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    CBD and Cardiovascular Health By Bonnie Hagen

    By Bonnie Hagen


    Your heart changes with age, and those changes may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of disability, limiting activity and eroding the quality of life for millions of older people. The most common change to people’s cardiovascular system as they age is arteriosclerosis, which is commonly known as the hardening of the arteries. This hardening causes hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Because of this, people 65 and older are much more likely than younger people to develop heart disease and suffer a heart attack. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year


    With that sobering statistic in mind, researchers have stepped up their investigation into CBD as a potential treatment for cardiovascular disease. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-intoxicating compound found in the hemp plant. For some time now, it’s been known that cannabinoids cause “vasorelaxation” or the widening of blood vessels. CBD has also been known as an anti-inflammatory, an attractive quality given that inflammation is part of the disorder that leads to many diseases, including coronary heart diseasehigh blood pressure, and stroke.

    Researchers have wondered about the relationship between plant-based cannabinoids, such as CBD, and the cannabinoid system that regulates most of the biological activities in the human body, the endocannabinoid system (ECS). If you’ve never heard of the endocannabinoid system, don’t be surprised. Its existence was discovered relatively recently. Based on the pioneering work of Dr. Raphael Mechoulam at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, who first isolated THC and CBD in 1964, Dr. Allyn Howlett and Dr. William Devane discovered the ECS in 1988 at the St. Louis University School of Medicine. 


    They showed that human cells communicate with chemical signals and cellular receptors to turn on or shut off activities that keep the body in balance — what scientists call homeostasis. The endocannabinoid system governs sleep, body temperature, memory, pain resistance, and appetite – basically all the biological processes necessary for living. 


    We’ve learned that one endocannabinoid receptor, known as the CB2, exists mostly in immune tissues and helps govern inflammation in the stomach and bowels, leading researchers to become intensely curious about CB2’s potential to decrease inflammation in arterial walls and reduce high blood pressure. One 2008 study done in Brazil looked at that possibility. The researchers raised cardiovascular stress in rodents by placing them in confinement for one hour, then administering CBD to them. Rodents that received CBD showed a substantial drop in blood pressure and heart rate. 


    A more recent study shed light on a protective role of CB2 in cardiovascular disease with a particular emphasis on possible CB2-targeted therapeutic interventions to alleviate atherosclerosis. 


    Another study found that CBD has a direct effect on the arteries, helping reduce inflammation and improving blood flow. This suggests that CBD reduces inflammation in arteries and blood vessels, easing the strain on the heart, and potentially preventing heart failure.


    One virtue of CBD is that CBD has few side effects. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that CBD is generally well tolerated and has a good safety profile, as it is non-addictive and it’s almost impossible to overdose on it. However, there are still things to consider before you try CBD. If you are currently taking any other medications, speak with your doctor before trying CBD. Some research suggests that CBD may interfere with the way the liver processes certain medications. 


    If you do receive the “All Clear” from your doctor, there are still factors to bear in mind when purchasing CBD:


    • Look for a CBD brand that is extracted from hemp which is grown organically, without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. These contaminants can make you sicker and will nullify the health benefits you are experiencing by using CBD.
    • Look for CBD that’s “full-spectrum,” not “broad spectrum”, nor an “isolate”. A full-spectrum formula has the full variety of cannabinoids available in the hemp plant, along with CBD, so you enjoy synergistic benefits of all the hemp’s compounds known as the “entourage effect.” Yes, there is a tiny amount of THC in a full-spectrum formula, but it is not enough to make you high. Federally, legal formulations have < .3% THC, and that is enough to magnify the effect of CBD and other cannabinoids.
    • Make sure you get a CBD brand whose product has been tested by an independent third-party laboratory. The manufacturer should make the lab test results available on their website. Read the lab tests like you would read your own blood test results. Make sure all items fall within the acceptable upper and lower limits.
    • If you can’t tell the above items from looking at the label, don’t buy them. You will not know what you are buying, and worse yet, ingesting. 
    • Dosing with CBD is more of an art than a science. If you’re using CBD for the first time, try a small dose first and be on the lookout for any side effects. If you observe none, you can slowly increase your dosage (by approximately 5 to 10 mg increase at a time) until you find the dosage that is right for you.
    • Finally, CBD’s benefits don’t manifest immediately after ingestion. It needs to build up in your system before you feel the effects, so give the compound 2-3 weeks to fully kick in. 

    Bonnie Hagen is the principal and founder of Bright Formulations LLC, a health and wellness company that specializes in hemp extract with CBD.  The Bright Energy ® brand of hemp extract with CBD was launched with the intention of helping people achieve their health and well-being goals, using the all-natural hemp plant. Bonnie helps people use the hemp plant to free themselves from pain, insomnia, stress, and discomfort. Seeing repeatedly how this incredible plant provides protection, grounding, balance, regeneration, clarity, purpose, and peace to those who use it wisely, Bonnie decided to build a different kind of company around it. Using clean and sustainably grown ingredients in her formulations, Bonnie brings to the marketplace hemp extract with CBD that is grown without chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, is extracted without using harmful solvents, and is bottled without any artificial ingredients or fillers.