What Is Stroke?
A stroke is when blood flow to the brain is interrupted or markedly limited. The brain tissue is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, which can cause brain cells to die within minutes. Strokes are caused by blocked arteries, which is referred to as an ischemic stroke and accounts for about 85% of all strokes, or by the leaking of a blood vessel, which is called a hemorrhagic stroke. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is when there is a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain.
Stroke was previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA). It is now the leading cause of adult disability in the United States and Europe and the second leading cause of death worldwide. Risk factors for stroke include old age, hypertension (high blood pressure), previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), diabetes, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking and atrial fibrillation. High blood pressure is the most important modifiable risk factor of stroke.
Marijuana in Stroke Treatment
Coming at a time when marijuana, medically known as cannabis, is on track to become legal for medical or recreational use in more than half of U.S. states, I want to shed new light on how the drug affects cardiovascular health in stroke victims.
Cannabis (and in particular CBD) has been shown to be a neuroprotectant in mice, but its efficacy on humans has not been proven as of such yet. Anecdotally, and according to some NFL players, cannabis could indeed be neuroprotective. Cannabis may not only help protect surrounding nerves from the stroke/ischemic event, but may help repair them, too.
Why? Well, when a stroke occurs, “Glutamate” is released. Now, glutamate is a necessary chemical for sending signals to other cells, but is toxic when produced in excess. When a stroke occurs, the glutamate cannot be removed, destroying brain cells. CBD may help block this excess amount of glutamate from forming in the forst instance.
The problem with cannabis for stroke victims, however, is THC. THC may dull brain performance, so in this sense cannabis can be a bit of a “double-edged sword” for stroke victims.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a psychotropic cannabinoid, it has an immediate effect of distortion of time and space perceptions and impaired coordination in the brain causing difficulty of thinking or problem solving and impairment of memory and learning.
Dr. Margaret Gedde, a Stanford-trained MD PhD pathologist and award-winning researcher who specializes in the therapeutic use of cannabis, says the concern you’ll have to worry about medical marijuana is the psychoactivity of THC or its ability to make you feel “high.” Although in some cases, THC may be beneficial, too, especially for patients suffering from severe pain.
This therefore means that in order to benefit more from medical marijuana in stroke treatment, it is advisable to specifically look for high CBD and low THC marijuana formulations.
Low amounts of THC are considered incredibly safe for human consumption.