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Cannabis may reduce risk for stroke

Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen

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A new study suggests cannabis may reduce a person’s risk of having a stroke.

The research, which was conducted at the Center for Brain Health at The University of Texas, found cannabis improved oxygen and blood flow to the brain, which could reduce the risk of blood clots.

The study consisted of 74 cannabis consumers and 101 control participants matched for age and IQ. All consumers reported 5,000 usages over their lifetime and daily use for 60 days leading up to the study. Participants were required to refrain from cannabis for 72 hours before the study to eliminate acute effects. Participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging and urine testing for measuring THC levels.

Dr. Francesca Filbey, the lead researcher of the study, discovered tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) relaxed arterial walls, lowered blood pressure and increased blood flow to tissues. THC is the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant.

The research team also claimed frequent cannabis consumers possessed the lowest risk for stroke due to their efficient brain blood flow. The blood flow to the putamen, or “reward center” of the brain, also showed increased function compared to non-consumers.

“Currently, cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug. As it becomes more widely legalized, understanding neurophysiological alterations and its effects on the brain’s health and performance are becoming increasingly relevant,” Filbey said.

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