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Concussions & CBD Oil: What to Know About the Research & Best Products

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.

Recent research has identified cannabidiol (CBD) as a potential candidate to help treat concussions as well as post-concussion syndrome. CBD’s neuroprotective properties are opening up doors for doctors trying to treat concussions. With more research and a better understanding of how CBD oil works, perhaps the lasting damage of a concussion could become a thing of the past.

Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Concussions

Depending on the severity of trauma to the head, doctors currently have a few different options available to treat a concussion. Most often, a regimen of physical and mental rest will be prescribed. If the suspected trauma is severe enough, doctors will often prefer that the patient stays at the hospital so that they may monitor symptoms.

The trouble with treating concussions is that it’s not possible to repair or reverse any damage that has occurred. Current treatment options are meant to provide damage control, keeping the brain from being harmed further in its fragile state, while trying to keep the patient as comfortable as possible.

While doctors may suggest pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to minimize discomfort, it is not particularly effective.

CBD oil may be exactly what doctors have been looking for. Research on CBD looks promising and it is actively being explored as a treatment option that may be able to halt, or even reverse, the damage caused by a concussion.

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.

Effectiveness of Using CBD Oil to Treat Concussion Symptoms

Researchers have found CBD oil to have potential neuroprotective properties. What this means for doctors and those who have suffered from recent brain trauma, is that it may be an option in the future to treat, or even reverse brain damage.

CBD Oil Neuroregeneration & Neuroprotection

One way in which CBD oil may be able to repair damage caused by head trauma is through a process called neurogenesis, which is the growth and development of neurons, or nerve cells in the brain and nervous system. CBD has shown the potential to stimulate this brain process, where neurons regenerate in response to damage caused by injury or age.

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).

A study from 1998 found CBD to actually prevent brain cell death in rats induced with glutamate neurotoxicity. The study showed that CBD, and even THC, were powerful antioxidants with neuroprotective qualities.

CBD Oil for Brain Inflammation

CBD oil has become well known as an anti-inflammatory agent. One of the most damaging elements of a concussion is brain inflammation. By reducing inflammation, CBD may be able to mitigate some of the impacts of concussion-related trauma, preventing increased damage.

In one review article, CBD was found specifically to treat brain inflammation, which allowed neuropathways to repair themselves following an injury. The review concluded that “CBD as well as other phytocannabinoids which do not bind cannabinoid receptors, represent promising molecules to treat TBI [traumatic brain injury].”

CBD Oil for Nausea and Vomiting

Some of the unpleasant side effects of a concussion are nausea and vomiting. CBD oil contains antiemetic properties and may be able to help.

It is believed that nausea is caused by an increase in serotonin. CBD binds to serotonin autoreceptors, inhibiting the release of serotonin. By reducing the amount of serotonin in the body, CBD may help control nausea.

CBD Oil for Headaches

Headaches are one of the most common post-concussion symptoms. CBD oil has pain relieving properties that could help reduce pain from headaches.

In a study on cannabis and migraine headaches, the frequency of migraines in the 121 adults in the study was reduced from 10.4 to 4.6 per month with the use of medicinal cannabis. While this study is not related to concussion headaches and did not examine the use of CBD alone, it does paint a promising picture for the use of cannabinoids in treating headache pain.

Another way CBD oil can be used to reduce headaches and headache pain is by reducing inflammation. Chronic pain and headaches are caused, in part, by inflammation. In the brain, the anti-inflammatory neurotransmitter adenosine acts on adenosine receptors. CBD increases the amount of available adenosine in the brain by limiting its reuptake, which leads to enhanced activation of anti-inflammatory adenosine receptor signaling. 

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.

How to Use CBD Oil to Treat Concussion Symptoms

While there are currently no off-the-shelf medications available to treat concussion symptoms, CBD oil products may be useful in minimizing discomfort. BUT, before proceeding, talk to your doctor. While CBD is largely safe, it can interact with some commonly prescribed medications. The safest way to use CBD oil and reduce the likelihood of negative effects is to get your physician involved in the process.

CBD oil comes in many forms: tinctures, edibles, vaporizers, topical creams, and capsules are all effective ways to enjoy the benefits CBD has to offer.

If you are looking to take advantage of CBD’s neuroprotective potential to manage the symptoms of a concussion, tinctures and capsules are excellent choices. These products are easily administered, and are available in a variety of strengths, making dosing easy. A CBD oil capsule will provide a consistent dose, while tinctures allow for easy dose adjustments, should you require them.

While taking a capsule is simple enough, taking a CBD tincture can be a bit confusing for a first-time user. To use a CBD oil tincture, or CBD oil drops, simply apply a dropper-full or two under your tongue and hold it there for 60 seconds. The CBD in the tincture will quickly absorb through the thin skin under your tongue, resulting in fast-acting relief, often showing effects in 30 minutes which last 2 to 4 hours.

CBD Oil Dosage for Concussions

Your CBD product of choice should come with dosing recommendations—start with the lowest recommended amount and work your way up from there. If the CBD product doesn’t contain dosage instructions, we at CBD Oil Review have come up with the following suggestion to get you started:

The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25 mg of CBD, taken twice daily

This dose is enough for most to notice relief from the headaches and pain caused by a concussion, though some patients may need more. Try sticking to this dose for 3 to 4 weeks, and if your symptoms don’t improve, you might try increasing your dosage by 25 mg. Continue with this dosage timeline, and make adjustments where necessary until you find the results you’re after.

It will take some experimenting to find your perfect dose, but you can rest easy knowing that overdose should not be a concern. According to the National Cancer Institute, “cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, [therefore] lethal overdoses from cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.”

For more dosing recommendations, check out our dosage guide or speak with a naturopathic doctor who can evaluate your individual symptoms and provide a treatment regimen specific to your condition.

Best CBD Oils for Concussion Symptoms

When it comes to finding the best CBD oil products for concussion symptoms, the long-lasting effects of a CBD oil tincture, capsule, or edible will probably provide the most relief. No matter what type of CBD product you choose, it is important to purchase one that contains only high-quality ingredients.

Because the CBD oil industry is largely unregulated at this time, it is ultimately up to you to verify the product you’re buying is safe and effective. Here are some quick tips to help you shop:

  • Buy organic.  Buying CBD oil derived from organic hemp means the final product will be clean and free from harmful pesticides and herbicides.
  • Read the ingredients.  Always read the ingredients list on any CBD product before you buy it. A quality CBD oil will contain natural ingredients, like a carrier oil (e.g. hemp seed oil or MCT oil) and essential oils for flavor, and no artificial additives or preservatives.
  • Look for a Certificate of Analysis.  Trustworthy brands will test their CBD extracts in an independent laboratory and post the results in a Certificate of Analysis. This analysis will verify that the CBD and THC concentrations labeled on the product are accurate, and reveal if there are any harmful chemicals or heavy metals in the final products.
  • Check the THC content.  The federal limit is 0.3% THC content or less in CBD products, but each state has the final say on how much THC is permissible. If you live in a state with strict cannabis laws, it may not be legal for you to buy or consume certain CBD oil products that contain any THC at all. If you’re avoiding THC, look for products derived from broad-spectrum CBD oil, which contains all the cannabinoids of the hemp plant except for THC. Or you can opt for a CBD isolate.

CBD oil’s neuroprotective qualities and ability to repair damage caused by traumatic brain injury are becoming increasingly well-documented but still require further investigation. Research involving animal studies as well as clinical trials are currently examining the use of CBD oil to treat concussions, so it won’t be long before we have a better understanding of all the ways CBD oil can treat both the symptoms and damage caused by head trauma.

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