How Cannabis Can Help Traumatic Brain Injury Victims
- posted: Feb. 04, 2020
Did you know that the United States records about 1.7 million Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) patients every year?
At James Newman, PC., we find statistics like that to be alarming and is proof of how serious TBI is. To show you how grim the situation has been in recent times, check out more TBI stats below –
- Over 275,000 TBI patients have to be hospitalized every year
- An estimated 52,000 death cases occur from TBI annually
- Severe disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injuries occur about 80,000 times yearly
- About 75% of TBI patients will be laid off within 3 months if they return to work without support
- A person who survives severe brain injury is likely to incur lifetime costs estimated to be around $4 million.
People who suffer severe injuries to the head are likely to experience permanent behavioral and neurological impairment and have a lower life expectancy. They may also go through post-traumatic seizures, as well as problems with learning and memory. Sadly, there is limited treatment for TBI patients with just a few medically viable options.
But all hope is not lost as scientific research and anecdotal evidence are now pointing to medical cannabis as a possible treatment for individuals with traumatic brain injury. So, if you or a loved one is currently battling TBI, keep reading to find out why you might want to consider cannabis as a treatment option.
Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury
TBI is caused by a serious injury to the head from a jolt, blow, or bump, causing the brain to forcefully collide against the interior of the skull. This eventually leads to brain damage.
Serious injury to the brain can cause it to release inflammation-inducing chemicals and neurotransmitters that also trigger tissue damage, blood vessel injury, cell death, and chemical imbalances. These series of responses from the brain that lead to many TBI-related neurological problems are known as “second injury cascade.”
Should you suffer a concussion (mild TBI), it could induce symptoms that persist for a couple of days or weeks. But in severe cases, TBI can lead to lifelong complications or even death. And people who have repeated TBIs may start to experience Tau protein buildup that eventually results in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative neurological condition. CTE can be devastating and affect not just the patient but their families due to the symptoms that it presents.
How cannabis can potentially slow TBI damage
Here’s the thing – It’s been difficult for doctors to come up with effective therapies that can help treat and manage the symptoms of traumatic brain injury.
But with the help of scientific researchers such as Professor Yosef Sarne, it is now clear that cannabis may offer a way out for patients. In 2013, the results from the study conducted by Sarne and his team from Tel Aviv University showed that administering THC could help to prevent long-term brain damage.
But that's not all. Here are some other ways that medicinal cannabis can benefit traumatic brain injury patients –
● Symptom management
TBI patients may find relief with cannabis as it can help to manage their symptoms. Research shows that cannabis-based medicines can significantly lower seizures.
Preclinical experiments involving CBD, a non-intoxicating compound gotten from the cannabis plant, have also shown that the compound has anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.
● Cannabis can protect you against traumatic injury
Did you know that having THC (the compound in cannabis that gets you high) in your system will significantly increase your survival chances if you suffer a head injury?
In the human brain, there is an abundance of endocannabinoids like THC and CBD. These molecules are naturally-occurring and help to enhance the performance of your immune and nervous systems. According to research, the body releases these endocannabinoids to protect itself from stress, even after brain injury.
The neuroprotective properties of endocannabinoids are backed by research and they help in repairing your brain and nervous system after injuries. While we are yet to see more evidence from research, the available findings from studies involving animals suggest that increasing endocannabinoid levels in the body after traumatic brain injury can help to improve patient recovery.
The cannabis plant contains CBD which helps to raise endocannabinoid levels. Also, THC from cannabis works just the same way the naturally-occurring endocannabinoids in the body do.
● Cannabis may reduce traumatic brain inflammation
Research has established that cannabis interacts with the endocannabinoid system, producing positive effects. The body can cope with stress signals from the environment with the help of the endocannabinoid system. Preclinical research shows that endocannabinoids can lower brain injury inflammation.
In the same way, THC and CBD (both cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant) are also believed to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. According to research, administering CBD treatment as soon as oxygen is lost can lower brain damage. A Pediatric Research study involving newborn pigs found that administering CBD after injury helped in the reduction of nervous system damage, brain edema, and seizures after the initial injury, among other benefits.
● New brain cell growth
Cannabis can potentially facilitate the growth of new brain cells. Traumatic brain injury usually leads to anxiety and depression but according to research, cannabis compounds can help in mood recovery after injury.
Synthetic THC was used to treat rodents in a 2005 experiment. Findings from the study showed that the regular administration of this cannabinoid happened to induce new brain cell growth in the hippocampus (an important brain region linked with memory and learning, as well as the autonomic nervous system). Depression and chronic anxiety resulting from TBI affect this brain region.
The author of the study, Xia Zang, noted that marijuana helps to promote neurogenesis, unlike other drugs. So, patients battling mental health and mood problems resulting from a traumatic brain injury can find relief with cannabis.
Anecdotal Evidence supporting CBD use for TBI
While cannabis in general and CBD in particular show promise for TBI patients in the science laboratory, we also have extensive anecdotal evidence to support these findings. We’ve seen former athletes involved in sports where there’s an increased risk of head injury speak out about how they’ve benefited from CBD.
There’s also the case of a TBI patient whose daughter wrote in a forum on Reddit about how her father was helped by cannabis. Ingesting marijuana helped him eat better, quit his meds, deal with anxiety, manage pain, and sleep better.
So, the anecdotal evidence suggests that TBIs resulting from car accidents, sports, falls, or combat may be treated with cannabis.
How TBI patients in NYC can get access to medical cannabis
According to the law in New York, people with some specified serious conditions are allowed to possess and use medicinal cannabis for treatment. As a patient, you must be living in or receiving medical care in New York State. You must also be deemed eligible and certified by a licensed physician to receive medical cannabis care.
You will be issued an ID that qualifies you to obtain approved recommended medical cannabis products from registered dispensaries.
We are here to serve TBI patients in NYC
At James Newman, PC., our empathetic and professional legal team knows how devastating traumatic brain injury can be.
If you or a loved one happens to be a TBI victim as a result of someone else’s action, we want to speak with you. A Bronx TBI lawyer at James Newman, PC., will set up a free consultation with you to discuss your claim at your request.