Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects 1.7 million people in the US every year and is one of the leading causes of death in young people. TBI is usually triggered by concussions from things like falls, car accidents, and violent sports like football. Many who survive head injuries end up with permanent neurological and behavioral impairment, learning and memory problems, post-traumatic seizures, and lower life expectancy.
Unfortunately, the treatment for TBI is limited, and there are only a few pharmaceutical options. But thanks to scientific research and lots of personal accounts from medical cannabis patients, there is hope on the horizon. Let’s take a look at why cannabis for brain trauma may become the next go-to treatment.
Cannabis for Brain Trauma
Scientists are encouraged by the possibility of treating neurological conditions like autism and epilepsy with cannabis, and it looks like cannabis can offer hope to people who have endured head trauma as well.
A 2014 article published in American Surgeon looked at how cannabis use affected those who suffered TBI. It reported that a positive screening for THC was associated with decreased mortality in patients who experienced TBI. According to this study done by UCLA Medical Center researchers, individuals afflicted with TBI who also consume cannabis are more likely to live longer and less likely to die than TBI patients who abstain.
But how do cannabinoids like THC and CBD provide neuroprotection?
Plant cannabinoids can augment and mimic the cannabinoids that mammals produce internally called endocannabinoids. They are part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that regulates some brain processes that are important in TBI, like inflammation, neuroplasticity, and blood flow to the brain.
The ECS is equipped with what is described as a self-protection mechanism. It will kick in as a response to trauma like TBI or a stroke. Endocannabinoid levels in the brain will spike when the brain is traumatized, activating cannabinoid receptors to begin healing. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD can activate the same receptors and offer similar healing effects.
The Power of CBD
CBD is such a versatile medicine that it is known as a “promiscuous compound,” producing a number of benefits through many different pathways. It’s very active against a condition called brain ischemia, where there isn’t enough blood flow to the brain. It has also been shown to reduce brain damage and promote recovery in animal models of TBI and stroke.
What’s really appealing about CBD is that it doesn’t produce intoxicating effects like THC, and it doesn’t lead to tolerance.
The benefits of CBD are well known among boxers, football players, and other athletes who have experienced a brain injury. Professional football players are turning to CBD as a way to prevent chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative disease linked to repeated head injuries. CTE causes aggression, depression, dementia, and even suicide.
Prevention is crucial when it comes to CTE because there is no way to diagnose it while the patient is alive. So many NFL players are turning to cannabis to protect the health of their brain as well as alleviate pain and inflammation. While more research is needed to determine whether this is helpful, we always find it exciting to learn about new uses for cannabis.
Are you ready to find out more about how cannabis for