A marijuana-like substance that occurs naturally in the body may play a significant role in lowering blood pressure, according to research published in the new issue of Nature Medicine.
Researchers at the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse report that the endogenous cannabinoid known as anandamide acts on the blood vessel walls to cause dilation and allow blood to flow more freely. In animal studies, scientists found an association between rats with elevated levels of anandamide and low blood pressure. Researchers raised blood pressure in test subjects by blocking the effects of anandamide.
Scientists said that the findings may offer new approaches for treating patients with advanced cirrhosis, who often suffer from high blood pressure and ruptured blood vessels.
"This preliminary research indicates that marijuana and cannabinoids may someday play a role in the treatment of a range of cardiovascular diseases," NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup said.
Currently, between 10 and 20 percent of Americans suffer from hypertension.
For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500.