Head Injuries are Serious Business and Cannabis Can Help

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Americans suffer as many as 3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions annually. Of those, more than 60 percent of them come from those playing football. Of deaths suffered while playing football up to 95 percent of those stem from brain injuries.

Numbers like these beg for solutions. The various football organizations are passing rules to mitigate the problem, each year tweaking the ways in which tacklers need to back off.

That’s fine as far as it goes, but football has been played for a century and a half now (the first college game was Princeton-Rutgers, Nov. 4, 1869) and for all that time, brains have been taking a beating. What can be done for those who have taken the hits and who now suffer the consequences?

Those consequences include dizziness and vertigo, depression, anxiety, interruptions of sleeping patterns, headaches, restlessness, personality changes, memory loss and increased sensitivity to sound and light. Anyone suffering a concussion is likely to have at least three of those symptoms and that is an indicator of a post-concussion syndrome diagnosis.

For the most part, standard over-the-counter pain medications are the first line of defense against the pain, although in extreme cases, surgery to ease the pressure can be needed if blood has begun to clot.

But concussions aren’t just about pain. They are about cognitive impairment of which anxiety and depression frequently are a major part.

Enter cannabis. It has been proven to have analgesic properties, so it can help with the pain aspects. And unlike other pain relievers, cannabis has been shown to be safe and with few to no side effects and there is no potential for overdose.

Cannabis and concussions

In dealing with other aspects of concussion, cannabis can help by decreasing brain swelling, pain and inflammation. More than that, toxic chemicals are released with any significant brain injury and cannabis has been shown to work to clear out such toxins.

Cannabis has also been shown to have the ability to increase the amount of blood that travels to the brain, and since blood provides both oxygen and nutrients to the brain, the healing process can be expedited.

Beyond that, cannabis has been shown to deliver both anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties to users.

Researchers in Canada have made the first steps in developing a “concussion pill” built around cannabis. Early indications are that the combination of hemp-derived cannabinoids and an NMDA amino acid anesthetic can be used to improve cognitive functions. In tests on rodents, the animals with traumatic brain injury showed significant cognitive progress with the concussion pill.

Cannabis and TBI

An ongoing retrospective analysis at Dent Neurologic Institute in Buffalo, NY that is looking at cannabis, concussion and chronic pain suggests cannabis is part of the solution to the trauma of concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Medical cannabis and chronic pain

Its conclusion reads “These results support MC (medical cannabis) as an option for treatment of concussion-related chronic pain. While prospective studies are required, these preliminary results lay the foundation for investigating MC as a valid treatment for concussion and chronic pain.

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