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How Marijuana Consumption Benefits Your Heart

Heart diseases are a serious problem in the US. According to statistics, one out of four deaths in the country can be attributed to any form of heart disease, with coronary heart disease being the most common cause of death. To make things worse, the number seems to keep getting bigger – about 785,000 Americans suffer their first coronary attack every year.

Heart health issues don't just affect individuals but the country as a whole. Heart diseases cost over $100 billion in terms of medical expenses and lost revenue due to sufferers being unable to work. The prevalence of heart diseases has become such a common threat that many people believe that getting a heart disease is not a matter of "if" but "when".

While there are treatment options for heart diseases, many of these come in the form of expensive medication. Aside from being expensive, some of these solutions might also be accompanied by unwanted side effects. However, there may be hope for people suffering from heart disease in the form of an interesting solution: cannabis or marijuana.

An Intro to Cannabis

Medical cannabis or marijuana is obtained from the cannabis plant, hence its name. The cannabinoids or the substances that make cannabis medically relevant are found in any part of the plant, but they are mostly concentrated on the flowers and trim leaves. Depending on the form of the product, cannabis can be consumed in the following ways:

  • Smoking - The leaves of the cannabis plant are dried, rolled, and burned to create the smoke which will be inhaled by the user. Some of the common ways to consume cannabis via smoking involve using joints, pipes, or bongs.
  • Topical - The extracted cannabis oil can be applied directly to the skin or mixed with other substances to create salves or creams.
  • Edibles - Cannabis oil can also be used as an ingredient for a wide variety of pastries and traditional dishes.

Although cannabis is mostly associated with smoking, many experts recommend consuming it through the use of cannabis oil. Using cannabis oil does not produce pollutants and irritants, plus this liquid extract can be precisely dosed to fit the need of the user. This makes cannabis oil an ideal form of medical cannabis for people who are suffering from allergies, asthmas, and respiratory conditions. In addition, cannabis oil can also be formulated to have specific THC to CBD ratios, which play an important part in how marijuana affects the body. What exactly are THC and CBD and how do these two substances make medical marijuana an effective solution against heart diseases?

Cannabinoids and the ECS

The cannabis plant contains active chemical compounds called cannabinoid. While there are dozens of cannabinoids in any given strain of cannabis plant, there are 2 particular compounds that stand out for medical researchers: THC and CBD.

THC or tetrahydrocannabinol was first discovered in the 1960s. The compound was linked to the common effects of marijuana that made the plant such a popular recreational drug: heightened senses, a sense of euphoria, and the psychoactive effect of "feeling high". However, it has also been shown to relieve inflammation and help reduce pain.

CBD or cannabidiol was identified earlier than THC, but the discovery of how it actually works compared to THC was groundbreaking. As it turns out, CBD has nearly the same chemical composition as THC but the compound works in a completely different manner. It has been shown to reduce seizures, relax muscles and dull painful sensations just like THC. More importantly, it also helped counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.

To understand how THC and CBD work, it's important to first become familiar with the body's ECS or endocannabinoid system. The ECS is a set of cell receptors and molecular compounds that act like trigger switches. There are two types of cell receptors known as CB1 and CB2 in this system. When certain molecular compounds called endocannabinoids reach these two receptors, their interaction triggers a specific set of reactions.

The endocannabinoids naturally found in the human body bear a similar structure to the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Depending on which cell receptors are activated by the compounds, the ECS can affect different aspects of the body such as sensitivity, appetite, sleepiness, muscle tension, and even inflammation.

When marijuana is consumed, THC and CBD function just like the naturally-occurring endocannabinoids found in the human body. These cannabinoids trigger the CB1 and CB2 receptors, causing the body to feel the effects commonly associated with using marijuana.

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How Marijuana Helps People with Heart Disease

You already know how marijuana works, but why is it so good for people with heart diseases? The answer lies in the beneficial effects of THC and CBD and how they counteract the symptoms commonly associated with heart diseases. Although marijuana’s effects can vary depending on the severity of the disease and the amount of cannabinoids in each dosage, you can generally expect positive effects.

The most significant component of heart disease is the chest pain associated with it. The pain and accompanying pressure can prevent a person from performing basic tasks if it is severe enough. The THC in marijuana has been found to reduce the painful sensations, with many users claiming that marijuana in their preferred form has helped reduce, if not completely relieve the pain in their chest.

Heart diseases not only affect the heart, they can also manifest in the vascular system. Blocked or damaged blood vessels can inhibit blood flow and force the heart to compensate for the poor blood circulation. THC and CBD have been shown to increase blood pressure, which might seem counterproductive for a person suffering from a heart disease. However, the said increase in blood pressure is also accompanied by the dilation of the blood vessels, making it easier for blood to circulate.

Marijuana may also play a key role in preventing further heart attacks from happening. According to research, marijuana also works as a preventative solution for heart conditions. Regular use of marijuana (at least once a day) improves a person's regular blood flow. This means consuming marijuana even if you're not frequently experiencing heart problems will still yield long-term benefits.

Consuming marijuana also helps prevent stress and other factors that indirectly lead to heart attacks. For example, stress often triggers increased blood pressure, which raises one’s risk for heart attack. Stress, in turn, may be triggered by something else such as discomfort caused by inflammation or lack of rest. Consuming marijuana can positively affect each of these triggers.

  • THC helps reduce inflammation from injuries or irritations.
  • CBD helps relax muscles that are suffering from muscle tension.
  • Both can trigger a sense of euphoria that can lighten up a person's morale and reduce stress levels.
  • CBD can help people calm down and sleep better.

With such a multi-stage approach to preventing heart attacks, it's no wonder that a lot of people want to try supplementing their medication with medical marijuana. Also, people who are prone to circulatory and heart diseases add marijuana to their lifestyle in order to do away with the unwanted side effects of their maintenance medicines. To some, constant dizziness, headaches, and nausea -- all of which are common side effects of some heart medications -- stand in the way of living independently.

Making the Switch to Marijuana

Consuming marijuana can be a big step for first-timers. Before purchasing any type of marijuana, it is highly recommended that you first seek the advice of a medical professional who can inform you of how you can best use the plant to positively affect your health. Next, talk to a representative of a dispensary and ask which strains of marijuana have higher amounts of THC or CBD. You’ll have a better idea of how certain marijuana products affect your body if you pay special attention to the THC to CBD ratio in the product packaging.

Take care not to eat too much edibles as this can cause you to have a high that is too potent to be enjoyed. Overdosing on marijuana can cause you to feel anxiety and paranoia for a few hours and add stress to your heart. Although you may be tempted to consume as much marijuana as possible for instant relief, it's much better to start out with small, controlled doses. If you’re taking marijuana in the form of edibles, wait for 30 minutes to 2 hours for the effects to kick in and add small increments until you get your desired results.

Consuming marijuana has a side effect called "the munchies" that may increase your appetite and compel you to eat snacks. It's safe to eat after consuming marijuana, so feel free to have a few snacks on hand. Make sure your selection is composed of healthy items that are low in bad fat and cholesterol.

When looking for marijuana, you might encounter the terms "top-shelf", "middle-shelf", and "bottom-shelf" which refer to the quality of the item. These labels are more prominently used on marijuana buds. Although bottom-shelf marijuana is cheap, experts recommend getting only middle and top-shelf marijuana because bottom shelf products may have impurities that can cause more harm than good. Extracting oil from top and middle shelf marijuana is also a lot easier and yields higher quality oil. Always choose to buy from certified marijuana distributors; buying from illegal dealers could get you in serious legal trouble!

You also have to be careful when it comes to sharing your marijuana. While many states already allow the consumption of marijuana for medicinal purposes, there are many areas where sharing the drug for recreational purposes is still prohibited. Make sure that the people you are sharing your edibles with know what is in the edible and fully and freely consent to eating them. Be aware of the rules and regulations in an area before deciding to bring some marijuana with you, and make sure you have the right documents to back up your need for medical marijuana.

Marijuana - Beyond Heart Disease

You don't need to suffer from heart disease just to be able to benefit from marijuana. As discussed earlier, there are plenty of other medical issues that can be relieved by using the plant. In fact, marijuana is a well-known medical option for people suffering from psychological problems such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression. Many users claim to have improved their mental health after regularly using cannabis.

Marijuana has also been used as a salve for treating open wounds and sores. Marijuana-infused creams contain antibacterial properties while the cannabinoids help prevent swelling around the damaged area and reduce the pain from the injury. Using marijuana for wound treatment has been documented as far back as the ancient times.

Last but not least, consuming marijuana can be considered a social activity. Many marijuana users meet up and share ideas on how the drug has helped them with their troubles. More importantly, marijuana can help reduce the effects of social anxiety. 

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The Future of Marijuana

There are still a lot of things that we don't know about marijuana. Even the effects of THC and CBD on the human body have not been fully explored by scientists, and that's not even counting the potential of other cannabinoids found in the plant. As the public becomes more aware of the benefits of marijuana, there will be more support for research that could potentially lead to groundbreaking discoveries in the future. Given enough time and research, it would be possible to create more effective marijuana products.

Increased public awareness of marijuana also plays an important part in the continued legalization of the plant. The more people understand the benefits of the drug, the more progressive laws can be enacted. Who knows, maybe a few years from now marijuana will be widely accepted as a versatile medical solution and finally shed its history of being associated with teenage delinquency.