High blood pressure affects 32 percent of men and 30 percent of wimmen in the United Kingdom. It strikes almost everybody eventually. It raises the risk of chronic kidney disease, a heart attack, a stroke and a host of other dangerous health problems.
High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. Sensationalistically, it goes by the name of “the silent killer”. This is because it usually has no noticeable symptoms until levels are very high, and problems arise out of the blue.
Studies, studies, studies
Is it time to take cannabis? True, there was one study published by the European Journal of Cardiology in 2017 that claimed cannabis users were thrice as likely to die from high blood pressure, but it was withdrawn on the grounds of a methodological error. Also, the study was observational, looking at a group of people over time and not establishing cause and effect, ie claiming that smoking cannabis causes hypertension; the authors acknowledged this.
However, another study, conducted in 1973 by the Allan Memorial Institute of Psychiatry at Quebec’s McGill University, saw hypertensive rats injected with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis). After this, their blood pressure immediately fell significantly for days; there was no effect on rats whose blood pressure was normal. And there was the 1974 study published in the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology where cats injected with THC experienced lower blood pressure; these cats weren’t hypertensive, so THC worked even when there was no pre-existing condition. Or there was the 1992 study by Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina that looked at people rather than animals and found their blood pressure reduced after smoking dope; it was only a small decrease, but the cannabis used was weak: only three percent THC while the cannabis of today is frequently more than 20 percent.
It’s known that cannabis benefits people suffering the high blood pressure symptoms of anxiety, blurred vision, dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting and shortness of breath and chest pain. It also works well against the side effects of some high blood pressure medications, including muscle cramps, sleep disturbance and tremors.
A little warning
Inexperienced or light cannabis users will find that taking cannabis causes blood pressure to rise moderately for about 15 minutes and then fall. This is also what happen after exercise. People who know they are hypertensive should not indulge for this reason.
Other ways to control high blood pressure
Confronted with high blood pressure, you might choose to burden the NHS by taking prescription drugs for the rest of your life. These include alpha blockers, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics, but all have unpleasant side effects, one being, horror of horrors, erectile dysfunction. Cannabis can be bad for high blood pressure indirectly if it increases your appetite, and you make poor dietary choices. Sure, you can also control high blood pressure by being physically active, eating healthily, farting, limiting alcohol intake and managing stress, and these might be enough if the high blood pressure is mild. But wouldn’t you rather take cannabis?