“It’s clear that CBD has potential,” says Professor Sumnall, “but we’re at a very early stage of that research.”
Some of this work is still in animals, and much more research is needed before we can definitively say that CBD can help in this area.
Many of these can be easily picked up from reputable high street stores, such as Holland & Barrett or Boots.
Can CBD help the heart?
“In terms of the products found in shops, there’s virtually no evidence to support the claims made for a lot of them.” Harry Sumnall, Professor in Substance Use at Liverpool John Moores University
However, it also notes that this research is still in the early stages, and that more studies are needed before conclusions can be drawn on whether CBD is effective.
Prices can be high: a 500mg bottle of CBD oil oral drops could set you back as much as £45. Not that this has put people off: over the past two years, sales of CBD have almost doubled in the UK, putting regular users at an estimated quarter of a million.
Since 2016, any CBD product that is presented as having medicinal value must be licensed and regulated as a medicine, regardless of whether it is actually effective. Manufacturers must follow very specific and robust rules around production, packaging and the information provided.
Here’s a review of all the major studies conducted on CBD and heart rate:
Could it reduce heart rate as well?
Does CBD only affect heart rate in stressful conditions?
None of the results of my experiments were SUPER eye-catching, but as you can see from the charts I did experience a modest but noticeable reduction in heart rate after taking CBD across all three experiments. However, these tests also were all under non-stressful conditions: even the ones involving cardio and sauna ultimately aren’t a great test of the “fight or flight” response. The increased heart rate and blood pressure during physical activity is a physical adaptation that’s different from the increase you’d see with anxiety.
This suggests that CBD may only reduce heart rate if heart rate has otherwise been increased by stressful conditions. This makes sense because increased heart rate and blood pressure is a result of autonomic arousal, aka the “fight or flight” response that is activated upon stress. Autonomic arousal is also the mechanism behind anxiety and panic attacks, and CBD is well-known as an effective anxiety reliever: one 2019 study in The Permanente Journa l and another in the Journal of Neurotherapeutics both found that CBD reduced anxiety.
As with CBD’s effect on heart rate, this is a very open question. Bottom line is: we don’t know, because little research has been done on CBD’s effect on the cardiovascular system.