Why Does CBD Make My Heart Race? (5 Reasons Why It Might) Why Does CBD Make My Heart Race? (5 Reasons Why It Might) If you have started taking CBD recently for a number of reasons (such as One of the most common side effects of cannabis, a spike in heart rate, happens to be one of the scariest and can even turn new users off from the plant.
Why Does CBD Make My Heart Race? (5 Reasons Why It Might)
Why Does CBD Make My Heart Race? (5 Reasons Why It Might)
If you have started taking CBD recently for a number of reasons (such as inflammation, anxiety or chronic pain) but found that after consuming it, you suddenly get palpitations.
This can be a very frightening experience, especially if your body hasn’t reacted this way before.
With CBD, there isn’t always a black and white explanation and this can be frustrating to say the least.
The majority of people that use CBD find it a great benefit, but others have to use the process of elimination occasionally, when it creates another problem to the one you originally started using CBD for.
Why Does CBD Make My Heart Race?
Heart palpitations are fairly common when consuming marijuana, as it is the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which causes this. However, CBD only contains a very small trace amount by law (0.3%). THC causes blood vessels to relax and open, which can make blood pressure drop. This in turn forces the heart to beat faster just to keep the usual amount of blood flowing. It’s unknown whether trace amounts of THC are to blame, or if other factors such as added preservatives, terpenes or carrier oils could be the reason? If you are on any kind of medication, had any previous history of palpitations, the consumption of anything around the time (such as caffeine) could cause your heart to race. Other complex systems such as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) or if you suffered from arrhythmia or tachycardia may be a factor too. If you have taken more than the manufacturer recommends, this too can cause your heart to race faster. CBD and its effect will vary, as the average recommended dosage of 70mg a day or below should have a calming effect. However, a very high dosage may cause an increased heart rate.
1. Heart Medication And Cardiovascular History
Some research has shown that CBD is a vasodilator. What this means is that CBD promotes the dilation of blood vessels and this can help lower blood pressure.
A 2020 study found that CBD may have vasodilatory effects in human and rat arteries. The authors suggest that CBD may improve flow because of the reason mentioned above.
Also, a 2017 studyTrusted Source looked at the effects of a single dose of CBD oil in healthy participants. The authors found that it lowered blood pressure in individuals at rest and those under stress.
According to the American Institute of Stress, stress may cause blood pressure to rise. This is due to the heart pumping faster and stress hormones constricting the blood vessels.
However, more research needs to conducted more to determine the effect of CBD on cardiovascular conditions.
If CBD causes blood vessels to relax and open, which makes blood pressure drop. This can force the heart to beat faster just to keep the usual amount of blood flowing.
Cannabis can cause what’s called tachycardia, which is an increase in your heart rate (HR).
It can also cause peripheral vasodilation, which means your veins and your arteries can dilate and drop your blood pressure.
That means that people who are using cannabis with unstable heart diseases, such as unstable angina or at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, should really use cannabis with caution.
This also applies to alcohol and other drugs, when mixed with medication.
Are you on any other medication when taking CBD?
Depending on what type of CBD you have, this may also apply. As a massive amount of CBD on the market doesn’t contain what it states on the packaging.
You need to make sure the CBD you purchase is from a reputable source.
When you use CBD oil, your liver breaks it down. During this process, it could interfere with your medications for heart failure or other heart conditions.
True and pure CBD shouldn’t cause tachycardia or increase in HR unless low cardiac output was an issue, because CBD aids in improving circulation.
2. What Type of CBD Do You Have?
CBD is one of many chemical compounds found in the marijuana plant. Unlike Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not produce that high feeling after use.
Companies that manufacture CBD products use different methods to extract the compound from the plant. The varying diffusions result in a range of CBD types.
There are three types of CBD, that contain different concentrations and compounds:
- Full-spectrum: Includes all parts of the cannabis plant. Full-spectrum products contain less than 0.3% THC.
- Broad-spectrum: This contains most of the cannabis plant compounds. Unlike full-spectrum, broad-spectrum products contain trace amounts of THC.
- Isolates: Only contain CBD, with no other cannabinoids or THC. Products that contain isolate CBD may not produce any notable effects.
It has been widely reported that several CBD products make misleading claims about the use of their products. People should use caution before ordering any type of CBD.
3. The Endocannabinoid System
The heart is the most noticeable member of the cardiovascular system, which is a sprawling network of veins and arteries that carry nutrient-rich blood to all parts of the body.
The cardiovascular system is also intertwined with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The full extent of the ECS is still unknown, however it is believed to regulate a range of functions such as sleep, mood, appetite, memory, reproduction and fertility.
The ECS has three core components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.
Endocannabinoids are molecules made by your body.
While the receptors are found throughout your body. Endocannabinoids bind to them in order to signal that the ECS needs to get involved.
There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the central nervous system
- CB2 receptors, which are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells
Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor. The effects that result depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it binds to.
Enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids once they’ve carried out their function.
The ECS is linked to the following processes:
- appetite and digestion
- chronic pain
- inflammation and other immune system responses
- learning and memory
- motor control
- cardiovascular system function
- muscle formation
- bone remodeling and growth
- liver function
- reproductive system function
- skin and nerve function
Experts believe that maintaining this balance is the primary role of the ECS, which may also be the reason you find your heart racing after taking CBD.
The endocannabinoid system is believed to maintain homeostasis within the body
These functions all contribute to the stability of your internal environment. If an outside force, such as pain from an injury or a fever, throws off your body out of whack, your ECS kicks in to help your body return to its ideal operation.
CBD is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that works not only with ECS receptors, but also with other systems and processes to support healing and relieve pain.
4. Sativa or Indica?
All reputable CBD companies offer third party testing to authenticate the quality of the product and there will also be batch counts to ensure the quality too.
The amount of brands that don’t offer this with their products still today is shocking. Always look out for them.
Checking the strain of CBD too, is something that most people don’t think about.
Is it an indica or Sativa hemp relative? Does it have terpenes in it?
Indica is generally relaxing, whilst Sativa is uplifting. Terpenes will also steer the effect (both for THC and CBD), therefore terpenes that are uplifting will energise you and terpenes that are relaxing will calm you down.
It’s important to check the source material and terpene content of your product.
5. Could Terpenes Be To Blame?
CBD, as you perhaps already know, affects everyone differently in many different ways. There is a lot of people who are allergic to it, or your body might not like some other ingredient in the product.
Terpenes can cause this also – These are the natural compounds in the flower or bud of the cannabis plant. Terpenoids, meanwhile, are terpenes that have been chemically altered.
The process of drying and curing a cannabis flower leads to the formation of terpenes in the CBD.
Not all blends include terpenes though. Terpenes can give you a dry mouth. They are volatile aromatics that are beneficial to the body.
One method is to do the following:
Once you’ve allowed the oil to sit under the tongue between 30 seconds to 60 seconds… Immediately take a sip of water and swish around mouth, allow the oil to dilute, then swallow.
Follow with a bit more water and it should help.
A common terpene is called Caryophyllene, which is abundant in black pepper.
It is also a sesquiterpene, meaning it will still be around after de-carbing. So, If your oil tastes peppery/spicy, it’s more than likely going to be caryophyllene.
Numerous reasons play roles if you cough during CBD vaping. One major reason for making your heart beat faster could be the presence of terpenes in it or even certain types of vape juice.
Terpenes are usually present in both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD vaping liquids.
Terpenes cause itching in the throat, which can result in coughing. If you are aren’t used to vaping, then a racing heartbeat could happen until you are used to it.
Terpenes have been reported to irritate users in different way, causing an elevated heart rate.
Other components, such as Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerine (VG), might exacerbate the airways and produce allergic reactions in certain people.
Terpenes may not agree with some people, always check the product for details
It’s hard to know exactly what could be the reason why you have experienced heart palpitations after taking CBD?
The reasons above will help you narrow down why this may be. The fact we are all very different in our genetic make up, means we all react in different ways when taking substances such as CBD.
If you are on medication for anything…not just for your heart, its worth considering there might be something which is reacting with the CBD you are taking.
Think about your current health and lifestyle choices, as they could be a factor. If you are new to using CBD it may take a week or two for your body to get used to it.
The most obvious reason would be down to the product itself not agreeing with you or that its not as good a product as advertised.
Either way, stop taking the product immediately and seek the advice of a doctor.
If you are able to send the product back to get a refund, then look to do so and spend some more time researching which CBD or any other alternative may work for you.
Always seek the professional opinion from your doctor before trying CBD or any changes to your diet.
Why cannabis can make your heart race
For a healthy individual cannabis-induced tachycardia is usually harmless, and knowing more about what cannabis is doing to your body can make you feel better about the unpleasant feeling. (Shutterstock)
One of the most common unwanted side effects of cannabis, a spike in heart rate, also happens to be one of the most troublesome and can even turn new users off from the plant.
“If you don’t explain that it’s possible that you can have a little acceleration of the heart for maybe 5 or 10 minutes and that it’s nothing to worry about,” said Janosch Kratz, MD, on The Cannabis Enigma podcast, “he gets nervous and says, ‘oh God, why did I take this drug.’”
For a healthy individual cannabis-induced tachycardia is usually harmless, and knowing more about what cannabis is doing to your body can make you feel better about the unpleasant feeling.
So why can cannabis raise your heart rate? Is it dangerous? And what can you do about it? Let’s find out.
How cannabis affects your heart in general
Cannabis has a number of common side effects, ranging from mild ones such as red eyes, dry mouth, or the munchies, to potentially more unpleasant effects such as anxiety, paranoia, and short-term memory difficulties.
These side effects, and how cannabis affects the cardiovascular system, are related to how it modulates what is known as the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system affects a wide range of bodily functions including hunger, pain, sleep, and energy, to name a few.
The major active chemicals in cannabis — cannabinoids — are able to trigger receptors that control the endocannabinoid system, modifying the function of those receptors and the connected systems, including the cardiovascular system.
“The interactions of the endocannabinoid system with the autonomic nervous system seem to be the driving force behind the reported cardiovascular adverse events [from cannabis],” wrote a group of researchers who recently reviewed years of cannabis studies 1 .
Why cannabis makes your heart race
The main culprit is widely-considered to be tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid also responsible for the high of marijuana. (Shutterstock
An increased or irregular heart rate, also known as tachycardia, can be a side effect of cannabis use. In fact, smoking cannabis can lead to a 20-100% increase in heart rate for a couple hours or more after consumption 2 . This is believed to be due to a widening of the blood vessels, which is also responsible for those red eyes people get after using cannabis.
In higher doses cannabis can also lead to a drop in blood pressure, resulting in dizziness and lightheadedness.
The main culprit for these effects of cannabis is widely-considered to be tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid also responsible for the high of marijuana.
One of the more oft-cited, albeit dated reports states that inhaling cannabis smoke and ingesting THC reliably increases the heart rate by 20-50% over baseline. A lab study carried out on rodents in 1985 further showed that THC significantly alters the levels of catecholamine — hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands and are responsible for the body’s “fight or flight” response — in the bloodstream.
Research has also shown that as one’s tolerance to cannabis increases, the severity of side effects often decreases 3 . This means that side effects commonly seen with inhaled cannabis, including increased heart rate and reduced blood pressure, is not as common in regular users.
It should be noted that almost all studies on the risks of cannabis use are based on people who inhaled marijuana smoke, and that with more and more people now preferring other methods and types of cannabis, these risk assessments should be updated. In other words, like with some other cannabis side effects, the effect on heart rate can be partly attributed to the act of smoking itself 4 .
Could lower THC strains affect your heart rate less?
Since THC is often cited as being responsible for the increased heart rate after cannabis use, one might logically conclude that choosing lower-THC strains — or lower doses in general — would help mitigate it. It would also follow that eating edibles high in THC could produce the same side effects.
Dr. Deepak Cyril D’Souza, a professor of psychiatry at the Yale University of Medicine told NBC news in November, 2020 that he has spent 25 years studying the effects of marijuana and THC and that “in our studies on THC, we found a very robust increase in heart rate and an effect on blood pressure that can be quite profound.”
A 1988 trial found that women given very low-THC (1.8%) joints showed “statically significant increases in pulse rate,” and this increase was more pronounced and lasted longer for participants with a past history of intermittent marijuana use 5 . The trial did not include a control population given a lower dose of THC however.
The most well-known and common strains (more correctly referred to as “chemovars”), high in THC and low in cannabidiol (CBD) and often bred for a strong high and medicinal benefits, are increasingly referred to as Type I cannabis. Type II chemovars have more of a balance between CBD and THC, while Type III chemovars are CBD dominant with little-to-no THC.
All types of cannabis can be used therapeutically, but types II and III tend to allow for better control of THC doses and are often preferred by healthcare professionals due to the reduced risk of side effects. Type III cannabis, despite containing small amounts of THC, is generally considered non-intoxicating.
It is increasingly accepted that CBD, which doesn’t cause an intoxicating effect, can counteract some of the effects of THC. (Shutterstock)
What about CBD?
It is increasingly accepted that CBD, which doesn’t cause an intoxicating effect, can counteract some of the effects of THC 6 . This happens because CBD can actually modify THC binding with certain receptors of the endocannabinoid system.
In other words, using a strain that has less THC or more of a CBD-dominant profile, should — by virtue of containing less THC — produce a less powerful high, and may reduce the anxiety that can commonly accompany a THC high.
As far as the effects CBD itself has on the heart, a 2017 trial found that a single dose of CBD reduced resting blood pressure and helped mitigate stress-induced blood pressure and heart-rate increases 7 .
A 2013 comprehensive published in Frontiers in Psychology looked at CBD’s ability to offset the “adverse psychological effects of THC,” and concluded that “the few studies that exist on the effects of CBD show that this cannabinoid can counteract some of the negative effects of THC.”
Is sativa or indica worse for your heart rate?
It’s conventional wisdom in cannabis that sativa strains are upbeat and indica strains are mellow and likely to induce the “couch lock” sensation. Countless cannabis consumers use these characterizations to shape their consumption or purchasing decisions
Unfortunately, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support this notion of indica vs sativa as a method of distinguishing between the effects of different types of cannabis. While there are many factors at play in determining why a cannabis chemovar produces certain effects, calling them indica or sativa is not one.
What does matter is the cannabinoid profile of the chemovar (how much THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids) and its terpene makeup. The various terpenes in cannabis not only determine its flavor and aroma, but may also have a big impact on its effects, including how energetic or sedative the high is.
Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that this can be very individualistic. The right dose for one individual can be very different than the right dose for another person, and a strain that makes one person very upbeat and giggly could induce a couch-lock sensation for someone else. And while a specific strain may be very relaxing to one person, another user could experience anxiety or paranoia, but this would not indicate that this is a universally-experienced effect of the cannabis variety in question. The same could be true for increased heart rate.
Is cannabis dangerous for the heart?
If you are a young, healthy person with no history of cardiac illness, then you probably should not be overly concerned about the cardiovascular side effects of cannabis use.
A 2018 review of existing research into marijuana use and cardiovascular risk factors found that there is “insufficient” evidence about how marijuana affects cardiovascular risk factors including stroke and heart attack 8 . The researchers stated that the current literature on the matter is limited by “recall bias, inadequate exposure assessment, minimal marijuana exposure, and a predominance of low-risk cohorts.”
That doesn’t mean that there may not be cause for concern. In fact, there is a substantial amount of data to suggest cannabis may increase the risk of cardiac disease
Researchers in 2014 examined the reporting of cardiovascular complications related to cannabis use and found that they “indicate cannabis as a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease in young adults.” 9 More recently, a 2017 review discussed “harmful effects of cannabis use including fatal cardiovascular events that could be related to cannabis use,” including but not limited to increased heart rate and blood pressure and a heightened risk of acute coronary events 10 .
Cardiac-related mortality data from the U.S. National Vital Statistics System for 1990-2014 and showed a statistically significant increase of 2.4% in the rate of cardiac death among men following the passage of medical cannabis programs, as well as 1.3% increase among women 11 .
Other research has found that cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of cardiac dysrhythmia 12 , as well as non-fatal stroke, transient ischemic attack 13 , and acute myocardial infarction 14 . Importantly, cannabis users are more likely to be using tobacco products than non-cannabis users, which may contribute to these negative cardiac outcomes.
In general, if you are considering using cannabis, you may want to speak to your physician about the possible side effects, especially if you have a history of cardiovascular issues.
Can you do anything about increased heart rate from cannabis?
When it comes to cardiovascular health and cannabis, many of the same healthy lifestyle principles apply: Try to limit or cut out smoking as an intake method, exercise regularly, eat healthy, and try to get a full night’s sleep as often as possible.
If you find that you often get anxiety or your mind (along with your heart) races when you get high, then consider trying a lower-THC variety, or one that has more of an even balance between THC and CBD. This will help keep your THC dose lower and reduce the likelihood of a racing heart and racing mind.
And when those intense feelings strike, use some tried and true ways to bring your high down a little bit. First off, don’t panic. Remember that the high will wear off before too long, and this isn’t a permanent condition. Try to focus on your breathing, taking deep breaths to help you relax and bring your anxiety down. You can also try to find something funny on the TV, put on an album you love listening to, and when in doubt, raid the cupboard for snacks.