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Common effects of stroke that people can find difficult to cope with include pain, muscle problems and headaches. 

In recent years, legal cannabis-based products containing cannabidiol (CBD), have become more available. These products are legal because they do not contain THC, the part of cannabis that directly affects the brain. 

More people are now trying CBD oil, looking for help with a range of health concerns from acne to sleep problems. You can find them in pharmacies and health food shops, as well as online. 

But can they help stroke survivors?

The honest answer is, we don’t know yet. 

If people with certain conditions, like MS-related muscle spasticity or severe epilepsy, find other treatments aren’t working for them, cannabis-based products can be given by doctors. 

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. 

The medicines given by the NHS are manufactured with precise amounts of the active ingredients, and they will be different from the products you can buy over the counter. 

The Centre for Medical Cannabis, the organisation that represents companies making cannabis-based products in the UK, looked at products sold in the UK. They found only 11/29 (38%) had the amount of CBD close to what was advertised. It also found that some products contained other substances, like heavy metals that can be harmful and THC, the psychoactive part of cannabis. 

Please remember that cannabis-based products can interact with other medications, so check with your pharmacist or GP first.

What should I do if I want to try these products?

  • Speak to your GP for advice on treatment for your problems.
  • Ask your pharmacist for advice.
  • Contact our Helpline.
  • Find out more on the NHS website and MS Society.