Concussions are the most common type of brain injury and can have dangerous consequences if misdiagnosed or left untreated. Trouble is, doctors don’t have many options available to them for treating concussions and they are often quite difficult to diagnose.
A scientific review from 2015 examined CBD’s effect on neurodegenerative conditions. One study in the review found that administering CBD to pigs with newborn hypoxic-ischemic (HI) encephalopathy—brain damage caused by a lack of blood and oxygen—reduced neuronal death, preserved brain activity, prevented seizures, and improved neurobehavioral performance. In another study, when CBD was administered to rats with HI, it resulted in long-lasting neuroprotective effects, a reduction in brain damage, and the restoration of neurobehavioral function only weeks after the original injury. The review concluded that, “The neuroprotective effect of CBD included the prevention of necrotic [caused by disease or injury] and apoptotic [cell-programmed] cell death and was related to the modulation of excitotoxicity, inflammation, and oxidative stress.” The promising results of the studies from this review support the current hypotheses and research on cannabinoids’ ability to help treat neurodegenerative disorders like chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Concussions
CBD has very few side effects , and The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that “no public health problems… have been associated with the use of pure CBD,” making it a relatively safe treatment option.
CBD has also been found to activate glycine receptors in the central nervous system. These receptors play a significant role in the perception of pain. By increasing the activity of these receptors, CBD may help combat the pain of a headache.
Headaches are one of the most common post-concussion symptoms. CBD oil has pain relieving properties that could help reduce pain from headaches.
= Authors =
The therapeutic benefits of cannabis
… medicinal cannabis may pose as an option for treating concussion-related chronic pain, specifically headaches.
Jenni Diamond, OT Reg. (Ont.)
More recently, however, this research has been shifting toward humans. A 2018 study reviewed previous hospital charts and displayed that medicinal cannabis may pose as an option for treating concussion-related chronic pain, specifically headaches (7). However, these novel findings are quite preliminary and more studies are needed to validate the results.
Majority of the existing research on CBD and concussion has been limited to animals. Most notably, a 2012 study on rats revealed that administration of CBD after brain injury had long-lasting, positive effects on the brain, including reducing the severity of the injury and restoring overall neurological function (1).
New research has started to focus more on CBD’s potential to influence the residual changes caused by concussions ( 15 ). More research is needed to understand the benefits and risks of marijuana for concussions and traumatic brain injuries ( 12 ). To better understand cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system, check out our article here .
A 2020 review on CBD use in patients with concussions and TBIs also calls for more research specifically on its use for concussions. It has been shown to influence the blood brain barrier, cognitive capacity, cardiovascular physiology, and neurogenesis, which are all areas that are altered by concussions . In addition, it can help protect the brain (neuroprotection) by reducing inflammation as well as protecting the brain against free radicals ( 15 ).
Concussion Symptoms and Cannabinoids
80% of patients experienced significant improvement in their activity levels and symptoms . In the study, patients rated the improvements they experienced from medical cannabis in relation to their mood, sleep, and reduction in headaches ( 8 ). Patients rated these areas of improvement with the Quality of Life After Brain Injury Score’s (QOLIBRI) numerical rating system. None of the patients discontinued medical cannabis due to side effects. The results of this study suggest that cannabis may be used as a viable treatment for concussion-related chronic pain .
Please check out our guide on CBD for more information.
Concussions, considered a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), are often considered an acute injury, but it can also be considered lethal if it is not taken care of properly and in a timely manner. The initial impact of force, caused typically by accidents in which the head is hit or impacted (causing head trauma), damages brain cells and interrupts the blood flow in the brain ( 7 ).