CBD Gummies And Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations are a scary but common side effect of consuming cannabis. Read on for what to expect and how to deal with this symptom. Get the essential information related to CBD and heart arrhythmia. Modern studies and anecdotal reports are included. In recent years, CBD oil has been called the 'miracle of the modern age'. But what is CBD, and can CBD products help the heart?

CBD Gummies And Heart Palpitations

A racing heart is a scary but common side effect of consuming cannabis. This is due to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabis compound responsible for the plant’s euphoric high. But people who consume cannabidiol (CBD) products such as tinctures have also reported heart palpitations, even though these products contain very little or no THC.

Can CBD cause the heart to pound like THC does? Research reveals that this cannabis compound doesn’t negatively affect your heart rate or blood pressure, but scientists are still working to unravel the complex relationship between cannabis and the heart.

How Cannabis Affects the Cardiovascular System

The heart is the most visible member of the cardiovascular system—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), a rich network of cell receptors that natural cannabinoids produced by the body, called endocannabinoids, and cannabinoids from outside sources, mainly the cannabis plant, can activate. The ECS works with many other subsystems and processes to support homeostasis, or balance, which is necessary for good health.

Lipid molecules in the cell membranes of the heart and other cardiovascular tissues create these endocannabinoids.

Learning About CB1 and CB2

Endocannabinoids bind to ECS receptors, called CB1 and CB2, throughout the body and brain to support the immune system and regulate many other essential functions—and so do cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. This is why cannabis can have such a wide range of effects.

But the action of the CB1 and CB2 receptors isn’t always positive. And these receptors can behave in different ways in the presence of various cannabis compounds and terpenes. This can make it difficult to determine whether compounds like CBD and THC are actually helpful or harmful in certain situations.

For example, some studies suggest that people who consume whole-plant cannabis have a higher risk of heart disease than the rest of the population. And for all consumers, the risk of a heart attack increases fivefold within an hour of taking cannabis; the risk of a stroke quadruples in that same time period.

On the other hand, taking cannabis can increase the survival rate after a stroke or heart attack and reduce the risk of a potentially serious condition called atrial fibrillation in people who already have heart failure.

How Can Cannabis Cause Heart Palpitations?

When cannabis causes negative effects on the heart and cardiovascular system, THC is the reason.

After consuming a cannabis product that contains THC, some people experience a sudden, rapid heartbeat—an increase of up to 50 beats per minute. This is because THC causes blood vessels to relax and open, which can make blood pressure drop. This forces the heart to beat faster just to keep the usual amount of blood flowing.

A speeding heartbeat after taking marijuana isn’t generally a cause for concern in healthy people, but it can be risky for people who already have some kind of heart or cardiovascular condition.

CBD doesn’t affect the heart and cardiovascular system in the same way, though. It’s 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.

CBD can also soften the effects of THC by blocking its action on the CB1 receptor. And this provides some protection from THC’s negative effects such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid heartbeat

A number of studies over the past decade or so have investigated the effects of CBD on various physiological processes. Researchers have concluded that although individual responses to CBD can vary, CBD-only products don’t cause changes in the cardiovascular system, including blood pressure and heart rate.

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Is There A Connection Between CBD & Heart Palpitations?

So, why would someone have heart flutters after taking CBD? One widely disputed study
hypothesized that the reason people taking CBD can have THC-like symptoms is that gastric fluids found in the stomach could actually convert CBD into THC. When this happens, researchers said, THC could enter the bloodstream and affect the body in the same way as THC from cannabis could.

But the 2016 study didn’t use real gastric juices, only an analog—a substance that resembles gastric juices—that scientists use in labs to determine how fast medications could dissolve in the stomach. And the study’s researchers found that under those circumstances, the molecules in CBD did in fact break down into THC.

But later research contradicts their claim that CBD can convert to THC in the stomach. Numerous studies have shown that in natural digestive juices—such as when a person consumes a CBD-infused edible—CBD remains CBD and no traces of THC can be found.

These studies conclude that there’s no evidence that CBD can change into THC in either humans or animals, so there’s no need to worry that taking CBD may cause THC-like effects.

But solving the mystery of having heart palpitations after taking CBD products may take some detective work. Consuming other products that affect heart rate, such as caffeine, at the same time may play a role—so could certain medications.

The Answer Isn’t One Size Fits All

It’s also important to remember that CBD can affect people in different ways, and different products can have their own distinct effects. For example, tinctures enter the body quickly through the mucus membranes in the mouth, while edibles take much longer to work their way through the digestive system and into the bloodstream.

The relationship between CBD and the cardiovascular system is complicated, and scientists are still working to understand it. But the expanding body of research we have tells us that CBD in all its forms has powers to help, not harm, the heart.

Photo credit: eggeegg/Shutterstock.com

Want to try CBD, but don’t know where to start? Shop our selection of high-quality, lab-tested CBD products and have them shipped to your door. And if you have questions about CBD, ask them and our community will answer.

CBD and Heart Arrhythmia: What We Know So Far

The relationship between CBD and arrhythmia is somewhat complicated.

Contemporary scientific research shows that CBD has a potentially beneficial effect on arrhythmia, and on the cardiovascular system as a whole.

On the other hand, a small percentage of people experience an increased heart rate and heart palpitations when they use CBD, which are known symptoms of arrhythmia.

Before we get into more details of the research, let’s briefly explain arrhythmia.

Cardiac arrhythmia is a group of conditions characterized by an irregular heartbeat, where the heart either beats too rapidly or too slowly.

One of the main symptoms of arrhythmia are heart palpitations, which are characterized by increased awareness of the contraction of the heart, often accompanied by the hard and irregular beating of the heart.

Unlike CBD, which is non-psychoactive, THC (the most abundant psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant) is known to cause rapid heartbeat and heart palpitations.

This especially happens to novice users, but also if the user consumes too much THC at once.

Smoking Too Much Cannabis? Here’s How to Overcome It

This occurs because THC significantly lowers blood pressure, which causes the heart to pick up the pace and beat faster.

For a very large percentage of users, CBD doesn’t produce this effect but some people do experience irregular heartbeats and heart palpitations from consuming cannabidiol.

A good example of how rarely this happens is this 2019 study, which analyzed the effects of CBD on people suffering from chronic pain.

This research had 97 patients (30 to 65 years old), and only one of them experienced an increased heartbeat from using CBD.

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Patients were using two soft gels per day for 8 weeks, and each soft gel contained 15.7mg of CBD, and 0.5mg of THC.

The woman who experienced a rapid heartbeat reported that the treatment “made her heart race”.

The reasons behind this occurrence are still unknown, but if it happens to you, it’s important to understand the difference between CBD products.

Full-spectrum CBD products have a significant amount of THC, and other minor cannabinoids and terpenes are also present in these products.

If you’re especially sensitive to THC, these types of products can definitely induce a rapid heartbeat and palpitations.

Compared to full-spectrum products, broad-spectrum CBD products have a lesser amount of THC in them, and they also contain minor cannabinoids and terpenes.

Broad-spectrum products are far less likely to induce palpitations, although it’s still possible.

Finally, CBD isolates are the third type of CBD products. They only contain CBD, and nothing else. These products are least likely to cause a racing heart or palpitations.

Full Spectrum CBD vs CBD Isolate: Which Should You Choose?

It’s important to mention that CBD isolates are considered the least beneficial type of CBD products because cannabinoids work synergically in the body.

This synergistic cooperation of different cannabinoids is known as the entourage effect, because the presence of THC and other cannabinoids increases the health benefits of CBD.

Even though some users experience arrhythmia-like symptoms from CBD, an animal study from 2010 found that an acute administration of CBD suppressed ischaemia-induced arrhythmia.

Ischaemia is a restriction of blood to tissues, which causes a shortage of oxygen that is necessary for keeping tissues alive.

The researchers also stated that CBD reduced the size of infarction (tissue death), when it was given at reperfusion injury.

A 2013 review mentioned that current evidence suggests CBD has positive effects on the cardiovascular system, but that clinical research on human participants is required to determine if these positive effects will translate to the human cardiovascular system.

Finally, a 2018 review stated that cannabinoids appear as promising therapeutic agents for cardiovascular diseases.

Conclusion

Since the research on the effects of CBD on arrhythmia (and the cardiovascular system in general) is still in its starting phases, it probably isn’t wise to consume it for these purposes until more is known on the subject.

On the other hand, if you’re experiencing heart palpitations from CBD products, make sure to follow our guidelines regarding different types of CBD products.

If these heart-related symptoms persist, you can also consider lowering the dose or perhaps even discontinuing your CBD regimen.

CBD: What is it, and can it help the heart?

CBD is the latest health craze to sweep the high street, with claims it can help everything from chronic pain and inflammation to anxiety. But what is CBD, and can it really help the heart? Emily Ray finds out.

What is CBD, and is it legal in the UK?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical that’s extracted from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. Cannabis itself is an illegal class B drug, as is the compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which it contains. But pure CBD isn’t illegal, as it doesn’t cause the intoxicating effects of cannabis.

What CBD products are available?

The choice of CBD products has exploded recently: you can buy oils, capsules, muscle gels, sprays and oral drops, as well as beer, tea, sweets, hummus and even CBD-infused clothing.

Many of these can be easily picked up from reputable high street stores, such as Holland & Barrett or Boots.

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.

What is CBD used for?

A 2018 report by the World Health Organization suggested that CBD may help treat symptoms relating to conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), anxiety, depression, insomnia and Alzheimer’s disease.

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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.

CBD’s popularity has been given a boost by the fact that two CBD-containing medicines have been approved for prescription use by the NHS in England: Epidyolex, which has been found to reduce the number of seizures in children with severe epilepsy, and Sativex, which contains a mixture of CBD and THC, and is licensed for treatment of muscle stiffness and spasms in people with MS.

Does CBD work?

Harry Sumnall, Professor in Substance Use at Liverpool John Moores University, says: “In terms of the products found in shops, there’s virtually no evidence to support the claims made for a lot of them. There’s a lot of marketing that says CBD is a ‘miracle of the modern age’; however, the marketing has actually overtaken the evidence of what it’s effective for.”

“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

Professor Sumnall argues that while it could be effective for some people, in some of these cases the results could be caused by the placebo effect (where the patient’s belief in a treatment makes them feel better). The placebo effect can be powerful, but Professor Sumnall warns that if people try CBD oil instead of speaking to their doctor, it could cause a problem.

The biggest difference between CBD used in clinical trials and in stores is the dose. Research has shown that some products contain very little CBD (or even none at all). Others contain THC or other illegal drugs, or even alcohol instead of CBD. By contrast, in clinical trials the CBD is purified, manufactured to a very high standard and given at a much higher dose. It is also taken regularly and under medical supervision.

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.

But so far, Professor Sumnall points out, CBD products in shops are marketed as food supplements, not medicines, so none of them have gone through this process.

Can CBD help the heart?

Inflammation is part of the process that leads to many diseases, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, and there is some evidence that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. Other studies have suggested that CBD can have a protective effect on the heart: this has been proven in rats after a heart attack and in mice with some of the heart damage associated with diabetes. But because these studies are often based on findings in a lab or in animals, not in humans, we cannot yet be confident that CBD will benefit the human heart.

There is ongoing research into the use of purer forms of CBD for a variety of conditions, including heart and circulatory diseases and, in particular, diseases of the heart muscle, including myocarditis and some types of cardiomyopathy.

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.

“It’s clear that CBD has potential,” says Professor Sumnall, “but we’re at a very early stage of that research.”

  • Always talk to your doctor if you’re thinking about taking a CBD product to supplement your existing treatment.

Meet the expert

Harry Sumnall is a Professor in Substance Use at the Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University. He was a member of the UK Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs between 2011 and 2019.