Last Updated on August 14, 2022 by Heally
If you have a pre-existing condition and are thinking about utilizing cannabis, there are a few things you should consider before lighting up. Although Google and your local budtender may have great ideas about what you should do, the best option is to speak with a doctor. Although cannabis is generally safe to consume for most people, some conditions could be impacted by the way cannabis increases heart rate, blood pressure, and present psychotropic effects. Here are 4 conditions that require a doctor’s opinion.
What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular disease, also known as Heart Disease, generally refers to conditions that involve blocked or narrowed blood vessels that can cause chest pain, lead to a heart attack, or result in stroke. The term, Heart Disease, also includes other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm.
How does Cannabis impact Cardiovascular Disease?
According to Harvard Health, cannabinoids and the cardiovascular system have a complex relationship. It goes on to suggest that patients with established heart disease develop chest pain quicker under stress if they have been smoking cannabis, than if they had not. This may be due to the fact that cannabis has been seen to raise resting heart rate, dilate blood vessels, and make the heart pump harder.
The studies conducted did not conclude if cannabis use, in general, was detrimental to the cardiovascular system, or if the irritants and carcinogens contained in the smoke were the cause for potential hazards. Although cannabis will not cause a heart attack in a healthy person, someone with cardiovascular disease may be at risk of heart attack after inhaling cannabis smoke due to the decrease in oxygen delivery to the heart.
What to Do:
Because of the contrasting results of the effects of cannabinoids on the cardiovascular system, it is difficult to make clear cut statements about cannabis and heart disease. For some patients the effects may be beneficial or benign, for others, it could be dangerous. Because of this, it is important to consult with a doctor before utilizing cannabis.
What is Insomnia?
People suffering from the sleep disorder, Insomnia, have difficulty falling and staying asleep, and may feel exhausted when they wake up from sleeping. If you’ve ever experienced a sleepless night or worse, several nights without quality sleep, you’re aware that it can zap energy levels, impact work performance, strain relationships, and cause health issues. For people who have insomnia, this is a constant struggle, making life difficult to manage often causing symptoms of depression.
How does Cannabis impact Insomnia?
One study suggests that 15 milligrams of THC produces sedative effects, while 15 mg CBD appears to have alerting properties. CBD increased awake activity during sleep (so if you’re looking for rest, stick with THC) and even counteracted the sedative effects of 15 mg THC. Cannabis and/or THC causes grogginess, dry mouth, and can increase heart rate. Typically, purple or afghani varieties deliver relaxing, sleep-inducing effects.
What to do:
Cannabis strains can deliver different effects ranging from feeling alert and creative to feeling relaxed and sleepy. When you start your search, identifying a strain that contains relaxing terpenes and low amounts of THC may be helpful. As mentioned in Healthline, Dr. Jordan Tishler, a Harvard-trained physician and cannabis therapeutics specialist, recommends a strain with less than 20 percent THC. Dosing becomes difficult with anything more than that, he says. Too much THC might make you feel groggy and sleepy the next morning.
The results of cannabis and sleep studies have yielded mixed results with some studies showing that cannabis may impair the ability to sleep properly if the dose is too high. Some doctors recommend utilizing forms of consumption other than smoking (tincture, patch, etc.), to reduce the hazards associated with particulates from smoke. Also, keep in mind that different consumption methods impact you at different rates of time, also known as the dose-response curve. Plan your dose prior to bedtime to allow for it to kick in before you go to sleep.
The true way to find the right dose and strain for you is by speaking with a doctor, and some guided trial and error. Sleep disorders don’t have a one-time-cure. Like most disorders, keeping a journal to track your cannabis-use and sleep may help your doctor to determine the next steps to find the right balance.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an autoimmune disease and chronic inflammatory condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract of an estimated 1.6 million American’s. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of unknowns about what causes Inflammatory Bowel Disease and what may cure it.
Unlike a healthy immune system, with IBD, the immune system improperly responds to environmental triggers resulting in inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. This process is called immune reactivity, and if the body is reacting to cells in the body that are not intruders from outside the body but are the body’s own cells, this is called “autoimmune” reactivity. Autoimmune responses like this appear to be genetically passed down to offspring.
Major conditions that fit within the description of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. With Crohn’s Disease, inflammation appears to affect different areas of the GI tract which range from the mouth to the anus and may reach through the multiple layers of the walls of the GI tract. Ulcerative Colitis is the occurrence of Inflammation present only in the innermost layer of the lining of the colon, typically in the large intestine.
Similarly, Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS) and Celiac’s disease have a lot of the same symptoms including cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and/or constipation; however they do not fit within the category of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. To read more about the differences between IBS and IBD, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation has created a helpful guide.
How does Cannabis impact IBD?
Due to the inflammatory nature of IBD, the anti-inflammatory nature of cannabis may be a perfect fit. According to a recent placebo-controlled study, they saw a decrease in the Crohn’s Diseases activity index in 10 out of 11 subjects who consumed cannabis, compared to just 4 out of 10 subjects who consumed the placebo. Complete remission was achieved in 5 of 11 subjects in the cannabis group and 1 of 10 in the placebo group.
Although there have been positive anecdotal reports on the effects of cannabis on IBD, there are few controlled studies. However, these results have scientists suggesting the pair be researched further.
What to do:
Aside from an adjustment to diet (See the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol or AIP diet), the evidence is mounting that supporting the endocannabinoid system with cannabinoids may have beneficial impacts on the gastrointestinal system. Due to the hundreds of cannabinoids in cannabis that bind to the same receptors in the brain as the gastrointestinal tract, it’s possible that regulation of those endocannabinoids could impact the gastrointestinal tract.
Research needs to be done to establish the specific cannabinoids, optimal dose, and mode of administration to maximize the beneficial effects of cannabinoid-use while avoiding any potential harmful effects. Look for strains known for their pain-relieving terpenes, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiolytic properties. Leafly created a great list of strains for IBD symptoms here. Try other routes for consumption outside of smoking to see how delivery methods impact the success of the medicine.
Cannabis has the potential to be a useful tool for many conditions, however, Heally doctors advise not to expect overnight relief from cannabis-based treatments. Like most treatments or diet changes, consistency can be just as important as any other aspect of the medicine. It’s important to follow the dosage instructions and protocol for consumption you’ve developed with your doctor.
By Bri Smith
This website is informational and cannot diagnose or treat illness or disease. Medical marijuana aka cannabis should be used under the direction of a licensed healthcare provider. This site is intended for adults and legal medical marijuana patients. This site contains links to products we sell on our marketplace.
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Creating an account is easy, free, and safe in our HIPAA compliant platform. Visit with a doctor from the comfort of your home or on the go using your cell phone or computer. No appointment is necessary. If the physician thinks cannabis is right for your health and wellness goals, they will discuss treatment options and will grant you a downloadable certification document. Heally’s Telehealth platform currently serves California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio with medical recommendations. Please note there’s no charge if the doctor doesn’t believe the video visit meets her or his standard of care.