Cannabis Consumption 101: A Racing Heart Is Normal

A frequently cited side effect of using Medical Cannabis is a racing heart. The side effect is pretty normal and, in most cases, nothing to worry about. Cannabis consumers with no history of heart disease are unlikely to experience anything more than an uncomfortable sensation for five or ten minutes.

That being said, what causes the racing heart? Research seems to suggest it is the THC. But as with all things relating to cannabis, people react differently. The way THC affects the heart is influenced by everything from frequency of use to individual metabolism.

If you experience a racing heart when you take your medicine, and it bothers you, do not be afraid to talk to your Qualified Medical Provider (QMP) or Pharmacy Medical Provider (PMP) about it. Either one should be able to answer your questions and offer you sound advice.

Cannabis and the Heart

The ways in which cannabis affects the body is directly related to how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. As the cannabinoids found in cannabis – like THC and CBD – bind to cannabinoid receptors throughout the central nervous system, they encourage the body to do certain things. In relation to a racing heart, it is believed that THC causes the blood vessels to dilate, increasing both blood flow and heart rate.

A number of studies over the years indicate that cannabis consumption can lead to something known as tachycardia. In plain language, tachycardia is an irregular heart rate that is too fast.

It is believed that smoking cannabis can increase heart rate by as little as 20% or as much is 100%. Science isn’t quite sure if dry heating or vaping produces the same kind of effect. However, data does suggest that consuming higher doses of THC can have the opposite effect: a drop in blood pressure that leaves a user feeling lightheaded or dizzy.

Uncomfortable But Not Dangerous

The good news in all of this is that cannabis-related tachycardia is not a serious concern. It is uncomfortable, but it’s not dangerous to most people. Medical Cannabis users don’t need to be concerned about it unless there is a history of cardiovascular disease.

If you are a patient and concerned about it, you have options. You might want to talk to a PMP about different products with varying THC levels. You also have the option of looking for medicines that combine lower doses of THC with moderate levels of CBD. Why? Because there is emerging evidence suggesting that CBD can counteract some of the uncomfortable side effects caused by THC.

If science eventually proves this to be the case, it could be because CBD interferes with how THC binds to cannabinoid receptors. It is just a hunch at this point, but it is being investigated. At any rate, choosing a product with both THC and CBD could alleviate the unpleasant sensation of a racing heart.

Don’t Let It Scare You

The point of bringing all this up is to let you know that the sensation of a racing heart is normal when you consume Medical Cannabis. We want you to be aware ahead of time so that you aren’t caught off guard. Please do not let a racing heart scare you away from the plant. It is a normal reaction to THC.

As always, talk to your QMP or PMP if you have any concerns. There are plenty of delivery methods, strains, and medical products to choose from. With a little help, you should be able to find a medicine that addresses your symptoms without making you feel extremely uncomfortable.

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Published March 1, 2022

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