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Neuro rehab insights

“A very useful post-stroke treatment” – CBD experts



CBD oil, also referred to as cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid, which is an active compound with can be found in the cannabis sativa plant.

The oil has gained popularity for treating a range of conditions, due to its non-psychoactive properties, which means unlike THC, CBD oil does not cause its user to feel ‘high’ or lose any sense of reality.

CBD has shown to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic and immunosuppressive effects.

At this current time, there is no specific scientific evidence that suggests CBD oil can reduce the impact of stroke, because of this lack of scientific evidence there is no recommendation from the NHS or NICE on the use of CBD oil for stroke survivors.

The latest study into CBD and stroke Khaksar (2022) concludes: “Pretreatment of CBD could ameliorate the stress oxidative in cortex (as center of ischemic damages) and neuronal death in cortex and striatum (as penumbra), which it can be a great achievement.”

In response to this study, Dr. Clare Jonas, research communications and engagement lead at the Stroke Association, tells SR Times: “1.9 million neurons die for every minute stroke goes untreated.

“This causes the long-term effects of stroke, such as physical disability and cognitive impairment. 

 “This new study performed on rats showed us how cannabidiol (CBD) might be able to prevent some of the later-stage neuron death that occurs during a stroke.

“However, despite this and other recent studies, we’re a long way from being able to tell if pre-emptive CBD treatments could reduce the impact of stroke.

“We’d also need to find a safe method of delivery, as the tests done on the rats were very invasive and would be very impractical in a clinical setting.

“It’s still unclear whether using CBD in other ways, such as in pills or topical oils and creams would have the same effects as seen here.” 

The Stroke Association’s previous advice is: “At the moment, cannabis products are not prescribed for chronic pain or headaches.

“It is possible that more research will discover the benefits of CBD or other cannabis products for stroke survivors in future, but at the moment not enough is known about it.

“If you decide to try CBD oil products, be aware that the quality of cannabis-based products you can buy in shops can vary.

“So before you spend your money, make sure you find out what you are actually buying.”

However, there have been many studies on the effects CBD oil could have on a stroke survivor.

Professor Mike Barnes, expert cannabis physician and chief medical officer at Drug Science, highlights the fact there is little evidence of CBD oil reducing the impact of stroke in humans, but, notes that CBD has shown to be neuroprotective.

Which aligns with the study of Hayakawa (2010), in which it is noted that CBD oil displayed neuroprotective effects.

The study also notes that CBD oil has therapeutic benefits that could help ischemic stroke patients have a quicker and more beneficial rehabilitation process.

“Cannabis full spectrum oil [CBD] can alleviate the symptoms that follow stroke,” says Barnes.

“That will include lessening any pain including reducing spasticity.

“It will help sleep which is often a problem and reduce anxiety which is also an issue for many post-stroke.

“It can improve appetite, it can also help drug-resistant epilepsy if that becomes an issue.” 

It is these benefits that CBD oil can have for some stroke survivors, which makes Barnes believe that it is “a very useful medicine post-stroke.”

The study of England (2015) showed that all subclasses of cannabinoids, significantly reduced infarct volume in transient and permanent ischemia and could help to improve both early and late functional outcome in experimental stroke when given after stroke onset.

Jadoon (2017) found that acute administration of CBD oil to humans reduced resting systolic blood pressure and slowed the blood pressure response to stress in humans. 

This study coincides with the research of Sultan (2017), which notes that acute and chronic administration of CBD did not effect blood pressure or heart rate under controlled conditions, but, did have an effect under stressful conditions.

As mentioned by Professor Barnes, there is not enough evidence of CBD oil having an effect on stroke. However, Alvarez (2008) displayed that CBD significantly increased cerebral blood flow in hypoxic-ischemic piglets.

A study conducted in Spain, Lafuente (2011), claims that CBD oil could help with brain rehabilitation after stroke. The study explores the rehabilitating properties of CBD oil and its ability to prevent further nerve cell death.

However, like Alvarez (2008) this study was also carried out on pigs. 

It is perhaps due to the lack of evidence CBD oil has for it’s effect on stroke that some professionals don’t recommend its use for stroke rehabilitation or in fact, know little about it.

Dr Tom Baldchin, director of the ARNI institute and charity for stroke rehabilitation says: “I don’t actually hear about CBD being in use/of use much in stroke rehab at all. 

“In fact, no-one’s even mentioned it to me in relation to stroke apart from in relation to assisting with CNS pain and sometimes with fatigue/better sleep control.”