While many patients and caregivers are familiar with the most common side effects of medical weed, such as giddiness and hunger, most are unaware of the beneficial effect of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as a vasodilator, which influences the treatment of several conditions, including glaucoma.
What Is a Vasodilator
A vasodilator is any substance that causes vasodilation, which is the widening of your blood vessels to improve blood flow to other parts of your body, such as your heart. While vasodilation also occurs naturally within the body, such as when you’re feeling faint, vasodilators are a part of modern medicine.
For example, you can treat high blood pressure with vasodilators — by expanding your blood vessels, your blood pressure decreases. Unlike prescription medications, however, medical cannabis is a natural vasodilator that interacts with your body’s receptors to initiate vasodilation.
Why Medical Cannabis Acts as a Vasodilator
Due to federal and state laws, it’s difficult for researchers to provide a specific answer as to why medical cannabis acts as a vasodilator. Like many of its effects, however, scientists believe it’s tied to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which features cell receptors that bind with cannabinoids, like THC, to create a reaction.
As an example, consider this interaction of the ECS and cannabinoids in pain management. You consume medical marijuana, such as through smoking, and your body begins to process the medical weed. During that process, cannabinoids activate ECS receptors throughout your body to regulate reactions, such as chronic pain.
How Medical Marijuana-Induced Vasodilation Treats Conditions
Because of limited research opportunities, scientists are aware of only some of the instances where medical marijuana-induced vasodilation treats conditions and helps patients resume their daily lives or regain a sense of normalcy in their day-to-day activities.
Conditions that respond well to vasodilation include:
- Glaucoma: A primary side effect of glaucoma is pressure. Due to the ineffective drainage of fluid, eye pressure builds up, which can lead to blindness from optic nerve damage. With the natural vasodilation of medical weed and supportive lifestyle changes, intraocular pressure can decrease to a manageable level — and without the severe side effects of prescription treatments.
- High Blood Pressure: As the name reveals, high blood pressure or hypertension involves the increased demand placed on your heart and arteries to pump blood throughout your body. Like glaucoma, many patients use medical pot as a vasodilator and complement to their treatment plan, which will likely include diet and exercise.
- Nail-Patella Syndrome: One symptom of nail-patella syndrome is glaucoma. By incorporating medical marijuana into your treatment plan, you can lower your blood pressure by natural means, which will then offset and manage your intraocular pressure. As medical pot treats several other side effects of nail-patella syndrome, like chronic pain, it delivers a multi-faceted treatment plan.
With more research, scientists expect to discover additional beneficial uses of medical weed as a vasodilator.
Benefits of Medical Weed-Induced Vasodilation
Incorporating medical weed into your treatment plan for its role as a vasodilator offers several benefits, including:
- A more natural and effective approach
- Fast- or long-acting medicating options
- Strains that ease multiple symptoms
- Fewer and less severe side effects than prescription drugs
If you’re considering using medical pot because it’s a vasodilator, talk to your medical marijuana doctor first.
Learn More About Medical Cannabis and Vasodilation
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