Cannabis Can Help Those Suffering From Traumatic Brain Injury
The threat of experiencing a traumatic brain injury is very real, and can happen to anyone one of us.
Sports related brain injuries and cannabis have been in the news a lot lately, and rightfully so. Brain injuries at all levels of sports competition are common, and considering how many people play sports in America, it's something that needs to be taken very seriously.
And unfortunately, vehicle accidents, falling down, or experiencing other forces to the head resulting in injury, are also a major factor.
The statistics of traumatic head injury occurrences are mind-blowing.
It is estimated as many as 1.7 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury in any given year according to the Center for Disease Control.
Of those cases, roughly 275,000 result in hospitalization, with as many as 52,000 resulting in the death of the patient after they suffer a traumatic brain injury.
Adults over 75 years old have the highest rates of traumatic brain injury related hospitalization and death, with falls being the leading cause of the injury.
Focus is needed on treatment in addition to prevention
Education on how to reduce the incidents of traumatic brain injury is invaluable.
But, prevention alone is not enough, as accidents will continue to happen and people will continue to be hurt as a result.
Several studies have shown cannabis to be effective in treating traumatic brain injury. More so than many other treatments.
For a long time, it was rumored that cannabis kills brain cells, and in the process, makes people dumber.
This myth, is one of the reasons using cannabis to treat traumatic brain injury has taken so long to be studied.
The reality is, cannabis can help grow new brain cells.
If head trauma could happen to anyone of us, and if cannabis can help, who wouldn’t want to know more about this treatment?
Here's what the science reveals so far.
Using cannabis dramatically reduces the mortality rate for people who suffered a traumatic brain injury
In 2014, a study was conducted at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute looked specifically at mortality rates among 446 people who had suffered a traumatic brain injury, investigating specifically if cannabis played a role in reducing the mortality rate for patients.
Researchers collected urine samples from all of the patients, the population of which excluded people under 15 and patients who were suffering from a separate 'suspected nonsurvivable injury.'
Of the 446 patients, 82 tested positive for THC, a cannabinoid found in cannabis. Researchers then compared mortality rates between the two groups.
The results were eye opening, and undeniable. The group with no THC in their system had a mortality rate of 11.5%. The group with THC in their system had a mortality rate of only 2.4%.
That's a reduction in mortality of almost 80 percent!
What do other studies show about cannabis and traumatic brain injury?
There are several other studies which have found evidence that cannabis can help treat traumatic brain injuries.
According to a study conducted at the Hebrew University in Israel, a synthetic version of a cannabinoid (2-Arachodonoyl glycerol) produced in the brains of many animals was shown to protect mice from brain injury.
Researchers observed that after a brain injury, the brain increased production of this naturally occurring cannabinoid.
When researchers provided more of the cannabinoid (albeit in synthetic form), it correspondingly provided and increased protection for the brain.
Another study looked at patients who were dealing with intracerebral hemorrhaging (ICH), commonly referred to as 'bleeding in the brain.'
The study also looked at patients' past cannabis use. It was determined that roughly 10% of patients with bleeding in the brain had been using cannabis previously.
Taking this into account, researchers concluded that although there was no relationship between cannabis use and specific ICH characteristics, CB+ patients had milder ICH presentation and less disability at discharge.
To put it into layman's terms, cannabis users fared better than non-cannabis users when it came to recovering from bleeding in the brain due to a traumatic brain injury.
Why studying cannabis and traumatic brain injury is important
Direct and indirect medical costs related to traumatic brain injury amounts to 60 billion dollars annually in America.
Far worse than the economic ramifications of the injuries, is the toll it takes on people's lives, and those of their loved ones who are often the ones tasked with providing long term care.
Considering the scientific studies, it is clear cannabis can positively impact the long term effects of traumatic brain injuries.
And, more research is needed to help describe and define the role of cannabis in the aiding and healing in patients who have suffered brain injuries.
If cannabis works, and is safer, why would anyone oppose more research?
Would you use cannabis to treat a traumatic brain injury?