Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Concussion Syndrome and Medical Marijuana
Traumatic brain injury can occur when there is a severe impact to the head, such as being struck by someone or from the sudden deceleration of a car accident. The impact can come from either the outside or from the brain making contact with the skull internally due to gravitational force.
A concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. It is considered “minor” or “mild” on the overall scale of brain injuries, but it is not something to be taken lightly. Concussions can cause temporary loss of memory, inability to concentrate, irritability, headaches and sleep disturbances among other symptoms.
A concussion can also make the patient more susceptible to future concussions, with less impact required to have the same severity of injury. Having multiple concussions can lead to the development of Parkinson’s disease, dementia or severe depression later in life.
Post-concussion syndrome is when concussion symptoms occur for longer than is normal. Symptoms lasting for weeks can be an indication of abnormality, but a diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome is usually made when the symptoms have continued for several months.
Research on synthetic cannabinoids has found that they protect the brains of mice from injury if administered four to six hours after the injury occurs. The cannabinoids used were structured to be almost identical to THC, the psychoactive component of medical marijuana.
A study of 446 human patients who had experienced serious brain injury also found that survival rates were much better for those with THC in their system than those without. While the results of this study are exciting, one weakness is that it was not possible to determine exactly how much THC was present in the systems of the patients, so necessary dosages are still unclear.
Medical marijuana may also help in recovery from post-concussion syndrome, but results are mostly anecdotal at this point. Patients who have found relief and seen improvements in their condition report using a strain of medical cannabis high in CBD and low in THC, and most often administer orally.
Research on the use of medical marijuana with brain injuries and concussion symptoms is still in a very preliminary state, but there are promising signs that it speeds recovery, and can help to alleviate symptoms such as irritability and inability to sleep. Since dosages have not yet been standardized, however, it is wise to speak to a medical doctor before beginning treatment.
For more information visit the Brain Injury Association of America.