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Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical isolated from the cannabis plant that has recently been found to be an effective treatment for multiple sclerosis and some severe forms of epilepsy, especially in children.
It’s non-psychoactive (it doesn’t get you high) and relatively abundant in cannabis, making it easy to obtain relatively large quantities. Cannabis had, until relatively recently, not been made available for medical research, so science missed out on a whole set of neurotransmitters, the cannabinoids, for investigation.
It turns out that some, especially CBD, are very useful. Recently, it was shown in a relatively small study (9 healthy adult males) that taking a dose of CBD reduced the subject’s blood pressure significantly when exposed to stress.
This is a preliminary study and shouldn’t be taken as proof of CBD’s magical power to de-stress our lives and make us all healthy, but it is a significant finding that could have far-reaching consequences.
High blood pressure is related to a higher risk of heart attack, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, peripheral circulatory problems and other conditions. It can be caused by a host of factors, including stress, economic conditions, mental health problems, genetic predisposition, diet, lack of exercise, type of job, the list goes on.
Cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer worldwide, so anything that could potentially reduce the risk of developing it could have massive consequences.
Unfortunately for many, the treatments currently available for treating high blood pressure have a number of side effects that make them intolerable to some. Statins are the most widely prescribed in the UK and the side effects include muscle and bone pain, nosebleeds, altered digestion, headaches, nausea and an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Contrasted with CBD, whose long-term effects are less studied, many of these treatments do not compare favorably. The side effects of CBD are minimal if they manifest at all. CBD has been imbibed as part of cannabis by humans for thousands of years, with few serious side effects.
There is a long list of the positive effects that CBD has on the circulatory system, from protecting the heart from the consequences of diabetes to relaxing blood vessels in isolated arteries and improving blood flow.
If the studies are repeatable and work for more people, CBD could save a lot of lives by offering a blood pressure treatment that is not only effective but has little in the way of side effects.
It is very early days, but that is the implication of this study. Potentially millions of people could benefit from this drug. It’s easy and (can be) environmentally friendly to grow and extract, it has a long history of use and an increasing number of therapeutic applications.
The science is not quite there for CBD, but it is getting there and looking hopeful.