MMJ vs Atherosclerosis and Heart Disease

Atherosclerosis is a complex inflammatory disease that plays a significant role in the development of heart disease and stroke. In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death and claims more lives than cancer. We typically think heart disease and stroke can hit without warning; actually, these diseases develop gradually over time. 

Atherosclerosis is characterized by progressive deposition of atherosclerotic plaques (immune cells laden with oxidized low-density lipoproteins/Ox-LDL) followed by the narrowing of blood vessels (arteries) and impaired blood supply to vital organs, such as the heart and brain. Subsequently, inflammation in the intimal regions of the arteries occurs as a result of uncontrolled immunological injury and formation of free radicals. Sedentary lifestyle and bad dietary habits can worsen the disease. The existing treatments are moderately effective, albeit with side effects. 

The discovery of endocannabinoids and their functional roles in the brain and other parts of the body has had tremendous implications in medical science. Cannabinoid receptors are widely present all over the cardiovascular system and that’s the reason researchers believe the endocannabinoid system might play a key role in the regulation of blood circulation and cardiac functions. 

Expression of CB2 receptors in the cardiovascular system, such as myocardial cells, blood vessels and smooth muscle cells, are now confirmed. 

Studies have reported variations in the expression of CB2 receptors in carotid artery plaques among stroke and asymptomatic patients. Therefore, CB2 receptor expression and signaling appears to be a protective response against acute and chronic pathological events. Additionally, the protective role of CB2 receptors has been documented in various events of atherosclerosis, including restenosis, myocardial ischemia and cerebral ischemia or reperfusion injury

Studies are now zeroing in on biologically active molecules that influence the cannabinoid system, particularly phytocannabinoids. These studies preferentially employed cannabidiol (CBD) as it lacks psychoactive effects.  

Due to ongoing research studies, the therapeutic role of cannabinoids in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, is now recognized.

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