Cannabis for Traumatic Brain Injury

Educate about the benefits of cannabis for traumatic brain injuries, and other head trauma. Touch on the positive neurological and neuroprotective properties of cannabis. 

Concussions and traumatic brain injuries may be common among athletes in high contact sports, like the football or mixed martial arts, but head injuries can happen to anyone. From something as serious as a car accident, to a simple slip and fall, all of us are susceptible to injuring our head. In fact, falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), making up almost half of all emergency room visits related to TBI. Unfortunately, these injuries are a significant cause of death and disability in the United States. Over 2.5 million people die in the U.S. from TBI each year.

Then there’s the people who survive TBI, who can expect to feel side effects for days after their injury, or even for the rest of their entire lives. These side effects can present themselves as headaches, impaired movement, thinking or memory, trouble with sight or hearing, anxiety, depression, and even personality changes. To imagine these effects lasting a lifetime is daunting, but there is hope in the medicinal benefits of cannabis. 

Some of the cannabinoids in cannabis, including CBD and THC, and have been shown to have neuroprotective effects. When something has neuroprotective effects, it means it protects nerve cells from damage, or degeneration, and this includes brain cells. So when you consume cannabis, you’re protecting the cells of your nerves, and your brain, which is a big part of what makes cannabis good in the treatment of head injuries. 

The U.S. government evens owns a patent, 6630507, that confirms their knowledge of cannabinoids having neuroprotective properties. It states, “The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease”. Yet, despite this clear statement of knowledge about cannabis having medicinal properties as neuroprotectants being confirmed by our own government, it is still considered illegal at a federal level. 

This blatant hypocrisy has made it difficult to research the medicinal benefits of cannabis, but not impossible. A well known researcher in cannabis, Dr. Ethan Russo, published a paper in the Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, where he called cannabis therapeutics the future of neurology. He concluded, in reference to the use of cannabinoids in treating several neurological diseases, as well as TBI, that “current basic science and clinical investigations support the safety and efficacy of such interventions in treatment”. Then he went on to say that “cannabis botanicals offer distinct advantages over the current single-target pharmaceutical model” and that cannabis has the potential “to revolutionize neurological treatment”. 

To come to a conclusion about all of this ourselves, what we know is this. The U.S. government knows cannabis works as a neuroprotectant. Working as a neuroprotectant, cannabis can then help protect our brain and nerve cells if we suffer from TBI or another head injury. Experts in cannabis research agree with all of this, even to the point of stating cannabis can revolutionize treatment of TBI and other neurological problems. If we do the math here, it seems the answer is that cannabis should at least be considered as a medical option, after any sort of head injury. 

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