In a study from National Taiwan University, scientists found a compound found in soybeans blocked damage to the lining of blood vessels in the heart and circulatory system and may someday provide a way to prevent the heart side effects of recreational and medical marijuana use.
Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug worldwide and is increasingly being made legal for recreational and medicinal purposes.
However, there have been studies that link marijuana smoking to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
There can also be cardiovascular side effects, including changes in heart rate and blood pressure.
When people take FDA-approved medications containing a synthetic version of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the main compound in marijuana that gives the sensation of being high, they may get side effects.
The effects of THC occur after it binds to one of two cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) that are found throughout the brain and body and are also acted on by naturally occurring cannabinoids.
In the current study, the researchers used endothelial cells (like those that line blood vessels) derived from the stem cells of five healthy people. Exposing the cells to THC, they found that:
THC exposure induced inflammation and oxidative stress, which are known to affect the inner linings of blood vessels and are associated with the development of heart disease.
Lab techniques that block access to the CB1 receptor by THC eliminated the effects of THC exposure on endothelial cells.
Treatment with JW-1, an antioxidant compound found in soybeans, eliminated the effects of THC exposure.
In addition, the researchers used a laboratory technique called wire myography to examine the response of mouse arteries to THC, finding that JW-1 blocked THC’s negative effects on the function of the inner lining.
An earlier attempt to gain health benefits from blocking the CB1 receptor proved problematic.
The researchers are currently extending their research by testing cells derived from regular marijuana users and those who smoke both cigarettes and marijuana.
In addition, they are looking at the impact of THC along with the other main component of marijuana, cannabidiol.
The team suggests that people with heart disease should talk to doctors about using marijuana or one of the synthetic THC-containing medications.
Marijuana may cause more severe effects on the cardiovascular system in those with pre-existing heart disease.
If you care about cannabis, please read studies about cannabis linked to 3-times higher death risk in high blood pressure, and cannabis flower can treat this common health problem.
For more information about wellness, please see recent studies about how depression drugs treat nerve pain, and results showing drinking electrolytes, not water, may help reduce muscle pain.
The study was conducted by Tzu-Tan “Thomas” Wei et al.
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