Does Marijuana Help Concussions?
Concussions have become a widely discussed and even controversial topic in recent years, as many professional athletes and retired athletes have come out about their experiences with concussions and the list of health problems they’ve had as a result of having concussions.
With the ongoing discussion about concussions has come a specific topic of conversation about marijuana and concussions. People are asking does marijuana help concussions, and could it be a potential treatment option?
The following provides more information about concussions, and then more specifically, marijuana and concussions.
Concussions are usually classified as a mild brain injury since they’re not usually deadly, but the effects of a concussion can be severe.
Some of the symptoms of a concussion can include a headache or a feeling of pressure in your head, temporarily losing consciousness, confusion, amnesia, or dizziness. Other symptoms may include slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, or feeling tired or dazed.
For some people, the symptoms of a concussion show up immediately following the incident that caused it, while for other people there may be a delay and it can even take days for symptoms to appear.
There are many possible complications ranging from headaches to vertigo for months after an accident. There’s also something called post-concussion syndrome where people have symptoms for days, weeks or months following the accident. Researchers also believe there may be a cumulative effect on people who have had multiple traumatic brain injuries throughout their life, and this effect could cause impairment in functionality.
There has been a lot of focus on the fact that concussions may lead to an increased risk of not only physical side effects but also psychiatric problems. In fact, the risk of depression and suicide increases after a head trauma and some research has shown that even a single concussion may increase the risk of suicide up to three times.
There is now a lot of research that’s looking at marijuana and concussions to ultimately answer the question “does marijuana help concussions.”
Some researchers believe that properties of marijuana may help the brain to repair itself following a traumatic injury. The reasons marijuana and concussions may have a beneficial relationship to one another is because marijuana might be able to help reduce inflammation in the brain following an injury. Cannabis plants have antioxidants that can provide protective features to the brain and they can reduce overall inflammation and stress-related damage in the brain, possibly. This is important because one of the primary impacts of concussion is neural inflammation.
There was a Tel Aviv study showing that small doses of THC, which is a psychoactive component of marijuana, helped reduce swelling in animals.
The U.S. government also feels that marijuana may serve as a neuroprotective agent, and there is currently a federal patent on nonpsychoactive CBD for use as a neuroprotective agent. The patent application states that cannabinoids in cannabis may have the ability to limit the neurological damage following head trauma.
There is even research that’s showing that cannabis may be helpful as a pre-treatment for people who are in jobs or roles that could lead to a higher risk of concussions such as professional athletes. Primarily it’s the CBD that may be helpful in a proactive way.
As was touched on above, because concussions can increase the risk of psychiatric conditions, marijuana and concussions may also have a relationship with one another in terms of the effects of cannabis on things like memory and cognitive function.
CBD can also act as an antidepressant, at least in rodent studies, and it tends to work more quickly than many traditional pharmaceutical antidepressants so marijuana could be helpful for people with concussions in both direct and indirect ways.
While it’s not necessarily related to marijuana and concussions, there is also the potential that professional athletic leagues like the NFL may start exploring the potential of marijuana to replace addictive and dangerous opioids for the treatment of injuries and chronic pain as well.
Of course, you shouldn’t try to self-medicate with marijuana and concussions, and there’s a lot of research that still needs to be done on the topic, but what’s available so far does look promising.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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