Can CBD Work for Heart Disease?

  • Heart disease is a type of cardiovascular disease (CVD) that refers to any disorder involving the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack(1).
  • CBD has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects that may address heart problems(2).
  • In a study conducted on rats, CBD reduced the myocardial infarct size, or the damage caused by heart attack, several days after the occurrence(3). An infarction is literally the destruction of cardiac tissue by decreased blood flow – commonly called a heart attack.
  • CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties attenuate oxidative stress caused by excess free radicals(4). CBD blocks the development of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and activates receptors that elicit an anti-inflammatory response.
  • Some heart disease medications may have harmful side effects, such as bleeding, gangrene of the skin, and rashes(5). CBD’s side effects include nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and reduced appetite(6).

Why People Are Using CBD for Heart Disease

Heart disease is a type of cardiovascular disease (CVD) that refers to any disorder involving the heart. This condition involves deformities, defects, and irregular functions of the organ. 

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disorder. Coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease is when a plaque builds up in the arteries and blocks the blood flow.

A plaque is a combination of substances found in the blood. The clogging of the arteries from chronic inflammation is also called atherosclerosis. 

Other types of heart problems include congenital heart disease, arrhythmia, dilated cardiomyopathy, heart valve disease, and heart failure

In general, these heart conditions are treated with medications and surgery. Common medications include statins, anticoagulants, beta-blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). 

Although some of these medications are essential to reduce the risk of stroke and mortality rate of heart diseases, some people discontinue their medications to avoid their side effects(7)

Side effects include muscle spasms and pain, cognitive impairment, hot flashes, and indigestion. 

Some patients are prescribed multiple medications for heart problems. A study focused on this trend and the effects of long-term use of these drugs on older patients(8)

Results showed that using these drugs may lead to gastrointestinal bleeding, muscle damage, and hypoglycemia.

Cannabidiol or CBD is the major nonpsychoactive component of hemp, a variety of cannabis plants

CBD has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects that may improve heart health(9). It also has a better safety profile compared to most medications(10).

In a study conducted on rats, CBD reduced the myocardial infarct size, or the damage caused by heart attack, several days after the occurrence(11)

The results of this animal study may be useful to researchers who want to further explore CBD’s effects on the human body. 

Oxidative stress may also be a risk factor for developing heart conditions(12). It is classified as the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. 

Free radicals are unpaired molecules that can damage cells and cause illness. Antioxidants are the molecules that protect the cells from damage.

When free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) enter the heart, oxidative stress occurs, which then causes heart problems, like heart failure(13).  

CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may help attenuate oxidative stress brought by excess free radicals(14). The compound blocks the development of the ROS and activates receptors that elicit an anti-inflammatory response.

This reaction from CBD may serve as a protection mechanism for the heart from oxidative stress.

How CBD Oil Works to Help Alleviate Symptoms of Heart Disease

When CBD enters the body, it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is essential in maintaining the body’s homeostasis, including functions of the brain, endocrine, and the immune system(15).

The ECS functions through the interaction among endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes.

The endocannabinoids serve as the communication device of the ECS with the other systems of the body. 

The endocannabinoids bind with the receptors located throughout the body and signal for a specific action to happen. The cannabinoids are then broken down by enzymes.

CBD is a phytocannabinoid that binds with receptors when administered into the body. It carries out analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties to alleviate the symptoms of heart disease(16).

CBD for Inflammation

Myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart muscle. This heart condition causes cell death in the heart, making it lose its ability to pump blood. This complication can lead to heart failure or death.

CBD may help improve the heart’s condition caused by autoimmune myocarditis, as shown in a study conducted on mice(17). The compound also inhibited fibrosis and inflammation of the heart.

Autoimmune myocarditis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by an inflamed heart muscle. Its causes are unknown. However, it may be linked to an occurrence where the immune system mistakenly attacks the heart muscle(18).

Fibrosis is defined as scarring in the heart caused by heart attacks and heart failures(19).

Other health conditions may also cause heart problems. In a study conducted on mice with induced diabetes, CBD hindered heart inflammation(20). Diabetes is a risk factor for CVD(21)

CBD for Blood Pressure

Hypertension caused by high cholesterol levels may increase the risk of heart disease. As cholesterol levels increase, lipids may build up in the arteries, causing atherosclerosis. 

CBD may hamper atherosclerosis progression by blocking the formation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is the bad cholesterol that blocks the arteries(22)

CBD may act as a vasodilator that widens the blood vessels and allows more blood to flow. The widening reduces the damage to the arterial walls caused by high blood pressure(23).

CBD for Arrhythmia 

Arrhythmia is the irregular rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. It can mean that the heart rate is either too quick (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregular (atrial fibrillation). Changes in the heart tissue cause changes in the heartbeat. 

A study on rats concluded that CBD helped with irregular heartbeats due to myocardial infarction(24). The antiarrhythmic effect was mediated by the reaction of the compound in the blood. 

Myocardial infarction or heart attack occurs when blood flow slows down or stops because of coronary artery blockage.

The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Heart Disease

The Pros

  • CBD has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects that may help improve heart health and address heart problems with inflammatory etiologies. 
  • CBD may be a potential treatment for symptoms of heart diseases, as stated in the supporting studies above.
  • Medicinal CBD is legal in most states and territories in the US. CBD products may be bought in these states even without a prescription from a doctor.

The Cons

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not endorse CBD as a treatment for heart problems.
  • Possible side effects of CBD include nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and reduced appetite(25).
  • Most heart disease-related studies done on CBD have been conducted on animals without guaranteed effects on humans(26).

How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Heart Disease

Most heart diseases can be prevented with a healthy diet, lifestyle changes, and dietary supplements.

Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) used for cardiac conditions are medicinal herbs, spiritual and mind-body therapies, physical therapies, and other alternatives(27).

Herbs and supplements, like omega-3 fatty acids, Ginkgo biloba, garlic, and CoQ10, are often taken alongside prescribed medications to aid in heart conditions. 

Antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins C and E, are also alternative supplements that may combat oxidative stress contributing to atherosclerosis.

Therapies, like chelation, biofeedback, meditation, and massages, may increase blood flow and reduce the stress of people with heart diseases.

However, these treatment options may cause severe effects due to herb-drug interactions, delaying essential treatments needed for cardiac diseases.

People with heart problems should consult a physician or see a cardiologist first to know about the safe use of herbs and supplements.

CBD may be used as an add-on therapy for individuals who are considering to implement lifestyle changes or shift to a healthy diet. 

However, unlike herbs and supplements, it may not be safe to combine CBD with medications for heart diseases.

CBD may have possible drug interactions with conventional heart disease medications. Certain cardiovascular drugs are metabolized by the enzyme system cytochrome P450(28).

A 2016 study revealed that CBD might be the most potent inhibitor of several enzymes under the cytochrome P450 family(29). This inhibition may have an effect on the efficacy of cardiovascular medications on individuals who take them. 

Patients who are taking supplements, such as Ginkgo biloba, are also not recommended to use these medications in combination with CBD.

A 2014 study reported that Ginkgo biloba might be metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes(30). For this reason, CBD may inhibit the enzyme activity and affect the efficacy of the herbal supplement.

How to Choose the Right CBD Oil for Heart Disease

Vasorelaxation is the attenuation of tension in the blood vessel walls. 

Natural products with vasorelaxant properties are known to have positive effects on cardiovascular conditions(31).

A study conducted on rabbits has shown that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) might have vasorelaxant effects(32).

However, THC may cause a high in users because it is the psychoactive compound of the Cannabis sativa plant.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain THC, but only trace amounts, as permitted by federal laws. 

In full-spectrum CBD products, the THC content is not enough to get users high, but may be detected by some drug tests.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain all the cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant, including THC. It is suggested that these active ingredients work in synergy to give maximum therapeutic benefits to the user. This mechanism is known as the entourage effect.

Full-spectrum CBD oil products are usually more preferred than other CBD types, such as broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolates.

CBD isolates contain pure CBD derived from the hemp plant. They have a 99% concentration of the compound.

The broad-spectrum type contains CBD and other compounds found in cannabis plants but without THC.

Consult with a doctor before using CBD is recommended since full-spectrum CBD products contain traces of THC that may evoke psychoactive effects.

CBD Dosage for Heart Disease

There is no approved dosage for CBD. Nonetheless, studies have shown that there are no severe side effects up to 1500 mg of CBD per day(33). CBD oil is well-tolerated even if taken in high doses.

It is strongly advised to take a small dose of CBD for initial administration. Slowly increase the dose until desired results are reached. 

How to Take CBD Oil for Heart Disease

CBD can be taken in the following formulations: oils, tinctures, gummies, vapes, and creams.

CBD oils, tinctures, and gummies are recommended for ingestion. These products work with the digestive system so that the compound is easily absorbed. 

Tinctures can also be administered sublingually (under the tongue) for direct absorption into the blood.

CBD vapes are available for those who want to experience the quick effects of CBD.

A 2018 study has shown that CBD when inhaled has 31% bioavailability(34).  

Bioavailability is the rate at which a drug is absorbed into the body.

Heart disease patients should take caution when vaping as it may have detrimental effects on their ailments(35)

Other CBD formats include topicals, such as salves, balms, and creams. However, these formulations which target the skin may not be as effective in treating cardiovascular diseases.

Heart Disease vs. Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease refers to conditions directly affecting the heart. It may also include diseases of the blood vessels, congenital (present at birth) heart ailments, and heart rhythm problems(36).

Meanwhile, cardiovascular diseases refer to ailments that involve the narrowing or blockage of blood vessels, which may result in chest pain (angina), stroke, or heart attacks. 

Different Types and Causes of Heart Diseases

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease is a general term for congenital disabilities of the heart that may affect how it functions. The causes of this condition are still unknown. However, the risks may increase because of genes and chromosome changes or a combination of both. 

The mother’s as diet, medications, and preexisting health problems may also impact a baby’s condition. 

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. The heart’s pumping chambers (the left ventricle) dilates, causing reduced pumps. 

The enlargement of the left ventricle may be caused by cancer medications, substance use and abuse, arrhythmias, and medical conditions, like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.

Heart Valve Disease

This disease occurs when one or more heart valves do not work correctly. There are four heart valves or blood vessels that keep the blood flowing in the right direction. Each valve has tissue flaps that open and close in synchronization with each heartbeat. If one of the flaps does not open or close properly, blood flow is disrupted. 

Other heart conditions, old age, and infections may increase the chances of acquiring this disease.

Heart Failure

Heart failure is a chronic condition of the heart muscle. It happens when the heart does not pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. 

A combination of other heart conditions, like coronary heart disease and congenital heart disease, weaken or damage the heart, causing heart failure.

The Legality of CBD

As of April 2020, 33 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Meanwhile, the remaining 17 states only allow CBD use(37)

The state laws regulate the amount of CBD and THC used in the products. The amount of CBD on each product should be around 10% to 15%. THC should not be more than 0.5% per product volume.


The heart is a vital organ in the cardiovascular system. If it is impaired, a person’s cardiovascular health is affected and the entire body suffers.

Heart diseases are the leading causes of death in the US, accounting for 1 out of 4 deaths(38)When left untreated, heart diseases can lead to stroke, heart attack, or even death. 

Aside from the invasive treatments, like surgery, most medications for heart problems have adverse and long-term side effects. Because of these risks, people seek for other alternatives, like CBD oil.

The health benefits of CBD include its cardioprotective, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties that may have positive effects on the heart.

While CBD may be a promising treatment for heart diseases, it is best to consult with a cardiologist before using it. CBD may interact with some prescription medications. 

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