FASEB J. 2022 May;36 Suppl 1. doi: 10.1096/fasebj.2022.36.S1.R4524.
A recent poll indicates that at least one third of Vermont state’s population has used hemp-based products such as Cannabidiol (CBD). This non-psychoactive compound is one of 700 chemicals derived from the Cannabis sativa plant and is both legal and widespread for distribution in the state of Vermont, however very little work has been done to investigate its physiological effects at recreationally-relevant doses. We hypothesized that in apparently healthy adults, acute CBD favorably affects the autonomic nervous system and that this would be evident by an increase in heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is a non-invasive method used to analyze autonomic balance. Though scientific studies are lacking, anecdotal reports of athletes self-administering CBD have indicated a positive effect on HRV. Using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, we examined a narrow age range of adults (average 20.9 ± 0.3 yrs), administered varying acute recreationally-relevant doses of CBD (0, 25mg, 50mg, 200mg), and characterized baseline cardiovascular variables (heart rate, blood pressure, HRV) at rest. Results indicate that such doses do not affect resting heart rate or blood pressure, however increasing dose appears to increase standard deviation of interbeat intervals (SDNN) and root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD). Such changes reflect an increase in HRV, indicative of elevated parasympathetic activity. This work contributes to the framework of understanding potential therapeutic uses and/or risk factors of CBD, particularly as it relates to healthy individuals.