Heart arrhythmias cause the heart to beat at an irregular rate. Medication for heart rhythm disorders does not work for everyone, and some people experience unpleasant side effects. Those who prefer more natural remedies may wonder about using cannabidiol (CBD) for heart arrhythmia. However, there is no conclusive research showing that cannabidiol can treat heart arrhythmias.
Some preliminary studies suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) could help regulate heart rhythms. The problem is that many studies on the topic have looked at animals, not humans, and there have not been rigorous, well-controlled human studies conclusively showing a benefit.
Some research also suggests that there may be higher rates of heart problems among cannabis users. Cannabis contains hundreds of compounds, including an abundance of THC, which is responsible for the intoxicating effects of cannabis. Hemp-derived CBD products contain very tiny amounts of THC, however, so the heart problems associated with cannabis use may not apply to hemp-derived CBD products.
While there is no evidence of risk of CBD to the heart, there is also no evidence that CBD is a safer alternative to better-tested options like surgery and prescription medication.
Keep reading to learn more about CBD for heart arrhythmia, including a discussion of potential risks, information about the possible effects of CBD on the heart, and some other alternative treatments for heart arrhythmia.
Heart arrhythmias range from mostly harmless to potentially life-threatening, and affect at least 2% of the population.
A small number of studies suggest that CBD might help with heart arrhythmias. None of these studies offers conclusive data, though, and there is no evidence supporting CBD as an alternative to more traditional treatments.
In a study on rats, researchers gave the animals CBD either before cutting off the blood supply in their coronary arteries, or after doing so, before then restoring the blood supply. Cutting off the blood supply induced arrhythmias. Researchers found that administering CBD to the rats before cutting off the blood supply reduced the number of arrhythmias and cardiovascular blockages.
Other studies have reached similar conclusions, causing CBD advocates to conclude either that CBD can protect against heart arrhythmias or treat them. However, there is no evidence from any studies on humans that shows CBD can stop arrhythmias or other serious heart issues.
Like the research on heart arrhythmias, the research on other potential CBD benefits for heart health is not conclusive.
A small 2017 study of nine males found that a dose of CBD could reduce blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure dropped by an average of six points. However, a 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis found no significant effects of CBD on blood pressure or heart rate in normal circumstances. In stressful situations, the analysis suggested CBD might reduce both.
There is some evidence from animal studies that CBD might improve blood flow or reduce the size of blockages in the cardiovascular system, potentially helping to treat heart attacks and strokes. Researchers do not know how or why this happens, or whether the same benefits might exist in humans.
However, there is an important distinction between the CBD used in studies and that which is available to consumers. CBD available in stores without a prescription may not have the same potency as CBD used in studies, and may include other ingredients which could affect the potential health effects of CBD. There is no evidence that commercially available CBD products improve heart health, especially since there is a wide range of potencies and ingredients in these products.
The main risk of using CBD to treat heart arrhythmias is that some research shows a correlation between cannabis use and heart rhythm issues. A 2021 study of 2,457,544 hospitalizations found that people hospitalized for cannabis use disorders were more likely to have heart arrhythmias, and were more likely to die during their hospitalization.
However, the study looked at cannabis as a whole, not just CBD, which is just one of hundreds of components of cannabis. Other compounds in cannabis, such as THC, might be the reason behind any heart rhythm issues. Furthermore, these individuals studied were hospitalized for dependency on cannabis/THC and were not casual users. Thus it is impossible to know whether CBD use would be dangerous in the same way.
Perhaps most importantly, the study did not establish a causal relationship between cannabis use and heart arrhythmias, only a correlation. It is possible that some other factor cannabis users share in common explains their higher rate of arrhythmias.
Another risk of using CBD is that it might cause a person to forego more mainstream treatments, such as heart rhythm medication. There is no evidence that CBD is a viable substitute either for medication or for heart-healthy lifestyle changes.
For most people, CBD is relatively safe with few side effects, so it may be safe to use as an adjunct to proven treatments. However, there are some risks, including:
- liver damage, especially in people with liver disease
- interactions with other drugs (especially drugs that carry a grapefruit warning)
- excessive fatigue or sleepiness
Learn more about the differences between CBD and THC here.
The right treatment for heart arrhythmias depends on the cause. But in many cases, underlying heart disease or high blood pressure contribute to the problem or increase the risk of serious complications. The following natural remedies may help:
- Eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking to excess.
- Getting more exercise.
- Stopping using stimulants such as caffeine.
- Treating insomnia and other sleep problems to support healthier nighttime rest.
- Treating underlying health conditions such as diabetes.
- Avoiding added sugars, highly processed foods, and trans fats. Some research shows that a Mediterranean diet may be especially beneficial.
- Finding ways to manage stress. Yoga can help both with becoming more physically active and handling stress.
- Maintaining or reaching a healthy body weight.
For people with serious heart disease or arrhythmias that endanger their health, it may still be necessary to take medication while waiting for lifestyle remedies to work.
Learn more about remedies for heart palpitations here.
CBD users have claimed a wide range of benefits, from mundane changes like better skin to seemingly miraculous changes such as shrinking tumors. The research on CBD has not caught up to these claims. Moreover, many CBD studies have been on animals, not humans.
It is possible researchers will find more benefits to CBD as more and better research becomes available. For now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved CBD only for two rare seizure disorders called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet Syndrome.
Researchers are currently investigating the use of CBD for:
- reducing inflammation, especially in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
- easing chronic pain
- treating addiction to drugs like opioids
- managing dementia
- addressing mood disorder such as anxiety or depression
- decreasing the size of certain tumors
- treating psychosis in schizophrenia
Learn more about the uses of CBD oil here.
For now, there is little compelling data suggesting that CBD can treat heart arrhythmias. Replacing traditional treatments with CBD may be dangerous because it means a person will not get the treatment they need.
That said, initial research in animals suggests that CBD may benefit people experiencing heart arrhythmias. However large rigorous studies on humans must take place before said evidence becomes solid.
People may wish to use CBD as a complement to other treatments for heart arrhythmia.
CBD can interact with various medications, and people should contact a doctor before adding it to a treatment regimen.