More people than ever are signing up to get their “green card” for medical marijuana. Especially older people who grapple with anxiety, pain, or insomnia.
But the science tells us that smoking marijuana is just plain dangerous. Even among casual users! In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) just issued a very serious warning about the effect of marijuana on the heart…
Long history of causing heart problems
Here in the U.S., we have very little clinical trial data on the effect of marijuana on the heart. That’s because you cannot conduct a clinical trial with volunteers using a drug that’s banned by federal law.
We do, however, have data from hospitals when users end up being admitted for medical problems. And for years, hospitals in the U.S. and Europe have reported increases in admissions involving marijuana. For example, Colorado was one of the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. And since it’s legalization, emergency room visits relating to the drug have skyrocketed by 300 percent!
In many cases, these emergencies involve serious cardiovascular events. Here’s why…
According to the AHA, marijuana affects the body in ways that harm the heart. In particular, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana—interacts with receptors that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system.
In other words, it triggers your body’s “fight–or–flight” stress response, which makes your heart beat too rapidly and/or irregularly (arrythmia). Marijuana also constricts your blood vessels, which raises blood pressure. Of course, some people try to chalk this up to feeling paranoid, after use. But rest assured, things are happening inside of your body—even when feeling “relaxed.”
So, over time, prolonged use increases your risk of suffering a heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. In fact, in actual human studies, marijuana users are twice as likely to suffer cardiac arrest as non-users!
It’s also much more harmful than cigarette smoking…
Smoking marijuana poses particular dangers
I personally think some of marijuana’s unique dangers also relate to the Valsalva maneuver…the particular way in which people inhale and deeply hold the smoke in their breath. This maneuver traps carbon dioxide and combustion products, like carbon monoxide, in the lungs, and raises pressure in the chest, which interferes with blood supply to the heart.
According to the AHA, smoking marijuana increases the concentration of carbon monoxide in your blood by 500 percent. (This deadly poison has been associated with heart problems such as abnormal heart beats, chest pain, and heart attacks.)
Robert L. Page, chair of the group that authored the AHA warning, said we should all remember that marijuana is, “just like any other medication…[all medications] have side effects, and some of those side effects can be cardiovascular, and we’re still trying to figure that out with cannabis.”
That’s good advice, indeed, from Dr. Page. (The name Robert Page made me think of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of the musical group Led Zeppelin. As I recall, one of them suffered a mysterious stroke at a relatively young age. Based on these new findings, one wonders why?)
Marijuana gets a free pass, while they totally condemn tobacco
It always amazes me how the politically correct are so quick to condemn cigarette and cigar smoking, yet they never talk about the ill effects of marijuana. That absence of logic reminds me of a line from “Song of Myself,” by the American poet Walt Whitman:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
Well, we should never assume that the politically correct health prescriptions for the “multitudes”—or the masses—are based on science. (You can tell which way the political winds blow, so to speak, by following all the marijuana smoke.)
The fact is, heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of disease and death in this country. And I wouldn’t expect a change in that statistic any time soon, as more and more states legalize the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana.
Find safer ways to reduce stress and pain
As you might have guessed, there has been a huge uptick in marijuana use since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. And that increase relates directly to the nationwide lockdowns that limited or cut off access to safe, effective, non-drug approaches to deal with stress, anxiety, and pain. All in the midst of a very real opioid drug epidemic.
Just remember, as I mentioned on Monday, you can improve your mood, ease anxiety, and reduce pain…without resorting to marijuana or any other harmful drug. I suggest trying out some relaxing, mind-body approaches—such as acupuncture, massage, and yoga—that support your heart health as well as your overall well-being. (See my books Your Emotional Type and Overcoming Acute and Chronic Pain: Keys to Treatment Based on Your Emotional Type for more about using these approaches)
Plus, there are many natural approaches to preventing and fighting heart disease. And you can learn all about them in my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. For more information about this innovative online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now.
“Cannabis‐Related ED Visits Rise in States With Legalized Use.” Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP), 25th Annual Meeting, (ibhinc.org) December 2014
“Cannabis-related ER visits in Colorado jump threefold after legalization, study says.” CNN, 3/26/19 (cnn.com/2019/03/25/health/edible-cannabis-emergency-visit-study/index.html)
“Marijuana Is Not Heart-Healthy Experts Say.” Health Day News, 8/5/20. (consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/marijuana-news-759/marijuana-is-not-heart-healthy-experts-say-760145.html