Can CBD Help With Stroke?

  • CBD is believed to have cerebroprotective actions by modulating the endocannabinoid system and other receptors in the body(1).
  • A study in 2017 revealed that cannabidiol reduced brain damage and improved functional recovery in a rat model of ischemic stroke(2).
  • CBD is also said to have vascular effects that cause vasodilation and hypotension(3). These two properties could be used to combat cerebrovascular damage caused by a stroke.
  • However, most of the studies on cannabidiol have been based on animals. There is insufficient data to prove that CBD can effectively treat strokes in humans.

Why People Are Turning to CBD for Stroke

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is considered to have neuroprotective actions that could potentially be used in treating neurological disorders, such as cerebral ischemia(4). CBD’s presumed ability to protect against neuronal injury has led researchers to examine its efficacy in treating ischemic strokes.

In 2010, the journal Pharmaceuticals published a review of CBD’s therapeutic potential on ischemic strokes(5). It analyzed novel mechanisms by which cannabidiol may exert its cerebroprotective effects.

The study’s authors hypothesized that CBD might induce its neuroprotective properties by modulating the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and various receptors in the body.

They also mentioned that cannabidiol has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory activities. The researchers believe that these actions may be used to prevent disorders that commonly occur after a stroke(6).

A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences also revealed that CBD induced antioxidant and neuroprotective effects in rat brains(7).

In a 2017 study, cannabidiol was also found to reduce brain damage and improve functional recovery in rats with ischemic stroke(8)

Researchers learned that CBD administration led to the reduction of neuronal loss, a common occurrence during a stroke.

The compound is known to have vascular effects, causing vasodilation and hypotension. These two properties could be used as a protectant against cerebrovascular damage associated with stroke(9).

Furthermore, CBD is also considered a therapeutic candidate for stroke prevention due to its interaction with the ECS. The compound may even stall the development of atherosclerosis(10).

Atherosclerosis is a medical inflammatory condition where fats and other substances accumulate in the walls of arteries. This accumulation heightens the risk that a person experiences an ischemic stroke(11).

Although the findings hint that CBD may be a potential treatment for stroke, most of these studies were carried out on animals.

There has yet to be a direct clinical trial involving human subjects to prove that CBD can effectively treat stroke patients.

How CBD Oil Works to Help with Stroke

Although CBD’s mechanism remains unclear, experts believe that the compound induces its cerebroprotective effects by way of the ECS and different receptors in the body(12)

The ECS is a system in mammals that is said to regulate various functions of the body, like that of the nervous system.

Researchers believe that the CB1 cannabinoid receptor contributes to neuroprotection and that cannabidiol interacts with it. They concluded that CBD might activate the 5-HT1A receptor, potentially leading to functional improvement after cerebral ischemia(13).

CBD was also found to increase adenosine levels by interacting with the adenosine receptors(14). Increased adenosine is linked to neuroprotection and decreased inflammation following traumatic brain injury.

Meanwhile, the activation of CB2 receptors is associated with anti-inflammatory action, which researchers believe is modulated by CBD(15).

The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Stroke

The Pros

  • Cannabidiol was found to have anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, which researchers believe may help prevent disorders associated with a stroke(16).
  • A study has shown that CBD reduced brain damage and improved functional recovery in rats with ischemic stroke(17).
  • The vascular effects of cannabidiol allow it to produce vasodilation and hypotension, which could be beneficial against cerebrovascular damage after a stroke(18).
  • CBD is a non-psychotropic chemical compound of cannabis plants. It does not cause mind-altering effects, unlike its counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
  • One study found that repeated treatment with doses of cannabidiol did not appear to make its subjects tolerant to the compound(19).
  • Purchasing, transporting, and possessing CBD acquired from hemp plants is now legal, according to the United States 2018 Farm Bill(20).

The Cons

  • There is a general lack of studies concerning cannabidiol and its effectiveness in treating patients with stroke – both during the acute development of a stroke and managing the long-term effects after stroke.
  • Most of the studies that were carried out on the neuroprotective properties of CBD were performed on animals.
  • Consuming CBD comes with possible side effects, such as diarrhea, tiredness, and changes in appetite(21).
  • Users who decide to purchase CBD online are at risk of obtaining inaccurately labeled products(22).
  • Products made with cannabidiol and medical marijuana are not covered by insurance companies.

How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Stroke

Diets rich in blueberries, spirulina, and spinach are believed to benefit patients with stroke(23).

In a 2002 study, lab rats fed with a diet of blueberries for six weeks reportedly had lower ischemia-induced brain damage. The authors suggested that the inclusion of blueberries in the diet may have enhanced ischemic stroke outcomes(24).

The antioxidant property of spirulina has been attributed to its protective potential against brain injury caused by a decreased cerebral blood flow(25).

Meanwhile, a combination diet that contained spinach was found to minimize brain damage due to a reduced blood flow in blood vessels(26).

In comparison, cannabidiol is believed to have anti-oxidative and cerebroprotective effects that could help people with stroke. These properties are why CBD is considered a therapeutic candidate for stroke prevention(27).

CBD administration was also found to reduce neuronal cell death(28). Damage to brain cells occurs during an ischemic stroke.

How to Choose the Right CBD for Stroke

When choosing CBD for stroke, users must know the different types of cannabidiol available. Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolates are the three forms of CBD sold by brands today.

Products labeled as full-spectrum CBD are the type that contains all of the naturally-occurring compounds of Cannabis sativa. It has high amounts of cannabidiol and traces of flavonoids, terpenes, THC, and other minerals.

The second type of CBD is known as broad-spectrum. These products have almost the same content as full-spectrum, but it does not have THC.

Users who wish to take all of the compounds of cannabis plants except for THC often choose to buy broad-spectrum CBD oil.

Since tetrahydrocannabinol can cause psychotropic effects, some individuals choose to avoid purchasing CBD that has the compound present.

The last variant is called isolates, which is the purest form of CBD available. It is often bought as crystals that can be ground to powder for easy consumption.

CBD isolates do not have a distinct taste or smell because of their purity.

When choosing a cannabidiol product, it is vital to obtain only the highest quality possible to maximize the potential health benefits of CBD.

Here are some tips that can help individuals buy top-quality CBD today:

  • Request to see the laboratory report of the chosen CBD product. This document is proof that the item has gone through proper testing and contains the exact amount of CBD specified on its label.
  • Industrial hemp is the best CBD source since it is rich in cannabidiol while having minimal THC present.
  • Know the legalities surrounding CBD use in the area where one wishes to buy the compound. Although CBD is legal in most states, the laws on its use can change.
  • When buying from a dispensary, ensure that they have the proper authorization to sell CBD in the area.
  • Seek advice from a doctor, especially one who has experience in using medical cannabis, before buying any CBD product.

CBD Dosage for Stroke

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved guidelines concerning CBD dosage. That is why knowing the right CBD dosing that could improve the quality of life for stroke victims is difficult.

Despite this predicament, interested users can look at past studies and the dosage that was applied to identify a suitable dose of CBD to take.

In one study, healthy volunteers were given 3 mg/kg of CBD daily for thirty days and were observed for changes each week. The researchers learned that the subjects tolerated the compound very well and had no signs of toxicity or adverse side effects after the trial(29).

Meanwhile, the highest dose of CBD recorded in a study is 1,500 mg per day. The study reported that chronic use and high doses of cannabidiol are also well-tolerated in humans(30).

How to Take CBD Oil for Stroke

Taking CBD hemp oil using tinctures is one of the fastest ways to allow cannabidiol to enter the body. Sublingual administration is considered to be a more effective form of delivery than the traditional oral route, especially when it is required immediately(31).

Another way to rapidly deliver CBD to the body is by inhaling the compound. Many brands sell cannabidiol vapes that allow users to take in vaporized CBD.

Administering CBD to the lungs is considered to be an effective method of delivery because of its fast onset of action and high bioavailability(32).

However, using CBD vapes and other electronic cigarettes is not recommended, as these are often associated with lung problems(33).

Another way of consuming cannabidiol is by taking gummies, cookies, capsules, and tablets. CBD edibles can be treated as snacks, while capsules and tablets can be used similarly to supplements.

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke, or brain attack, happens when something blocks the supply of blood to the brain or when a blood vessel near the brain bleeds (which can also cause compression of brain tissue, further cutting off blood supply to the brain) erupts. Areas of the brain can be damaged in both cases.

Whenever something occurs to block the flow of blood, cells in the brain begin to die due to the lack of oxygen. This scenario is what causes a stroke(34).

The two types of strokes are:

  1. Ischemic stroke –It is a form of stroke that happens when blood clots or other particles stop the blood from reaching the brain. Fat deposits known as plaque can also lead to blockages as they accumulate in the blood vessels.
  2. Hemorrhagic stroke – This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel near the brain bursts, resulting in the build-up of blood and damage in the surrounding area.

Both forms of stroke damage the brain cells, causing neurological damage.

A stroke can have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg, particularly in one side of the body
  • Sudden inability to see properly
  • Sudden trouble in understanding speech or in speaking
  • Sudden difficulty in walking, lack of coordination, or loss of balance
  • Severe headaches with no known cause

Having a heart disease known as atrial fibrillation (AFib) increases the risk of stroke. People with AFib have abnormal heart rate, which can cause blood clotting in the heart that can shoot up towards the brain and cause strokes.

High blood pressure is also believed to increase the chances of having a stroke.

What Is the Standard Treatment for a Stroke?

The stroke treatment of a patient begins as soon as they arrive at the hospital. From there, they may receive emergency medical attention, treatment to prevent future strokes, rehabilitation, or all three.

Patients that arrive at the hospital within three hours of experiencing initial symptoms of an ischemic stroke may receive a type of medication called thrombolytic. This drug aims to break blood clots.

Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is known as a thrombolytic and has been shown to improve the chances of stroke recovery(35). However, many stroke victims fail to arrive at the hospital in time to receive such treatment.

For specific hemorrhagic strokes, endovascular procedures might be necessary. A tube is inserted through an artery and then guided to the site to repair the damage or stop the bleeding(36).

Surgery is needed to treat most hemorrhagic strokes. For a specific type of bleeding, a metal clip may be installed in place to stop blood loss.

Stroke survivors have a high risk of experiencing another stroke.

Recovering From a Stroke

Stroke recovery time is different for each individual. Full recovery can take weeks, months, or years to accomplish.

In some cases, patients can have long-term or even lifelong disabilities after a stroke.

Some of the post-stroke problems that may persist are:

  • Inability to move specific body parts
  • Difficulty with awareness, thinking, learning, attention, and memory
  • Issues in understanding or forming speech
  • Trouble expressing or controlling emotions
  • Chronic pain in the hands and feet that gets worse with movement
  • Bower and bladder control problems
  • Depression

Stroke rehabilitation can include working with physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Medicine and therapy may help people deal with depression or other mental conditions after a stroke.

Taking part in a patient support group can be beneficial for stroke survivors to help them adjust.

How to Prevent a Stroke

Making healthy lifestyle choices is one way a person can help in preventing a stroke.

Choosing healthy meals and snacks can contribute to stroke prevention. Staying in shape is essential since being overweight or obese can increase the chances of a stroke.

Regular physical activity allows individuals to stay healthy by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. For most adults, at least two hours and thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week should be met(37).

Avoiding cigarette smoking can minimize the chances of experiencing a stroke. Drinking too much alcohol should also be avoided, as this can lead to heightened blood pressure.

Conclusion

Recent studies have shown that cannabidiol has cerebroprotective properties that could be used to treat patients with strokes.

CBD is said to have anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects that may be useful in stroke prevention. Researchers also learned that CBD exerts vascular activity that may be useful as a protectant against cerebrovascular damage commonly associated with a stroke.

However, most of the studies concerning cannabidiol were performed on animals. Many of the potential health benefits of CBD have been based on its effects in animal models.

Interested users are advised to seek help from a doctor before purchasing any CBD product. A medical expert who is knowledgeable with medical marijuana is recommended.


  1. Hayakawa K, Mishima K, Fujiwara M. Therapeutic Potential of Non-Psychotropic Cannabidiol in Ischemic Stroke. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(7):2197-2212. Published 2010 Jul 8. doi:10.3390/ph3072197
  2. Ceprián M, Jiménez-Sánchez L, Vargas C, Barata L, Hind W, Martínez-Orgado J. Cannabidiol reduces brain damage and improves functional recovery in a neonatal rat model of arterial ischemic stroke. Neuropharmacology. 2017;116:151-159. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2016.12.017
  3. Maroon J, Bost J. Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Surg Neurol Int. 2018;9:91. Published 2018 Apr 26. doi:10.4103/sni.sni_45_18
  4. Hampson AJ, Grimaldi M, Axelrod J, Wink D. Cannabidiol and (-)Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol are neuroprotective antioxidants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 1998 Jul;95(14):8268-8273. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.95.14.8268.
  5. Hayakawa K, Mishima K, Fujiwara M. op. cit.
  6. Ibid.
  7. di Giacomo V, Chiavaroli A, Recinella L, et al. Antioxidant and Neuroprotective Effects Induced by Cannabidiol and Cannabigerol in Rat CTX-TNA2 Astrocytes and Isolated Cortexes. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;21(10):3575. Published 2020 May 18. doi:10.3390/ijms21103575
  8. Ceprián M, Jiménez-Sánchez L, Vargas C, Barata L, Hind W, Martínez-Orgado J. op. cit.
  9. Maroon J, Bost J. op. cit.
  10. Eugene L. Scharf.Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.Dec 2017.259-264.http://doi.org/10.1089/can.2017.0033
  11. Lusis AJ. Atherosclerosis. Nature. 2000;407(6801):233-241. doi:10.1038/35025203
  12. Hayakawa K, Mishima K, Fujiwara M. op. cit.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Maroon J, Bost J. op. cit.
  15. Eugene L. Scharf. op. cit.
  16. Hayakawa K, Mishima K, Fujiwara M. op. cit.
  17. Ceprián M, Jiménez-Sánchez L, Vargas C, Barata L, Hind W, Martínez-Orgado J. op. cit.
  18. Maroon J, Bost J. op. cit.
  19. Hayakawa K, Mishima K, Fujiwara M. op. cit.
  20. Hudak J (2018, December 14). The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/
  21. Iffland K, Grotenhermen F. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):139-154. Published 2017 Jun 1. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034
  22. Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909
  23. Wang Y, Chang CF, Chou J, et al. Dietary supplementation with blueberries, spinach, or spirulina reduces ischemic brain damage. Exp Neurol. 2005;193(1):75-84. doi:10.1016/j.expneurol.2004.12.014
  24. Sweeney MI, Kalt W, MacKinnon SL, Ashby J, Gottschall-Pass KT. Feeding rats diets enriched in lowbush blueberries for six weeks decreases ischemia-induced brain damage. Nutr Neurosci. 2002;5(6):427-431. doi:10.1080/1028415021000055970
  25. Thaakur S, Sravanthi R. Neuroprotective effect of Spirulina in cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury in rats. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2010;117(9):1083-1091. doi:10.1007/s00702-010-0440-5
  26. Wang Y, Chang CF, Chou J, et al. op. cit.
  27. Eugene L. Scharf. op. cit.
  28. Ceprián M, Jiménez-Sánchez L, Vargas C, Barata L, Hind W, Martínez-Orgado J. op. cit.
  29. Cunha JM, Carlini EA, Pereira AE, et al. Chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers and epileptic patients. Pharmacology. 1980;21(3):175-185. doi:10.1159/000137430
  30. Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent. Curr Drug Saf. 2011;6(4):237-249. doi:10.2174/157488611798280924
  31. Hua S. Advances in Nanoparticulate Drug Delivery Approaches for Sublingual and Buccal Administration. Front Pharmacol. 2019;10:1328. Published 2019 Nov 5. doi:10.3389/fphar.2019.01328
  32. Bruni N, Della Pepa C, Oliaro-Bosso S, Pessione E, Gastaldi D, Dosio F. Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment. Molecules. 2018;23(10):2478. Published 2018 Sep 27. doi:10.3390/molecules23102478
  33. Chand HS, Muthumalage T, Maziak W, Rahman I. Pulmonary Toxicity and the Pathophysiology of Electronic Cigarette, or Vaping Product, Use Associated Lung Injury. Front Pharmacol. 2020;10:1619. Published 2020 Jan 14. doi:10.3389/fphar.2019.01619
  34. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About Stroke. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/about.htm
  35. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke rt-PA Stroke Study Group. Tissue plasminogen activator for acute ischemic stroke. N Engl J Med. 1995;333(24):1581-1587. doi:10.1056/NEJM199512143332401
  36. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke Treatment. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/treatments.htm
  37. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing Stroke: Healthy Living. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/healthy_living.htm
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