Traumatic brain injuries can have serious adverse effects on everyday life. Current research indicates that CBD oil may be an effective way to deal with the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries, protect the brain from further damage, and start the path to recovery.
Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, are among the most prominent causes of death for people under the age of 45. In America alone, 1.7 million people every year are affected by a brain injury, with older teens (between 15-19 years old) and adults over 65 being most at risk.
While research on the effects of CBD oil on traumatic brain injuries is ongoing, some evidence does exist that it may be incredibly helpful in the healing process.
The term “traumatic brain injury” covers a wide range of injuries, including concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), that have resulted in internal damage to the brain. The injury usually occurs due to an impact, like an object hitting the head with force, sudden acceleration or deceleration; or both. When the brain bangs against the hard walls of the skull it can bruise, tear or bleed, leading to brain damage, or even death.
Traumatic brain injuries are most commonly the result of the direct impact or severe jolting movement from car accidents, sports-related accidents (particularly in football and hockey), acts of violence, and falls.
The link between cannabinoids and TBIs is a curious one, and comprehensive research is still required. Having said that, there is a study that found traumatic brain injury patients who tested positive for cannabis to have a decreased rate of death: 2.4% compared to 11.5% who tested negative for THC, to be exact. This significant difference in mortality suggests potential for cannabinoids like CBD in preventing fatal TBIs.
The treatment received for TBIs will depend on the severity of the injury. For mild cases, rest and over the counter pain relievers are used. For more severe cases, surgery and rehabilitation may be necessary. Depending on the situation, medications may also be prescribed. Diuretics, anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, opioids, and coma-inducing drugs are most common. CBD oil may be able to offer some of the same benefits as these medications without producing the same side effects.
CBD provides a more natural option for symptom management and has been shown to reduce seizures, improve mood, and reduce inflammation. Next, we’ll take a closer look at what science has to say about cannabidiol’s potential to help people with traumatic brain injuries.
Research has found CBD oil to be effective for several concerning symptoms that follow a traumatic brain injury. While the research is ongoing, what is known so far is promising.
The body’s endocannabinoid system is a network of neurotransmitters that work primarily in the central nervous system and brain. Studies have shown that following a brain injury, endocannabinoids are released as a defense mechanism to protect and repair the brain.
Phytocannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), trigger the same response in the endocannabinoid system, suggesting that the use of CBD post-injury can boost the brain's natural, protective functions.
The neuroprotective properties of the cannabis plant have been studied and accepted for over 20 years now. A 1998 report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that cannabinoids, specifically CBD and THC, served as powerful antioxidants and neuroprotectants. As a result of this report, a year later the U.S. government applied for a patent that holds THC and CBD “to have particular application as neuroprotectants… in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke or trauma.”
When recovering from a TBI, reducing inflammation is essential. There are a number of studies that show all the ways CBD oil can reduce inflammation in nervous tissues.
The CB2 receptors in the central nervous system play a significant role in controlling inflammation, as do the A2A receptors. CBD interacts with these receptors to increase their effects and reduce inflammation.
CBD oil can also reduce the production of cytokines, which are small proteins that incite inflammation. By limiting cytokine production, CBD may have a neuroprotective effect, preserving cerebral circulation and reducing neuroinflammation.
It has been well documented that CBD reduces inflammation in the brain post-injury, and while tests thus far have only been conducted on animal subjects, the results have been clear. Following artificially induced brain injuries to newborn pigs, a 2011 study found that treatment with CBD produced “histological, functional, biochemical, and neurobehavioral improvements” after only 72 hours.
Memory loss and a lack of information retention are common after a traumatic brain injury. CBD oil’s ability to address inflammation and repair neural pathways can help improve memory loss that has occurred as a result of an injury. Research in this particular area is ongoing, but given that CBD oil is being studied as a treatment for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, more evidence regarding CBD oil's efficacy for memory loss should emerge soon.
Following a traumatic brain injury, there can be a vast amount of physical and mental healing to do. The body is fighting to repair itself on a microscopic and macroscopic level.
On a physical level, cannabis-based medicines, such as those made with CBD oil, are thought to speed the rate of bone regeneration. This fact is particularly important for TBI patients who have also experienced skull or other skeletal damage.
Where TBI is associated with injury to the skull or facial bones, CBD oil may increase the speed at which the skeletal damage heals. A 2015 study found that when rats were given cannabidiol post-fracture, their bones healed stronger and faster than the control group that was not treated with CBD.
Even more important than its role in bone healing, is the role of CBD in cell regeneration and mood. Around half of all patients who suffer a TBI will experience depression in the 12 months following the injury. A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology investigated the role of cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system in mood regulation and neurogenesis. The study reported that “the weight of evidence indicates that impaired neurogenesis is associated with depression and cognitive impairment” and that cannabinoids such as CBD encourage neurogenesis. The researchers conclude, “Pharmacological targeting of the cannabinoid system as a regulator of neurogenesis may prove a fruitful strategy in the prevention or treatment of mood or memory disorders.” This means CBD oil has the potential to repair the brain from a physical and emotional standpoint at the cellular level.
The exact ways in which CBD oil is used to treat traumatic brain injuries will vary. The dosage and delivery format of choice will depend on the symptoms and severity of the injury.
Before considering CBD oil for treating a TBI, it is important to talk to a doctor. CBD oil does not cause any significant side effects, but it can interact with some commonly prescribed medications. In order to use CBD safely and effectively, a medical professional should always be included in the process.
For neuroprotective benefits and anti-inflammatory properties, it is likely best to use CBD oil tinctures, drops, capsules, or edibles.
A CBD oil tincture or drops allow for the most dosage control. You can control the amount of CBD you’re taking down to the literal drop! So, it may be wisest to start with CBD oil drops or tinctures to figure out your ideal dosage.
From there, you can use a CBD oil capsule for a consistent daily dose of CBD. CBD capsules can easily be worked into your vitamin and/or TBI treatment routine. Because capsules (and edibles) have to pass through your digestive system, it can take up to an hour for the effects to set in. However, the effects typically last 4 to 6 hours, meaning you won’t have to worry about dosing throughout the day.
CBD vapes and CBD flower can also be effective for addressing the sudden appearance or worsening of traumatic brain injury symptoms. These delivery formats are fast-acting because the CBD is absorbed directly through the lungs, bypassing the digestive system and going to work in a matter of minutes. Their effects are short-lived, however, so they are best used to treat sudden-onset, acute symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is no one single dose that is universal for people with traumatic brain injuries. While a naturopathic doctor can help you narrow down a dose specific to your needs, what works best will vary from person to person.
Generally speaking, it is best to start with the lowest recommended dose suggested on your CBD oil product of choice. Once it is clear how the body will respond to CBD, the dose can be adjusted up or down from there as needed.
At CBD Oil Review, we have analyzed hundreds of products and come up with a suggested serving of 25 mg of CBD, taken twice daily. If the desired results are not found at this amount, the dose can be increased by 25 mg, slowly over the course of 3 to 4 weeks until relief is found.
For more information on CBD oil dosages and how to find the right one for you, check out our dosage guide here.
The best CBD oil for TBI patients will depend on the patient and the extent of the injury. There is no one brand or product that will be best. What is best will be a high-quality and safe product that produces the desired effects.
Here’s what to look for in a CBD product to ensure you are only getting the best:
As with many areas of research, there are ethical constraints around the testing of cannabis-derived products on human subjects. This means that the information available is far from conclusive, and more clinical trials are needed. However, the evidence that we do have at the moment suggests that there is great potential for the use of CBD in the management of TBI going forward.
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