Cannabis and Hypertension: What We Know and What We Don’t

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Cannabis isn’t likely to cause hypertension (high blood pressure). But, if you have a history of hypertension, you may want to understand the correlation between using cannabis and fluctuating blood pressure.

When you inhale any smoke, it will be processed by your lungs quickly into your blood system. Any narrowing of the blood vessels connecting lungs and heart will increase the blood pressure and risk heart attach or stroke.

  • A 2017 Georgia State University study of 1,000+ cannabis smokers over 20 years concluded, “the risk of death due to hypertension was triple for those who used marijuana as compared to those who did not, with an increased risk for each year of marijuana use.”
  • A study published a year later by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found “’insufficient evidence’ to support or refute the idea that cannabis might increase the overall risk of a heart attack, though it also found some limited evidence that using the drug could be a trigger for the phenomenon.”
  • And, a 2011 experiment reported in the Journal of Addictive Medicine concluded, “Blood pressure increased significantly during periods of cannabis abstinence compared with periods of cannabis use.”

Given various limitations to the Georgia State University testing, we don’t know anything for sure.

Causes of hypertension

Primary Hypertension has no known cause and develops over the years. Secondary Hypertension arises from some underlying condition. It appears suddenly and causes higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension.

Those underlying conditions include obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes, kidney problems, adrenal gland tumors, thyroid problems, certain medications, and drugs like cocaine or amphetamines.

Risk factors (Mayo Clinic) start with congenital defects in the blood vessels. In fact, hypertension tends to run in families. Men may develop high blood pressure before 64, and women are more likely to develop it after 65.

  • High blood pressure is a burden among people of African heritage with higher incidence and serious complications like stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.
  • Obesity demands more blood throughout bodily systems to supply oxygen and nutrients to tissues. The pressure on the artery walls increases as the volume of blood increases. It’s also true that inactive people have higher heart rates.
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco raise your blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco also damage the lining of the artery walls causing the arteries to narrow and increase the risk of heart disease. This is also true of drinking too much alcohol.
  • Poor diet, high in salt and low in potassium will contribute to hypertension.

Finally, high levels of stress on a chronic basis can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure.

Hypertension is routinely treated with medications, exercise, diet, and weight loss. And, any combination of the factors listed can exacerbate the condition.

The common-sense of moderation

A best remedy lies in moderation in all things. The brain and body prefer stability and consistency. And, its complicated systems rebel at sudden change, toxic antagonists, and constant stress.

So, if you are to introduce cannabis into those systems, you must do so with deliberation and discipline. Because hypertension can lead to ischemic strokes, it is not something to fool with. If high-blood pressure is chronic and/or there is a negative family history with hypertension, you must watch your habits. And, although cannabis may be preferable to pharmaceuticals with bad side-effects, you must know what to expect from different cannabis strains.

Here’s five strains favored by people with hypertension:

1. Blue Dream has had a big impact on the cannabis market partly because of its sweet aromas and taste. Its high THC content makes it a popular recreational choice. But, its medicinal value has increased its broad appeal.

Blue Dream is a balanced Sativa-dominant hybrid (60: 40) with THC at 17-24% for a potent experience. But, it also offers 2% CBD to calm anxiety and stress. The quick-hitting euphoric cerebral high is followed by a warmed, numb, mellow body high. The combination treats chronic stress, chronic pain, mild depression, and sleeping disorders.

2. Green Crack (Green Cush) elevates and heals. This sativa-dominant hybrid (65: 35) tests at 15-25% THC.

Its energetic high lets you focus on work while also relieving pain, stress, and depression. It is favored among those treating for PTSD.

3. Purple Kush is 100% Indica testing at 22% THC. That makes this award-winner one of the most potent strains on the market. Effects start quickly with a cerebral euphoria followed by warm numbing body sedation.

Coming down, you’ll fall into a long deep sleep. Patients seek Purple Kush for treating chronic pain, nerve damage, muscle spasms, sleep apnea, and more.

4. Sour Diesel drives an uplifting head high. This Sativa-dominant hybrid (90: 10) has an unprecedented 26% THC and 2% CBD. The high helps you pass worries and fears, but it does not slow you down.

You’ll feel relieved, stress-free, and ready to work through the day. And, users like it for ADD, ADHD, PTSD, and bipolar disorders.

5. Northern Lights is pure Indica with THC levels between 16-21% that combines head high and body relaxation. The mixed effects make it a popular option for anxiety, insomnia, and pain.

Northern Lights’ psychoactive effects envelop the body and muscles in a euphoric dream. It relieves pain and insomnia as well as stress and depression.

Cannabis and hypertension: a conclusion

If high blood pressure is more than an occasional issue for you, you must see a physician. You should follow the doctor’s advice and discuss your use of cannabis.

If stress-relief improves your blood-pressure, cannabis has proven stress-relieving properties. But, some strains can increase anxiety, paranoia, and sleeplessness.

The research jury is out on how cannabis affects blood flow and blood vessel walls. So, you must keep use moderate to low if you have a known condition.

Finally, there are many alternatives to smoking cannabis. Candies, edibles, drinks, transdermal patches, and more produce positive effects, more personal control, and a more discrete way of consuming during the day.