makes it easy to ingest it (41) .
Vaping offers faster bioavailability than other CBD forms such as topicals and edibles (42) . Bioavailability involves the rate and extent to which an active drug ingredient is absorbed and becomes available ( 43) .
A single dose of cannabidiol through vaping may pose risks comparable to smoking (44) .
Categories of the best CBD products include:
CBD Isolates : A form of pure CBD
Full-Spectrum CBD : Multiple cannabis plant extracts and up to 0.3% of THC.
Broad-Spectrum CBD : A wide range of natural chemical compounds from the cannabis plant but usually no THC.
Features to consider when selecting CBD products consider locally-grown hemp, non-genetically modified organisms (GMO), and third-party lab testing.
The USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate over-the-counter (OTC) CBD.
Generally, for heart rate issues, oral CBD products are generally practical to use. Topical products including creams, and balms, and salves focus more on skin conditions.
Meanwhile, CBD consumers are advised to use CBD vapes with caution. Vaping may pose risks to cardiovascular health ( 45) .
1. Does CBD increase heart rate?
A 2013 study review showed mixed results regarding CBD’s impact on humans’ and animals’ heart rates (46) .
2. Which CBD products has the FDA approved?
The FDA has officially approved the drug Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of CBD for treating seizures among people with tuberous sclerosis complex (47) . Seizures can result from health conditions such as epilepsy.
The heart is among the vital organs of the cardiovascular system. Impaired cardiovascular health may affect the entire body.
Other medical conditions associated with heart diseases include:
- Hypertension (48)
- Isolated systolic blood pressure (49)
- Drastically lower blood pressure (50)
- Heart palpitations (51)
- Blocked blood vessels (52)
Heart disease is the United State’s leading cause of death (53) and may lead to heart attacks or strokes.
The health benefits of CBD are noted in several studies. Links to the studies are identified using a digital object identifier (DOI), making them accessible to readers on the internet.
Still, it is ideal to consult with a cardiologist before using any CBD product.
Does CBD Affect Heart Rate? We Review the Science and Conduct Our Own Experiments to Find Out
It’s well known that THC increases heart rate and blood pressure, and that this is likely related to THC’s anxiety and psychosis-inducing effect. But what about CBD, THC’s cannabinoid cousin? CBD has an opposite effect on anxiety, psychosis, and brain function as THC: it reduces anxiety, strengthens brain connections, and reduces symptoms of psychosis.
Could it reduce heart rate as well?
There are several studies that explore CBD’s effect on heart rate, and we go over them thoroughly in this article. But we decided that wasn’t enough, and we put the science to the test on our favorite guinea pigs (us).
I tested CBD’s effect on my resting heart rate, my heart rate after cardio, and my heart rate after a (particularly extreme) sauna session. Keep reading to find out the results.
Does CBD affect heart rate?
Yes, CBD may reduce heart rate under stressful conditions, but the evidence is mixed on whether CBD has any effect on heart rate in non-stressful conditions.
What the science says
Here’s a review of all the major studies conducted on CBD and heart rate:
- In one 2009 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology , rats were subjected to stressful conditions that increased their blood pressure and heart rate. After being given a dose of CBD, their heart rate and blood pressure decreased.
- In this 2017 randomized, double-blind, placed controlled clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ,CBD was found to reduce blood pressure in healthy male participants but increase heart rate compared to the placebo group.
- In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology , participants were given either a large dose of CBD prior to a public speaking event or a placebo. The researchers reported lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels for the CBD group.
So, the two studies which applied CBD in stressful conditions (one in rats and one in humans) both found reduced blood pressure and heart rate, but the study which applied CBD in non-stressful situations found only a reduction in blood pressure and an increase in heart rate.
Does CBD only affect heart rate in stressful conditions?
This suggests that CBD may only reduce heart rate if heart rate has otherwise been increased by stressful conditions. This makes sense because increased heart rate and blood pressure is a result of autonomic arousal, aka the “fight or flight” response that is activated upon stress. Autonomic arousal is also the mechanism behind anxiety and panic attacks, and CBD is well-known as an effective anxiety reliever: one 2019 study in The Permanente Journa l and another in the Journal of Neurotherapeutics both found that CBD reduced anxiety.
So, CBD anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects are likely related to its potential ability to reduce heart rate.
CBD and THC: two very different cannabinoids
It’s important to note that, while CBD and THC are both derivatives of cannabis, when it comes to acute cardiovascular function they appear to have opposite effects: THC increases autonomic arousal, whereas CBD reduces it; CBD may reduce heart rate, but THC is known to increase heart rate.
This key difference in the two cannabinoids — in how they affect the nervous system — explains why one, THC, is associated with increased anxiety and psychosis, while the other, CBD, is associated with the opposite.
The difference also provides further reason to believe that CBD and THC may function best in combination, especially given the substantial evidence indicating that CBD may reduce negative side-effects of THC (including on brain function). For instance, in this September 2019 study just conducted by the University of Western Ontario , they found that CBD blocked the psychiatric side-effects of THC. PhD candidate and head researcher Roger Hudson explained that “ CBD was also able to reverse the anxiety-like behaviour and addictive-like behaviour caused by the THC.”
What about CBD’s overall effect on the cardiovascular system?
As with CBD’s effect on heart rate, this is a very open question. Bottom line is: we don’t know, because little research has been done on CBD’s effect on the cardiovascular system.
Large studies on marijuana use and cardiovascular function have found little definitive evidence of a positive or negative effect, and since CBD has much less of an impact on the cardiovascular system than THC it’s reasonable to assume that CBD has minimal impact on cardiovascular health overall.
But there’s more to it than that, and two recent studies have indicated that CBD may in fact have a positive effect on cardiovascular health.
Two studies: CBD reduces heart inflammation
In this 2013 review of several studies published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology , CBD was found to positively influence white blood cell survival and migration related to heart disease. The researchers concluded that “ A common theme throughout these studies is the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect of CBD. In the heart, in vivo CBD treatment protects against ischaemia-reperfusion damage and against cardiomyopathy associated with diabetes.”
The second 2016 study published in the Journal of Molecular Medicine CBD reduced markers of inflammation in individuals with autoimmune myocarditis, a condition which causes inflammation of the heart.
So, while it’s far too early to determine how exactly CBD influences cardiovascular function, there is promising evidence that CBD’s known anti-inflammatory properties apply to the heart as well, and that CBD can potentially reduce heart-related inflammation.
The CBD heart rate experiment
So, there’s the hard science on how CBD affects heart rate. Now, for the fun part: I put it to the test. To measure my heart rate I used a FitBit, and for each test I took 40 mg of NuLeaf Naturals organic full-spectrum CBD oil.
Given that the science indicates different results in different conditions, we tested CBD’s effect on my heart rate in three different conditions: resting, during exercise, and after a sauna session.
Test 1: Resting heart rate
This is the simplest test we conducted: each day over a period of three days, at the same time (2:00 PM) each day, we measured my heart rate without CBD, and then I took a 40mg dose of NuLeaf Naturals organic full-spectrum CBD oil, we waited 30 minutes, and we measured my heart rate again. We then took the average of all three measurements. Here are the results:
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Average|
As you can see, I did experience a modest reduction in heart rate after taking the CBD, though the reduction wasn’t consistent and it wasn’t outside the normal variation in my heart rate.
Test 2: Heart rate while exercising
For this test, I ran for 20 minutes on a treadmill at a constant rate (5mph), got off the treadmill and measured my heart rate, then took a dose of CBD, waited 30 minutes, got back on the treadmill at the same rate for the same time (20 mins) and measured my heart rate again. As with the first test, we did this three times over three days and took the average of all three.
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Average|
Again, we found a relatively small reduction in heart rate, though this reduction was consistent across all three days.
Test 3: Heart rate after sauna
This test was a bit more complicated. I’m a regular sauna user, and fewer things jack your heart rate up more than the sauna. I was curious if CBD would have any effect on how quickly my heart rate returned to normal after a sauna session.
Here’s the test: I did a 20 minute sauna session at 200 degrees (brutal) without CBD then measured my heart rate immediately after getting out, and then again every three minutes to determine how long it returned to normal. The next day I repeated the same process but with CBD.
|Immediately after sauna||3 minutes after sauna||6 minutes after||9 minutes after||12 minutes after|
The results for this one are interesting: my heart rate was higher immediately after getting out with CBD, but fell faster with the CBD and reached a lower point 9 minutes after.
None of the results of my experiments were SUPER eye-catching, but as you can see from the charts I did experience a modest but noticeable reduction in heart rate after taking CBD across all three experiments. However, these tests also were all under non-stressful conditions: even the ones involving cardio and sauna ultimately aren’t a great test of the “fight or flight” response. The increased heart rate and blood pressure during physical activity is a physical adaptation that’s different from the increase you’d see with anxiety.
A better test, and one that I will try to conjure up over the next few weeks, is testing my heart rate under anxiety-inducing conditions, and then testing with CBD under the same conditions to see if there’s any difference. Stay tuned, folks!
FAQ on CBD and Heart Rate
Does CBD affect heart rate medication?
Actually, CBD is metabolized by the same liver enzymes as 60% of medications on the market, so it can block these enzymes and allow more of the medication into your system. If you are on any medications, including heart rate medication, discuss CBD with your doctor before using.
Does CBD increase your heart rate?
One study we reviewed did record an increase in heart rate after consumption of CBD (though the blood pressure of the participants was lowered). However, other studies (and our own experiments) indicate that CBD is more likely to decrease heart rate.
Does vaping CBD increase heart rate?
Vaping CBD does allow you to consume more concentrated doses of CBD, which may have more of an affect on heart rate than other methods. But the evidence indicates that even at more potent doses CBD is more likely to decrease than increase your heart rate.