How Cannabis is Being Used to Treat Traumatic Brain Injuries
Brain injuries are on the rise according to The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They account for over 10 million deaths or hospitalizations around the world each year. But there may be hope in terms of new treatment utilizing cannabis, according to recent studies.
Traumatic brain injuries (or TBI’s), are usually caused by penetrating or blunt force trauma to the head. A victim who suffers from a small to severe amount of brain injury can experience psychiatric, behavioral, physical, and cognitive medical problems. Additional dangerous complications can arise after a TBI including fluid buildup, nerve damage, brain death, altered consciousness, and coma.
Traumatic brain injuries require immediate medical attention to prevent further damage and death. The treatment plan will be dependent on the severity of the injury. Many patients will need ongoing treatment and a variety of therapies. Medications used to treat traumatic brain injuries include anti-seizure medications, diuretics, coma-inducing drugs, and medical marijuana.
After a brain injury, the body may release toxic chemicals that can continue to damage the brain. These chemicals such as oxidative stress, excitotoxicity, and inflammation can cause neural death. They can also cause permanent loss of function.
Studies have shown that marijuana can protect the neural system minimizing secondary brain damage. Cannabinoids in medical marijuana interact with the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. This prevents the body from releasing proinflammatory cytokines and encourages it to release chemicals that minimize swelling.
Cannabis has been shown to combat these ailments exceptionally without inducing harmful side effects or the need for prescription medications. There are two cannabinoids in marijuana THC and CBD that can help treat traumatic brain injury.
CBD does not contain the psychoactive cannabinoid that causes you to feel “high.” Instead, it fights inflammation and produces anti-anxiety effects. Research has proven that when cannabinoids where administered immediately after the brain injury it protected long-term cognitive functions.
Cannabis can help with immediate complications of traumatic brain injury while reducing symptoms that may follow. The THC and CBD in marijuana can decrease nausea, increase appetite, decrease symptoms of depression, improve mood, and overcome insomnia.
A qualified physician experienced in treating patients with medical marijuana will choose a strain that is right for you. CBD may have a stronger effect on the brain after a traumatic brain injury. There are Indica-dominant and Sativa-dominant strains of marijuana. Indica strains are best at helping one fall asleep, while Sativa strains are beneficial for those who need to stay alert.
There are three options on how to ingest either strain of marijuana for a brain injury including vaporizing, smoking, or eating edible marijuana. While medical marijuana can be extremely beneficial, it can cause specific side effects including:
- Increased appetite
- Dry mouth
- A “high” sensation
- Short-term memory loss
However, some of the side effects of medical marijuana can be positive. Those who have insomnia will benefit from the side effect of drowsiness. If the patient has a low appetite, the increased hunger side effect will help them get the proper nutrition they need. Your doctor can help you live a better quality of life by implementing medical marijuana into your treatment plan.