Stroke and Head Trauma victims frequently suffer a sudden loss of consciousness and sometimes permanent paralysis caused by blood clots within the brain. Stroke is the third leading cause of adult deaths, and there are an estimated 400,000 severe head injury cases per year. In this type of injury, blood flow, and with it oxygen, is cut off to the portion of the brain affected by the blood clot, resulting in brain damage in as little as four minutes. Dr. Raphael Mechoulum, the renowned scientist who first isolated and synthesized delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), designed a synthetic cannabinoid medication that blocks the neural damage of traumatic head injury. Remarkably, this new cannabinoid deriviative appears to have no toxic effects. The molecule labeled HU-211, which has been called a “wonder drug,” may eventually be available in every emergency room around the world.  The same drug was labeled dexonabinol in human trials that showed remarkable promise. Patients treated with dexonabinol were found more likely to resume a normal life.  Reviewing the evidence on the cannabinoid medication, William Beaver, professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, was upbeat, saying the drug would be “beyond any doubt the most medically significant use ever made of marijuana.” 
Further studies have discovered that these same properties are also found in other cannabinoids. Pursuing advances of the Israelis, a research team at the US National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) reported on similar neuron-saving qualities in both THC and another cannabis compound called cannabidiol.  The NIMH results suggest that cannabidiol could also become an effective treatment for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.  In addition, stroke patients sometimes develop muscle spasms, which are also shown to be relieved by therapeutic cannabis. 
Approximately twelve years prior to the publication of The New Prescription, the author, Martin Martinez, was riding a motorcycle that was struck head-on by an automobile. With a combined speed on impact of 60 miles per hour, the unhelmeted motorcyclist suffered massive skull fractures with resultant cranial swelling and irreparable cranial nerve damage. However, to the amazement of the medical staff and other observers, he did not suffer the cerebral damage typical of such horrendous head trauma. While conducting research on this book, the author eventually concluded that he was spared cognitive damage in this motorcycle crash by a long history of chronic marijuana use. From this anecdotal report, in light of the recent findings by Mechoulum and others, it appears that cannabis may indeed provide an “invisible helmet” of cerebral protection in cases of severe head trauma.
Related sections: Cerebral Effects, Muscle Spasms, Neuralgia.
 “High expectations for stroke drug.” Israel Business Today, Vol. 8, No. 387, pp. 19, July 24, 1998
 “Marijuana derivative benefits head trauma victims, human trials show.” NORML News, October 8, 1998
 Tye, “Marijuana product may aid in traumas.” Boston Globe, October 7, 1998
 “U.S. Study: Marijuana might protect the brain.” Reuters, July 6, 1998
 Radford, “Cannabis is stroke hope.” The Guardian (UK), July 4, 1998
 Petro and Ellenberger, “Treatment of human spasticity with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.” Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Vol. 21, pp 413S-416S, 1981