Cannabis as a Stroke Treatment?

Weed in pill bottles
Gary Morrison/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Marijuana, typically considered a drug of abuse, has also been prescribed to patients as a legitimate medication to treat some medical ailments for years. Increased legalization and availability of marijuana over the past few years has brought several health issues about marijuana to the forefront. Questions such as- is it safe as a recreational drug or is it dangerous? Is it proven to be beneficial for some illnesses?

Do we need more research?
Certainly, most people are not familiar with the effects of marijuana on stroke, even though it can cause dramatic consequences.

What is Cannabis?

Marijuana is the term most widely used for the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant contains several identified active ingredients that primarily affect the brain and nervous system. It is used as a drug to alter brain activity and to diminish a user’s perception of the world around him. While it interferes with perception, it slows reaction time, and makes a user less aware of real or perceived threats around him- which is why a person who is unable to cope with anxiety might use it to dull or change his perceptions.

The cannabis plant is commonly referred to as marijuana, weed or pot, but numerous other terms have been used to label it over the years - varying with the age and social community of the user.

Can Cannabis Cause A Stroke?

Recurrent use of marijuana has been shown to produce changes in the blood vessels in a way that can increase the risk of stroke over the long-term.

In the short-term, high doses of marijuana consumption and different synthetic compounds have been associated with more serious health emergencies, including stroke.

Cannabis and stroke treatment

The medical community has been carrying out scientific research experiments to evaluate the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis on stroke.

Over the years, numerous studies have been done to assess the possibility of using cannabis for stroke treatment. A recent article published in the December 2014 issue of The Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism combined the results of a total of 144 experiments that used cannabis as a possible neuroprotectant in stroke. Several of the studies were animal experiments. The use of cannabis was associated, on average, with a decreased area of brain damage, but not with improved survival after a stroke. The methods of cannabis administration, the doses and the timing varied among the different experiments.

What Should You Do?

While these studies are interesting- the results do not imply that people should go and start smoking marijuana! Because of the safety issues associated with the use of cannabis, it is not recommended as an at-home treatment. Much research still needs to be done, including assessment of ideal dosing and route of administration. Assessment of which types of stroke may or may not respond to administration of cannabis need to be determined.

Pros and Cons

Medications, casual drugs, food, drinks and even exercise all have the potential to benefit your health or to cause serious damage.

Even beneficial ingredients can induce side effects and medication interactions that must be carefully monitored.

For example, wine has both positive and negative effects on stroke. Vitamins can have helpful effects and adverse consequences when it comes to stroke. Even exercise has been shown to help prevent a stroke, and in rare instances it can cause a stroke.

If you are looking for new alternatives to your medical care, it is best to enroll in a research study so that you can get the benefits of the latest treatment while also receiving a great deal of individualized attention to your health.

Cannabinoids in experimental stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis, England TJ, Hind WH, Rasid NA, O'Sullivan SE, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, December 2014

A case of acute cerebral ischemia following inhalation of a synthetic cannabinoid, Takematsu M, Hoffman RS, Nelson LS, Schechter JM, Moran JH, Wiener SW, Clinical Toxicology, November 2014

High frequency of intracranial arterial stenosis and cannabis use in ischaemic stroke in the young, Wolff V1, Armspach JP, Beaujeux R, Manisor M, Rouyer O, Lauer V, Meyer N, Marescaux C, Geny B, Cerebrovascular Disease, July 2014

Continue Reading