Today we are exploring the correlation of marijuana and blood pressure. Many of you in your cannabis adventures have probably noticed some strange effects from time to time. One question that pops up quite a bit is does marijuana lower blood pressure fast? You may have heard of it being referred to as “the silent killer”. With its lack of symptoms, high blood pressure can quite easily go unnoticed, but if you have it, or know someone who has hypertension (high blood pressure), you are certainly not alone. In fact, 1 in 4 Canadians are affected by high blood pressure. With technology providing us with faster means of communication and more efficient workflows, we should have more time than ever to reduce our stress levels, relax and spend time with our family and friends. Instead, we fill all of that time up with more work. We work all day at the office and then take our work home with us on our phones and laptops. We consume quick and inexpensive high sodium fast foods so we can get back to our fast paced lives as quickly as possible. In fact we’re so busy during the week that when we finally do have some time off, we try to squeeze as many fun activities as possible into it in order to maximize our “downtime” before it’s back to the grind. We find ourselves in this whirlwind, spinning faster and faster with no time to ground ourselves and stop the constant cycle. This high stress, unhealthy lifestyle has been a big contributor to the enormous numbers of Canadians who are affected by high blood pressure every day. In order to get control of hypertension and lower blood pressure, many have resorted to pharmaceutical medications. Diuretics are the most common form of medication for high blood pressure, but what if you’re looking for a more natural alternative? With the recent hype and ongoing research around the potential benefits of medicating with marijuana, many are now wondering if marijuana can help to lower blood pressure.
What is Blood Pressure?
In order to understand what can help lower blood pressure we must understand what blood pressure actually refers to. Blood pressure is the force at which blood pushes against your blood vessel walls. The higher the blood pressure, the more your heart has to work in order to circulate blood throughout your body. The high friction of blood against the fragile blood vessels can damage tissues inside the arteries allowing plaque to form, narrowing the inside of the arteries further which can lead to other conditions such as a stroke or heart attack.
What are the Causes of Hypertension?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be caused by numerous factors and it is very difficult to determine what the exact cause is. Known causes are stress, obesity, excess salt intake, aging, excessive drinking and family genetics. Lack of exercise and potassium are other known causes that can lead to high blood pressure. Many have found consuming marijuana can be an effective method of reducing stress in order to assist with lowering blood pressure.
The Meaning Behind the Measurements
There are three different categories of blood pressure. Low risk, medium risk and high risk.
Low Risk: 120 / 80 mm Hg
Medium Risk: 121-139 / 80-89 mm Hg
High Risk: 140+ / 90 mm Hg
Each category has a systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number). The systolic number measures the pressure of blood in your arteries when your heart contracts. The diastolic number measures the pressure in your arteries in between heart beats. These two numbers are written like a fraction and expressed in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). For example, if you have a systolic measurement of 120 and a diastolic measurement of 80 it would look like this: 120 / 80 mmHg. If you’re measuring your blood pressure at home, a systolic pressure over 135 mmHg or a diastolic pressure above 85 mmHg is considered high. There are some exceptions however. If you have diabetes or a chronic kidney disease a systolic pressure above 130 mmHg or diastolic pressure above 80 mmHg is considered high. Your blood pressure category is based on the highest category (either systolic or diastolic).
How to Lower Blood Pressure
It is very important that you consult your physician if you suspect you have high blood pressure. An annual check up is a great way to keep track of your blood pressure levels. Although there is not one solution for lowering blood pressure, there are a few things you can do to help. Reducing stress in your life is one way you can help to lower your blood pressure. High stress situations can increase your heart rate and in turn, increase blood pressure. You can also reduce your intake of high sodium foods and increase your exercise regime. Staying fit and active has many health benefits, reducing your blood pressure being one of them. Reducing alcohol consumption to no more than 1-2 drinks per day can also help to reduce blood pressure levels. Upon consultation of your physician, if medication has been prescribed, ensure you follow the dosage exactly and on schedule. Many have also found that consuming marijuana can be an effective method of reducing stress and in turn, lowering blood pressure.
Verdict: Does Marijuana Lower Blood Pressure Fast?
If you’re looking for the short answer to; “does marijuana lower blood pressure?” the answer is yes. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Recent studies have shown that users who consume marijuana will notice a slight increase in blood pressure within the first 10 to 15 minutes after consumption, followed by a slight decrease in blood pressure. After repeated use, some users of marijuana develop a tolerance to the initial blood pressure increase and instead notice hypotensive (reduced blood pressure) effects directly after consumption. There is still a lot of research to be done, but more studies are finding that anandamide (our body’s own version of THC) can help to relax blood vessels, in turn lowering blood pressure levels. This may be the reason why decreased blood pressure levels can be detected after consuming marijuana.
As with anything concerning your health, it is important that you always consult a physician first. By checking your blood pressure on a regular basis you’ll be able to properly monitor it and get a better understanding of your levels. While reducing stress, exercising more frequently and reducing sodium intake have great health benefits including lowering blood pressure, marijuana has also proven to be quite effective for many people. There are still many more studies to be done, but it’s certainly interesting to see how consuming marijuana has helped so many.