How to Use CBD for Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Although, concussion awareness has increased dramatically in recent years, the efficacy of treating concussions with CBD has only recently been a part of the discussion. In fact, in 2003 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was granted a patent on “cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.”
Several medical studies have looked into treating Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) with CBD. These types of injuries are often associated with sports and are very common—it’s estimated that 1.6-3.8 million sports and recreation related concussions occur in the U.S. each year. Concussions and other brain injuries are usually treated with self-care, rehabilitation and sometimes prescription pain medications. Rather than numbing the pain with prescriptions, we suggest looking into the neuroprotective properties of CBD.
Concussion treatment is one of the most proven applications of CBD. In order to understand CBD’s neuroprotective effects, we turn to a series of medical studies that have been conducted over the past twenty years. These studies evaluated CBD’s medical efficacy in treating those who suffer from various types of traumatic brain injuries. We will address the results below.
The first study we address is actually the very same study that the U.S. Government used to substantiate their patent claim proving CBD as neuroprotectants. The 1998 study found that “cannabidiol prevented cell death” in rats induced with glutamate neurotoxicity. It goes on to conclude, “cannabidiol and other cannabinoids such as THC are potent antioxidants that protect neurons from glutamate-induced death without cannabinoid receptor activation.”
Learn more: http://www.pnas.org/content/95/14/8268
A 2012 study concluded that, “CBD administration after HI [hypoxia-ischemia] injury to newborn rats led to long-lasting neuroprotection, with the overall effect of promoting greater functional rather than histological recovery. These effects of CBD were not associated with any side effects. These results emphasize the interest in CBD as a neuroprotective agent for neonatal HI.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22659086
A 2013 study evaluated the neuroprotective potential of CBD on lab rats experiencing degeneration of both motor and sensory neurons. The study “revealed both motor and sensory neuron rescue following treatment with CBD (15 and 30 mg/kg)…The present results show that CBD possesses neuroprotective characteristics that may, in turn, be promising for future clinical use.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23981015
A 2014 study found that CBD reduces cognitive impairment artificial induced in mice. The study suggest a “protective effect of CBD on neuronal death induced by ischemia and indicate that CBD might exert beneficial therapeutic effects in brain ischemia.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24532152
A 2016 medical review succinctly stated that, “CBD affects synaptic plasticity and facilitates neurogenesis” (the growth of new neurons).
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26845349
A 2017 study “found that CBD modulates cell fate regulatory pathways such as autophagy and others critical pathways for neuronal survival in neurodegenerative experimental models, suggesting the potential benefit of CBD treatment for psychiatric/cognitive symptoms associated with neurodegeneration.”
Another 2017 found that cannabidiol (CBD) reduces brain damage and improves functional recovery. More specifically, “CBD administration after MCAO led to long-term functional recovery, reducing neuronal loss and astrogliosis, and modulating apoptosis, metabolic derangement, excitotoxicity and neuro-inflammation.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28012949
A 2018 review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids sums it best, “Animal studies indicate that posthead injury administration of exogenous CBD reduces short-term brain damage by improving brain metabolic activity, reducing cerebral hemodynamic impairment, and decreasing brain edema and seizures. These benefits are believed to be due to CBD's ability to increase anandamide.”
As supported by the studies above, CBD has neuroprotective properties that beneficial in the treatment of concussions and other conditions involving neurodegeneration.
Recommended CBD Regimen for Concussions
When formulating a CBD regimen for a specific disease or illness like traumatic brain injuries, it’s important to understand that CBD should be used regularly for maximum relief. Meaning it should be used as a preventative first – it can also be used to manage acute symptom flare ups, but the preventative maintenance is most important! Think about it like any other dietary supplement or medication, you want to establish a baseline concentration in your system.
In order to manage the symptoms associated with various brain injuries, we recommend ingesting full spectrum CBD oil daily in the form of Tinctures or Gel Capsules. The ingredients in the two products are the same; the only difference between the two is the form factor and dosage – pills vs. sublingual tinctures. We suggest those suffering from brain injuries start with 15mg per day of CBD. If relief is not felt at this dosage, we suggest increasing by 5-10mg until the desired effects are achieved. You’ll notice that the Gel Capsules are pre-filled and contain either 15mg or 25mg of CBD per pill. There is no harm in starting above the 15mg CBD threshold as you cannot overdose on CBD, nor are there any serious side effects. These ingestible products provide sustained symptom relief for several hours – many people find they provide relief for the whole day! The one thing to keep in mind with ingestible CBD products is the delayed onset time – it can take up to 90 minutes for the full effects of the tinctures or capsules to be felt.
Managing Acute Symptom Flare Ups
In addition to the daily concussion management program outlined above, many people find they still need a safe way to manage acute flare ups. Regardless of the triggers, we recommend vaporizing CBD to combat these acute flare ups. The benefit of vaporizing or dabbing CBD is that the relief can be felt almost instantaneously. We suggest either the 99% pure CBD isolate or the pre-filled CBD vaporizer cartridges because they provide a wave of relief that can be felt throughout the whole body.
A Quick Note About CBD & Drug Testing
If drug testing is a part of the conditions of your employment, you might be concerned about the potential of CBD to cause you to test positive for THC. This isn't an unfounded concern -- however, there isn't exactly a cut-and-dry way to answer it.
Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception. There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, and the ones available paint a rather murky picture: avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely.
If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you’ll need to consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. To learn more about the science of CBD and drug testing, check out our article for a more thorough discussion of how to minimize your risk of a false positive.