Scientists have found CBD to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, which highlights the potential of treating concussions with CBD. We will discuss the following:
Over 10 million traumatic brain injuries occur annually that result in either hospitalization or death. Traumatic brain injuries might take long to heal, and they negatively impact daily activities of the affected patients. While the majority of these injuries are mild (concussions), they still affect patients to a certain degree.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has shown tremendous therapeutic potential in various studies. These CBD benefits include anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, which make CBD an ideal candidate for treating concussions.
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries, and they are becoming more frequent among both adults and teenagers. While most young people return to normal in 3 weeks after having suffered concussion, symptoms may linger for another 3 months thereafter in males, and up to a year in females. Post-concussion symptoms include headaches, fatigue, poor concentration, and forgetfulness.
A direct consequence of concussions is impaired blood flow in the brain, which increases calcium levels in brain cells and thereby disrupts a number of brain functions. On the other hand, CBD and cannabinoids are known for influencing the flow of calcium in the cells.
CBD inhibits the uptake of anandamide (AEA) from the cell synapsis (the gap between cells where they communicate), and this is the reason behind the neuroprotective effect of CBD. In addition, the TRPV 1 receptor controls certain mechanisms in blood vessels, and therefore the influence of CBD on TRPV 1 can protect against impaired blood flow in the brain.
In addition, CBD also acts on A2A receptors, which influence inflammation by increasing ant-inflammatory effects. CBD further provides neuroprotective effect though the 5HT1A serotonin receptor and the CB2/HT1A dimerization. This suggests a promising potential of treating concussions with CBD.
As a matter of fact, in mouse models CBD decreased the level of proteins that lead to the degeneration and the death of nerve cells. In addition, CBD also alleviated the deterioration of blood flow in the brain.
Concussions also disrupt the integrity of the blood-brain barrier. Since the blood-brain barrier is responsible for protecting the brain form hazardous materials, such as neurotoxins and immune cells, thereby protecting the integrity and the life of brain cells. Since CBD in fat soluble, it can pass the blood-brain barrier, and exert its protective effects on neurons.
Soon after a concussion, there is boost in the production of free radicals. CBD influences oxidative processes, and thereby ameliorates the presence of free radicals.
Cognitive capacity means how much information the brain can retain. Functional magnetic resonance imaging show that both THC and CBD have an effect on brain activation, albeit in opposite ways. THC decreased the activation of certain brain areas, leading to anxiety and psychotic symptoms. On the other hand, CBD did not have such effects at all.
Having said that, there is also evidence that high THC and low CBD compositions lead to impaired brain functions. However, when CBD is present in higher proportions in the products, it alleviates any negative psychological and psychiatric effects that THC might have.
While there is no direct evidence pinpointing the exact role of CBD in the regulation of blood flow after concussion, the role of the endocannabinoid system in neurovascular (blood vessels in the brain) healing is well known. This makes CBD an intriguing candidate for of treating concussions.
Additionally, those patients that have long-lasting symptoms after a concussion have reduced neural connectivity, and therefore have inferior performance in memory task, compared to patients who have no such symptoms.
Brain cells die after a concussion because of increased calcium flow into them. Since CBD impedes the function of calcium channels, scientists hypothesize that CBD both protects nerve cells and facilitates the growth of new nerve cells.
Scientists theorize that it might a real possibility of treating concussions with CBD. However, while pre-clinical and basic scientific studies are promising, there are no concluded clinical studies confirming this theory with the exception of one that is still in progress.
Singh J, Neary JP. Neuroprotection following Concussion: The Potential Role for Cannabidiol. Can J Neurol Sci. 2020 Feb 7:1-51.