According to recent statistics, approximately 78 million American adults have high blood pressure. It is a condition also known as hypertension. Globally, nearly one billion people have high blood pressure.
It probably doesn’t seem like such a terrible condition to have, especially when compared to cancer or HIV. However, high blood pressure is called the “silent killer” by many health professionals. It often has no warning signs or symptoms and can lead to serious long-term health issues.
High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and kidney disease.
There are a myriad of treatments available, but many carry risks. Medical marijuana is a potential option, although research remains limited. In this article, we outline what high blood pressure is and whether weed can help. We conclude by providing five great strains to consider.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
First of all, let’s define the term “blood pressure.” It is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. Blood pressure is written as two numbers, such as 114/70 mm Hg. The first number is the pressure when the heart beats. The second number is the pressure when the heart rests between beats. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg.
High blood pressure occurs when the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be. It’s when your blood pushes against the walls of your blood vessels at a rate that is too high. High blood pressure will not have an immediate impact on your health.
However, over time, the force of high blood pressure damages tissues inside the arteries causing the arteries to become smaller (narrower). This process continues to raise blood pressure and starts a circle of problems that can cause your health to deteriorate. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to medical issues such as:
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
- Heart attack
What Are the Main Causes of High Blood Pressure?
Like certain medical conditions, you can’t self-diagnose high blood pressure. You can’t tell if you’ve got high blood pressure or not until you start to feel other problems. The best way to monitor your blood pressure is to have it checked regularly by your doctor. Nevertheless, several symptoms may indicate high blood pressure. These include:
- Severe headache
- Vision problems
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
The exact cause of high blood pressure is still a mystery to most physicians. The assumption is that some of the following factors and conditions may play a role:
- Eating too much salt in your diet
- Alcohol consumption
- Older age
- Chronic kidney disease
- Sleep apnea
- Lack of exercise
- An unhealthy diet
Traditional Treatments for High Blood Pressure
One of the best ways to combat high blood pressure is to acknowledge the problem and actively do something about it. For example, lose weight if you are overweight. Quit smoking, change to a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Also, it is best to limit alcohol consumption.
There are several types of drugs you can use to treat high blood pressure. These include:
- Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors: These drugs are used for controlling high blood pressure, treating heart failure, and preventing kidney failure.
- Diuretics: Drugs such as amiloride and bumetanide help your kidneys take salt and water out of your body.
- Beta-blockers: Drugs such as acebutolol or atenolol slow down your heartbeat and keep your heart from squeezing hard.
- Calcium Channel Blockers: Drugs such as Norvasc and Plendil are used to lower blood pressure. They slow the movement of calcium into the cells of the heart and blood vessel walls. This process makes it easier for the heart to pump and widens blood vessels.
- Alpha-blockers: These drugs help stop nerve signals before they can tell your blood vessels to tighten. Your vessels stay relaxed, allowing the blood to run through them at a smoother rate. Alpha-blockers include doxazosin and prazosin.
- Omega 3 fish oil supplements: Over the last couple of years, many people with high blood pressure have turned to Omega 3 fish oil supplements. Omega 3 contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA). They can help to prevent heart disease and lower blood pressure.
Similar to any pharmaceutical drug, you may experience side effects. These can include:
- Red or itchy skin
- Sore throat
- Mouth sores
- Unusual bruising
- Severe vomiting
Always follow the label directions on the medication prescribed by your doctor and consistently schedule routine check-ups.
Marijuana Treatment for High Blood Pressure
Marijuana use for high blood pressure is an extremely controversial topic. A study by Alshaarawy and Elbaz, published in the Journal of Hypertension in August 2016, looked at cannabis use and blood pressure levels. The researchers found that there was an association between systolic blood pressure and recent marijuana usage. It suggests that people with high blood pressure should perhaps steer clear of MMJ.
However, several studies have shown that cannabis has a positive effect, helping to lower blood pressure. One of the most interesting studies was by Jadoon et al., published in JCI Insight in June 2017. The researchers gave 600mg of CBD to nine healthy male volunteers. This acute administration of CBD helped lower the men’s resting blood pressure. Whether this means we should stick to cannabidiol rather than THC is unclear.
According to some, it also depends on the method of consumption. For example, vaping is considered safer than traditional smoking. Your body isn’t fighting off toxins in your lungs when vaping. Causing your body to fight in this manner could increase blood pressure.
Anandamide, the body’s natural version of THC, relaxes blood vessels, allowing blood to flow through more freely. It is believed that if the body’s natural THC components can help to reduce high blood pressure, specific marijuana strains could have a similar effect.
The best-known strains for hypertension include indica-dominant hybrids such as White Haze (indica) and Early Queen (indica). However, these strains cannot always be found at every dispensary. Fortunately, the five we have outlined below are a little easier to locate.
5 Best Marijuana Strains for High Blood Pressure
Please note that it is always best to consult with a medical marijuana doctor before consuming any marijuana strain. If you have any severe medical condition, attend regular check-ups to monitor your blood pressure and medical situation.
#1 – Blue Dream
Blue Dream is one of the most popular strains on dispensary shelves, and for a good reason. It potentially provides users with a feeling of relaxation and balance. Also, this sativa-dominant hybrid is used by those who suffer from chronic fatigue, ADD/ADHD, and depression.
It could also help some patients with high blood pressure. Users say Blue Dream allows them to wind down and relax, exactly what those blood vessels need. It is a cross of Super Silver Haze and Blueberry Indica. With a THC content of 17-24%, it is probably too potent for newbies.
#2 – Green Crack
This THC powerhouse is great for daytime use and useful for those who need morning assistance. Green Crack could help arthritis patients and those with other chronic pain conditions. Originally called Green Kush, Snoop Dogg renamed it because of its light yet uplifting high.
The high THC levels (13-21%) are thought to affect the body, similar to the body’s natural THC. Green Crack is a cross of Sweet Leaf indica and Skunk #1. It is an excellent option if you need help in becoming more creative and inspired.
#3 – Sour Diesel
The exact genetics of this marijuana strain are a mystery to most people. However, it is likely a cross between Chemdawg 91 and Super Skunk. Also known as ‘Sour D,’ this strain acts fast and has a reputation amongst growers as a top cash crop. While we don’t know who bred Sour Diesel, it was probably created in California in the 1990s.
Containing a 22% THC level and 0.2% CBD level, Sour Diesel is a preferred medical marijuana strain. It helps reduce the stress and anxiety often associated with high blood pressure.
#4 – Northern Lights
Known for providing a happy, relaxing, uplifting feeling, Northern Lights has become a popular MMJ strain. Indeed, even people who know little about cannabis have heard of it. Northern Lights could help with a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia, nausea, and pain.
Some patients have claimed this strain enables them to keep their blood pressure under control. As a result, they can relax and remove bodily pain and muscle tension, causing the blood to flow freely throughout the body. It is a cross of a Thai sativa and an Afghani indica but is a strongly indica-dominant strain. Northern Lights’ THC content of 18% commands respect.
#5 – Purple Kush
Purple Kush is the last strain on our list. Dispensaries often recommend it as the number #1 option for a variety of medical conditions. Emerging from Oakland, California, this strain is a favorite among its locals. It is a cross of a Purple Afghani and Hindu Kush and is almost a pure indica.
It’s a viable option for stress and could provide that ultimate relaxing feeling. This is precisely what is needed when you suffer from hypertension. Once again, novices be wary as Purple Kush’s THC content of 22% is likely to overwhelm.
Final Thoughts About Marijuana and High Blood Pressure
When using medical cannabis to combat high blood pressure, remember that specific marijuana strains could hurt the body. Some marijuana strains may have an immediate uplifting effect, which is excellent for some conditions. However, they can also increase the heart rate, which isn’t ideal for those who suffer from high blood pressure.
It’s essential to consult with a professional before you decide to use MMJ. Hopefully, your physician can help you create a plan to dose sensibly. Remember, the potential effects of cannabis vary depending on the user.