Can CBD help with arrhythmia, and if so, how? 

Arrhythmia and Its Symptoms

An arrhythmia (also called irregular heartbeat) is a problem with the rate or rhythm of a heartbeat. It means that the heart beats too fast, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern(1). 

In healthy adults, the heart regularly beats at a rate of 60 to 100 times per minute(2). 

Cardiac arrhythmias can be classified according to their effect on the heart rate, with bradycardia indicating a heart rate of fewer than 60 beats per minute and tachycardia indicating a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute(3). 

Symptoms of arrhythmias include(4):

    • Fast or slow heartbeat
    • Skipping beats or heart palpitations
    • Lightheadedness or dizziness
    • Chest pain
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sweating

Why People Are Turning to CBD for Arrhythmia

According to a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, drastic cannabidiol or CBD administration suppressed irregular heartbeat caused by ischemia-induced heart arrhythmias (inadequate blood supply in the heart) in an animal model(5). This suggests that CBD may provide the heart with protection.

The American Heart Association describes ischemia as a condition characterized by a restricted or reduced blood flow (which also restricts the flow of oxygen)(6). 

In the said study, irregular heartbeats were monitored during ischemia before periods of CBD perfusion (passage of fluid through the circulatory system). 

The size of the infarct (a localized area of dead tissue) or obstructed blood supply and cell damage in the heart were also examined through the drawing of blood from the arteries.

The researchers also found the following:

    • Cannabidiol reduced the incidence of irregular heartbeats caused by reduced blood flow or ischemia.
    • CBD minimized the infarct or damaged tissue size when the cannabinoid was administered before ischemia.
    • The effect of CBD was dose-dependent.
    • CBD may help prevent ventricular arrhythmias, characterized by irregular heartbeat occurring in the heart ventricles or heart chambers.   

According to an article published by the University of Rochester Medical Center, as a result of long-term stress, high cortisol blood levels can raise blood cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, and blood sugar(7). These are the common risk factors for arrhythmia and other heart diseases.

Meanwhile, CBD has been shown to possess anti-anxiety properties that may help combat stress. 

Published in Neurotherapeutics Journal, a 2015 review of 49 studies suggested CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors linked to multiple disorders(8).

In some cases that contribute to the development of ventricular tachycardia, open-heart surgery may be needed. An example of such a case is when there are blockages in the blood vessels(9).

After surgery or a heart attack, an individual may experience loss of appetite due to surgical pain, which can eventually lead to low levels of calcium and potassium, slowing down long-term recovery(10). Electrolyte imbalances can also make an individual susceptible to arrhythmia(11).

Fortunately, when it comes to pain relief, CBD may be useful. A study published in Chemistry and Biodiversity showed that a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC helped with pain and sleep problems(12).

Meanwhile, results from a study, which examined the interaction between cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, showed evidence of how the endocannabinoid system can regulate appetite(13).

CBD’s potent anti-inflammatory properties were also demonstrated in a 2018 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics(14). 

Working directly with the cannabinoid receptors of the body to help suppress inflammation, CBD may help people with myocarditis experience pain relief as well as reduced signs and symptoms. 

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle, which can cause arrhythmias(15). 

Conclusion

Studies have begun to show the amazing health benefits of CBD. This non-psychoactive cannabinoid from the cannabis plant may help prevent arrhythmia by providing its potential therapeutic properties. 

However, there are side effects that come with CBD use, such as possible interactions with drugs used to promote the health of the cardiovascular system. 

According to Mayo Clinic, other possible side effects of CBD use include drowsiness, dry mouth, diarrhea, fatigue, and reduced appetite(16).

Thus, before using CBD or any CBD products (such as tincture, gummies, salves, patches, or lotions) as a supplement to an existing therapy or as a remedy for specific heart conditions like arrhythmias, consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use for advice.


  1. MedlinePlus. (2016, August 15). Arrhythmia. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/arrhythmia.html.
  2. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, Feb). Cardiac Arrhythmias. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/cardiac-arrhythmias-a-to-z.
  3. Ibid. 
  4. MedlinePlus. (2016, August 15). Arrhythmia. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/arrhythmia.html.
  5. Walsh SK, Hepburn CY, Kane KA, Wainwright CL. Acute administration of cannabidiol in vivo suppresses ischaemia-induced cardiac arrhythmias and reduces infarct size when given at reperfusion. Br J Pharmacol. 2010;160(5):1234–1242. DOI:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00755.x.
  6. American Heart Association. (2015, July 31). Silent Ischemia and Ischemic Heart Disease. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/about-heart-attacks/silent-ischemia-and-ischemic-heart-disease.
  7. University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester. Stress Can Increase Your Risk for Heart Disease. Retrieved from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=2171.
  8. Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825–836. doi: 10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1.
  9. Mayo Clinic. (2018, Oct 4). Ventricular tachycardia. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ventricular-tachycardia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355144
  10. Parham WA, Mehdirad AA, Biermann KM, Fredman CS. Hyperkalemia revisited. Tex Heart Inst J. 2006;33(1):40–47.
  11. Gettes LS. Electrolyte abnormalities underlying lethal and ventricular arrhythmias. Circulation. 1992;85(1 Suppl):I70–I76.
  12. Russo EB, Guy GW, Robson PJ. Cannabis, pain, and sleep: lessons from therapeutic clinical trials of Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine. Chem Biodivers. 2007;4(8):1729–1743. DOI:10.1002/cbdv.200790150.
  13. Kirkham TC. Cannabinoids and appetite: food craving and food pleasure. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2009;21(2):163–171. DOI:10.1080/09540260902782810.
  14. Petrosino S et al. Anti-inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol, a Nonpsychotropic Cannabinoid, in Experimental Allergic Contact Dermatitis. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics June 2018, 365 (3) 652-663; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1124/jpet.117.244368.
  15. Mayo Clinic. (2019, Mar 16). Myocarditis. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/myocarditis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352539.
  16. Bauer, B. (2018, Dec 20). What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
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