Consuming cannabis can significantly cut your chances of having a stroke, according to a new study published in the journal, ‘Neuropsychopharmacology.’
Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas found that cannabis improves blood and oxygen flow, consequently slashing the risk of blood clots and stroke.
Head researcher Dr. Francesca Filbey said the "primary psychoactive ingredient present in cannabis —tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — relaxes arterial walls resulting in lower blood pressure and increased blood flow to tissues.”
“Past marijuana research has shown changes in cognitive functions such as memory and executive functioning,” added Filbey in a press statement.
“Our study seeks to understand the possible neurophysiological mechanisms that may drive these cognitive changes.”
The research team analyzed 175 volunteers – 74 drug users and 101 non-users – for 60 days, although all participants refrained from taking drugs 72 hours prior to the examination. All the drug users selected for the study had consumed cannabis at least 5,000 times in their lifetime.
Throughout the study, researchers administered MRIs to the volunteers, as well as analyzed their THC metabolite levels using urinalysis. It was revealed that those who regularly consumed cannabis had greater global oxygen extraction fraction (OEF) and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) than the non-consumers.
Researchers also found that the cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the putamen – located at the base of the forebrain and associated with learning – was greater in cannabis users than non-users.
“Currently, cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug [in the U.S.],” said Filbey. “As it becomes more widely legalized, understanding neurophysiological alterations and its effects on the brain's health and performance are becoming increasingly relevant.”