What Is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease that occurs when there is plaque formation in the arteries. At birth, arteries are smooth, but as a person ages, the arteries become stiff, and plaques accumulate and thicken the wall resulting in inflammation of these walls (1).  Plaques are made of fatty material such as cholesterol, calcium, and inflammatory debris.

Narrowing of the arteries from plaques is the primary source of heart attack and stroke in Western countries(2,3). However, it could occur in the artery anywhere in the body, such as the legs, and kidneys, and not just in the heart.

The symptoms of atherosclerosis may vary depending on the location. Chest pain is common if the narrowing is located in the heart, leg or arm pains if it is the extremities, high blood pressure and kidney disease if it is in the kidney, and symptoms of a stroke like numbness, dizziness, and speech difficulty if it is in the brain(3)

CBD oil has the potential to treat inflammatory disease. Primarily situated on the cells of the immune system, the CB2 receptor is the peripheral receptor for cannabinoids(4)

When the CB2 receptor is triggered, it stimulates a response that fights inflammation. This anti-inflammatory response has been found to be useful for treating inflammation-related conditions(5). And these may provide therapeutic benefits for atherosclerosis patients, too. 

How does CBD Oil work in the Arteries? 

CBD supports the endocannabinoid system (ECS) of the body, which is the leading player in the regulation of homeostasis. The ECS consists of cannabinoid receptors (e.g., CB1R, CB2R) and the endogenous ligands that bind to these cannabinoid receptors such as anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), The ECS also has enzymes for their biosynthesis and degradation(6)

In vivo and in vitro studies on cannabinoid compounds have been studied through the years. The phytocannabinoids and endogenous cannabinoids (also known as endocannabinoids) cause vasodilation, which means these compounds can relax the wall of the blood vessels(7)

The immunomodulating effect of THC lessens the progression of atherosclerosis. Studies suggest that the use of CBDs help decrease disease progression in mice(8)

CBD Dosage and Supplementation

The exact amount of CBDs dosage is not well established yet. Based on the anecdotal evidence, the recommendation for the CBD dosage may depend on the person’s weight. One to six milligrams per kilogram of body weight(9)

Taking CBD should be gradual and in progression. Start with a small amount and increase it gradually to medium or high dose to see how it affects the person. 

Since atherosclerosis, as a chronic disease, is progressive, its prevention needs to continue for years to be effective. 

Moreover, CBD is effective in decreasing myocardial dysfunction, cardiac fibrosis, and cell death. During a heart attack, immediate administration of CBD may be useful in reducing the severity of the damage to the heart, according to a study in mice(10)

Conclusion

Atherosclerosis, as a disease in progression, remains a challenge. There are no known standard medications and treatments, and these may vary from one person to another. 

Cannabinoid therapies may help decrease inflammation. As an inflammatory disease of the artery, it is a welcoming note that cannabinoid therapies may reduce the progression of atherosclerosis and its underlying comorbid conditions, such as diabetes and obesity(11)

However, more research is needed to understand CBD’s impact on atherosclerosis and other circulatory conditions in humans. This is also true regarding the dosage and therapeutic use of CBD and its side-effects.

Whenever taking or using CBD products as supplementations, advice from an expert is a must. Consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis for more medical advice. 


  1. Singla, S., Sachdeva, R. and Mehta, J.L. (2012), Cannabinoids and Atherosclerotic Coronary Heart Disease. Clin Cardiol, 35: 329-335. doi:10.1002/clc.21962
  2. Steffens, S., Veillard, N., Arnaud, C. et al. Low dose oral cannabinoid therapy reduces progression of atherosclerosis in mice. Nature 434, 782–786 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03389
  3. Libby, P., Ridker, P., and Maseri, A. (2002), Inflammation and Atherosclerosis. https://doi.org/10.1161/hc0902.104353
  4. Turcotte C, Blanchet MR, Laviolette M, Flamand N. The CB2 receptor and its role as a regulator of inflammation. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2016;73(23):4449–4470. doi:10.1007/s00018-016-2300-4. 
  5. Ibid. 
  6. SvíŽenská I, Dubový P, Šulcová A. Cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2), their distribution, ligands and functional involvement in nervous system structures–a short review. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. (2008) 90:501–11. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2008.05.010
  7. Chye, Y., Christensen, E., Solowij, N., & Yücel, M. (2019). The Endocannabinoid System and Cannabidiol’s Promise for the Treatment of Substance Use Disorder. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 63. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00063
  8. Stanley, C. P., Hind, W. H., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2013). Is the cardiovascular system a therapeutic target for cannabidiol?. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 75(2), 313–322. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04351.x
  9. Steffens, S., Veillard, N., Arnaud, C. et al. op. cit.
  10. Rajesh, M., Mukhopadhyay,P., Bátkai, S., Haskó,G., Liaudet, L., Drel, V., Obrosova, P., and Pacher, P. (2007). Cannabidiol attenuates high glucose-induced endothelial cell inflammatory response and barrier disruption. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpheart.00236.2007\
  11. Eugene L. Schar, (2017). Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2017.0033
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