Cannabis, heart disease and a soy-derived supplement that may help

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Scientists believe that a particular supplement may help reduce the risk of heart disease from cannabis use. Cappi Thompson/Getty Images
  • Cannabis is a plant with many compounds that have both recreational and medicinal uses.
  • There are many unknowns about the health risks and benefits associated with cannabis use, particularly its impact on the heart and blood vessels.
  • A new study has found that cannabis use may increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack, but a supplement called genistein may help mitigate those risks.

Researchers are still learning about the health effects of cannabis. Cannabis derivatives can have many health benefits. However, researchers are still learning to balance these positive aspects with the potential health risks.

A recent study published in the journal Cell examined the adverse cardiovascular effects of cannabis and found a particular impact on cardiovascular health.

However, researchers have also found that the compound genistein can help reduce these harmful effects.

Cannabis use is becoming increasingly popular, especially for recreational purposes. But researchers are still looking to uncover all the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the compound in cannabis that produces mind alterations and impaired mental functioning. Specifically, the main compound that causes these effects is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC). In contrast, the compound cannabidiol (CBD) in cannabis does not cause this type of deficiency.

Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Epidiolex, which contains CBD. People can use this medication as a treatment for seizures. The FDA has also approved the use of two drugs containing synthetic THC: Marinol and Syndros. Both of these drugs can control nausea and stimulate appetite.

However, in addition to the benefits, cannabis has also been linked to risk for the health. One area of ​​particular interest is the potential association between cannabis and cardiovascular problems.

When asked to comment, Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), noted that many studies have yielded inconsistent results regarding the impact of cannabis on cardiovascular health. He explained to Medical News Today:

“Population-based studies assessing the potential link between cannabis exposure and cardiovascular risk have, historically, yielded notoriously inconsistent results…Nevertheless, due to the lack of consistent data, NORML has long urged caution in this regard. regarding cannabis exposure in people with a history of heart disease or other cardiovascular problems, among other potentially higher-risk populations.

Therefore, more research is needed in this area.

The study in question aimed to explore this link. The researchers first examined the association between cannabis use and heart attacks using the UK Biobank, “the largest prospective cohort study to date, containing genetic and phenotypic data on 500,000 people. aged 40 to 69”.

Based on the evaluation of these data, cannabis use was associated with a higher risk of heart attack.

The researchers also recruited participants who smoked cannabis recreationally. They found that these participants had higher levels of inflammatory cytokines after smoking a cannabis cigarette, indicating an increased risk of atherosclerosis.

Next, the study authors looked at the impact of delta-9-THC on endothelial cells, which are the cells that make up the cardiovascular system. They found that delta-9-THC caused oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which harm the cardiovascular system.

In mouse models, they also found that delta-9-THC caused vascular dysfunction. Their research indicates that delta-9-THC could damage the cardiovascular system.

A herbal supplement that can help

To counter these effects, the researchers tested the soy-derived compound genistein. They found that it helped reduce the impact of inflammation and oxidative stress on the cardiovascular system.

They further found that genistein helped reduce the severity of atherosclerosis in mouse models.

Dr Joseph Wuprofessor of cardiovascular medicine and radiology, and director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, gave highlights of the study to DTM:

“Our study shows that marijuana (cannabis) is linked to cardiovascular disease according to UK Biobank, stem cell-derived vascular cells and mouse models. Using machine learning, we are also discovering a natural derivative of soy, genistein, which we can use to block the adverse effects of marijuana on the cardiovascular system.
— Dr. Joseph Wu

The study had several limitations. First, the researchers could not show a causal relationship between cannabis use and heart attacks. They recognize the potential for flaws in the data from the UK Biobank cohort.

The study also used mouse models, so caution should be exercised when applying the results to people.

Armentano also said the study could fail in terms of the consistency of research in the area.

“This latest paper is simply the latest in a long line of inconsistent results – results that likely vary depending on how well investigators control for potential confounding variables and behaviors in subjects.”

However, he pointed out that the researchers’ theory, based on the results of their mouse studies, was that it could be “due to cannabinoids triggering inflammation of blood vessels and therefore atherosclerosis is inconsistent with observational studies.” human”.

Nevertheless, the results indicated that genistein could help mitigate the potentially harmful effects of cannabis while retaining some of its beneficial effects.

The authors of the study wrote that “[g]enisteine, an isoflavone from soy, blocks the harmful cardiovascular effects of [delta-9-THC] while reserving clinically useful effects such as sedation and analgesia.

Study author Joseph Wu further explained DTM on the direction of future research in this area:

“Although we have shown that genistein can block the adverse effects of marijuana on the cardiovascular system using preclinical models, we need to do a randomized clinical trial to test its safety and efficacy in humans.”

“Genistein could also be a new lead compound that will lead to the development of new drugs capable of treating cardiovascular disease,” Wu added.

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