Does Marijuana Harm Your Heart?

We get plenty of emails regarding marijuana…is it heart healthy?

As more states legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal uses, it appears here to stay. So, let’s talk about options for using and possible medicinal uses. Like anything, speak with your holistic doctor prior to acting on any information in this post.

Over half the states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana.

Marijuana (cannabis) has two major constituents: THC and CBD. Both can be therapeutic, but it is the THC that is linked to psychological effects in the short and long term.

So, let’s get to the science.

Marijuana has also been found to be effective in relieving some of the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis.

Marijuana has been used for chronic pain for decades. Chronic pain is linked to a higher risk of hypertension, heart attack, and death. If marijuana can reduce pain, this should mean good outcomes.

What I want to point out is that marijuana is a band-aid like alcohol, ibuprofen, narcotics etc.

I choose to find the CAUSE of pain and remove cause and treat naturally, including chiropractic care. If we find and treat CAUSE, and pain remains, this is a place for medical marijuana.

I do not propose that we are all better off consuming marijuana as first line therapy.

There are similar studies that show the risks associated with the use of marijuana. Longitudinal studies have shown the harmful effects on lung function2 and the increased risk of schizophrenia and psychosis.

A recent study was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s meetings that cautions us about the risk of recreational and medicinal use in a population with established cardiovascular disease or in people with an increased risk of heart disease. The observational study results serve as a warning to patients with heart conditions. There are other studies that failed to prove long-term effects on cardiovascular mortality.

However, most of the studies mentioned above are observational and experimental animal studies, and there are no randomized human studies.

Marijuana, known as cannabis, has receptors all over the body. There are 2 types of cannabinoid receptors in humans. Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) activation is pro-atherogenic and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) activation is anti-atherogenic.

Cannabinoids modulate the immune system, alter lipid metabolism, and affect endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). This means that they have the potential to cause massive positive or negative effects. Not to mention genetic and epigenetic abnormalities.


Essentially, whatever your complaint or health issue, cannabis can make it better or worse.

In humans, marijuana use is associated with increased heart rate and postural fluctuations in blood pressure, which may be implicated in developing heart attacks or strokes. Multiple case reports of acute coronary syndrome after marijuana use have been published. More recently, a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association reported that there are potential cardiovascular dangers to young adults using marijuana.

18 case reports of stroke from marijuana in a recent report.

Another study found links to heart failure and marijuana use.

Almost 5x higher risk for myocardial infarction (MI) within 1 hour of smoking marijuana.

In patients with a history of MI, marijuana use more than once a week was associated with a 3-fold increase in mortality.

The Good Heart Health News for Marijuana Users

Users have a lower risk of atrial fibrillation with marijuana.

Another study compared use with no marijuana use with association with incident CVD, stroke or transient ischemic attacks, coronary heart disease, or CVD mortality. Marijuana use was not associated with CVD when stratified by age, gender, race, or family history of CVD.

To Smoke or Eat?

The delivery method of cannabis is likely are major factor in overall risk.

Substances within the inhaled smoke, such as carbon monoxide and burnt plant particles, can harm lung tissues and damage small blood vessels. This is like tobacco smoking, which can have negative effects on the heart and can also lead to strokes, especially in patients with existing heart and circulatory problems.

At this time, there are no randomized human trials regarding cannabis consumption.

The Future

The future will try to decipher what effects THC has and what CBD has. Combinations will be tried for various ailments. Since it will be tough to patent a combination product, science may not offer answers to satisfy us.


Stay tuned. In the meantime, I would not recommend starting cannabis in any form until all other health factors are improved.

I think this gives your body the best chance to accept the benefits and minimize possible harm.

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