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Cannabis could offer treatment for stroke patients

Cannabis may help to reduce brain damage after a stroke, new research suggests.

Chemical compounds found in the plant could help shrink the area of the brain affected by stroke, the study suggests.

Cannabinoids that are found in the plant as well as those that can be made artificially and those that are found naturally in the body can also help improve brain function after a stroke attack, the authors said.

The study is to be presented to the annual UK Stroke Forum.

The authors, from the University of Nottingham, examined 94 studies evaluating the effects of cannabinoids on male rats, mice or monkeys.

They will tell the annual meeting that the chemical "shows promise as a neuroprotective treatment for stroke".

But experts cautioned that the effects of cannabis on the brain are "highly complex" and called for more research to see whether the same effect is noted in humans.

"The data are guiding the next steps in experimental stroke treatment in order to be able to progress onto initial safety assessments in a clinical trial," said lead author Dr Tim England.

Dr Dale Webb, director of research and information at the Stroke Association, added: "Further research is needed: the effects of cannabis on the brain are highly complex and it remains a risky substance."

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