Stroke is defined as a lack of blood flow to a section of the brain leading to cell death. It is an emergency situation with high rate of mortality that requires immediate medical attention. There are a total of 3 types of strokes, namely ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke and transient ischemic stroke. The prevalence of ischemic stroke is much higher than hemorrhagic stroke with the ratio of 80% and 20% respectively. While transient ischemic stroke acts as a warning sign and usually precedes week(s) before the real stroke attack.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the red flags of stroke can be remembered by the mnemonic known as F.A.S.T which stands for
(a) Face Drooping
(b) Arm Weakness
(c) Speech Difficulties
(d) Time to call 911
In recent years, multiple experimental and observational studies have been conducted to determine the relationship between the effects of cannabis to the outcome of stroke.
In one of the studies carried out by the University of Strasbourg in France, researchers took a sample of 334 patients under the age of 45 who suffered ischemic stroke from 2005 to 2014, 58 of whom were cannabis users, Out of these 58 cannabis users, 45% of them were found to have a narrowed cerebral arteries. Therefore they established a correlation between cannabis consumption and cerebral artery stenosis. (1)
In another study carried out by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the biochemical make up of cannabis known as the cannabinoids, has the ability to inhibit glutamate, a neurotransmitter/hormone that induces toxic effect if accumulate in the brain. Therefore their consensus was cannabinoids has anti-oxidant effect against glutamate toxicity.
The theory is further substantiated by a study conducted in 2012 where researchers discovered the number of CBD1 and CBD2 receptors increased following a stroke event after administration of artificial cannabinoids to the test subject. In other words, cannabinoids bind to glutamate therefore free up the CBD receptors in the brain and peripheral tissues. The conclusion of the study is that while cannabinoids does not prevent the occurrence of stroke, it does reduce the extent of brain injury during a stroke attack.(2)
The process of which cannabinoids bind to glutamates gives time for injured brain tissues to rejuvenate and increase the speed of recovery following a stroke attack. On top of that, cannabinoid is also said to have inflammation regulatory effects, therefore might play an important role in the prevention of arterosclerosis besides having neuroprotective function. However, research studies are still being conducted in this realm for justification.
(1.) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 7, 1998, Vol. 95, Issue 14, p. 8268; “Pot Chemicals Might Inhibit Breast Tumors, Stroke Damage,” Dallas Morning News, July 13, 1998; Vanessa Thorpe, “Chemicals Help Brain Damage After Stroke,” The Independent (UK), July 19, 1998).
(2.) Stroke. 2012 Jan;43(1):211-9. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.631044. Epub 2011 Oct 20.