High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common affliction among American adults. It is reported that nearly 33% of all U.S. adults over the age of twenty suffer from hypertension. And that number increases to 66% for all adults over the age of sixty-five. Needless to say, America has a blood pressure crisis on its hands. While a great deal of research has been conducted in the name of hypertension, there is still a burning question among the medical marijuana community: does marijuana lower blood pressure?
Hypertension is a condition in which blood travels too forcefully against the artery wall. When gone untreated, hypertension can lead to serious health complications like heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and aneurysm. High blood pressure often runs in families and can reach beyond obvious factors like obesity and substance abuse. The highest at-risk groups include excessive drinkers, smokers, those with inactive lifestyles, and those with high salt diets.
DOES CANNABIS LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE?
It’s complicated. First and foremost, a lack of research in this area of medical exploration greatly limits the findings that can be held as conclusive evidence. What we do know is that marijuana has a complicated relationship with blood pressure. When one smokes or ingests cannabis, there is an immediate spike in blood pressure. This can last up to five hours. During this time, the risk for cardiovascular complications, like heart attack, increases by 5x. Scary, right? Not really. The spike in blood pressure is only an issue for users with pre-existing heart conditions. And even then, a complication is rare.
TOLERANCE AND BLOOD PRESSURE
Though a proven correlation does not exist, many people believe that repeated use of cannabis can reduce, even eliminate, hypertension. It’s true that smoking/ingesting weed leads to a spike in blood pressure, but it is also true that this spike decreases over time. Once a user has developed a tolerance, the spike will die off. This suggests that there are positive long-term effects to using marijuana to regulate blood pressure. Future research will determine the longevity of these effects, and whether or not they truly work to control hypertension.
INDICA OR SATIVA FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
Cannabis has two main types: Indica and Sativa. Each type and its various strains offer different benefits to the user. Indica cannabis generally has a higher CBD count and is used to combat acute pain and nausea. It is also used to induce muscle relaxation and increase appetite. Sativa, on the other hand, acts more as a stimulant. It has a higher THC count and is used to treat anxiety and depression, among other things. For the purpose of hypertension, the Indica strains are more sensible. The relaxation component of the Indica strains may lower blood pressure in the user.
SIDE-EFFECTS: THE MATCH THAT LIGHTS THE FIRE
There are side-effects to using marijuana—the severity of which can range from person to person. Two of the more common side effects include obsessive eating and sedentary living—both of which can lead to hypertension. So, while cannabis may be used to control blood pressure, it has also been known to increase participation in the very activities that cause hypertension. It’s an interesting cycle that will need to play out over time and through research.
THE FUTURE OF CANNABIS
Whether or not marijuana can be used to fight hypertension remains to be seen. Only research and clinical testing will prove the legitimacy of the theory. For now, we can only rely on what we can observe. If you are using cannabis to manage your hypertension, remember to also consult the professional advice of a medical practitioner. Without conclusive evidence, you cannot rely solely on marijuana to eradicate your high blood pressure.
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