Cannabis-based products are no longer just for consumers struggling with cancer or other serious medical conditions. In fact, recent studies have found that many older adults have started using cannabis as a means of treating more traditional health care concerns.
Now, researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have found that cannabis could play a role in helping older adults lower their blood pressure.
“Older adults are the fastest-growing group of medical cannabis users, yet evidence on cardiovascular safety for this population is scarce,” said researcher Dr. Ran Abuhasira. “This study is part of our ongoing effort to provide clinical research on the actual physiological effects of cannabis over time.”
Blood pressure improvements
To put cannabis to the test, the researchers had 26 participants all over the age of 60 involved in the study. The participants used cannabis for three months, and the researchers compared vital measurements -- blood tests, blood pressure readings, and ECG -- from the start of the study with results at the end of the experiment.
The researchers learned that the effects of using cannabis occurred pretty quickly. Within just three hours of cannabis use, the participants recorded their lowest blood pressure readings. Overall, the researchers found that both systolic and diastolic readings were lower after the participants used cannabis long-term. On average, systolic readings dropped by 5 mmHg after cannabis use while diastolic readings were roughly 4.5 mmHg lower.
Another key finding came from the increase in participants who experienced a healthy dip in their blood pressure readings at night. The researchers explained that when the body is functioning normally, blood pressure should be about 10 to 20 percent lower at night than what it is during the day. At the start of the study, just over 27 percent of the participants were experiencing a healthy dip in blood pressure; however, after using cannabis, more than 45 percent of the participants were experiencing that healthy dip in blood pressure.
As more and more states are legalizing cannabis use, it’s important for the medical benefits to be clearly communicated. The researchers hope that these findings provide insight into how cannabis can be used to achieve better health outcomes.