Traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to various reasons affect millions of people world over every year. People who survive this, experience lifelong difficulties like personality changes, physical impairment, cognitive difficulties, emotional stress during recovery, etc. Most of the regular medical treatments available cannot completely cure the conditions, and there is the issue of unwanted side effects. However, the therapeutic and medical benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) like its anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsive, anxiolytic effects, etc., make it useful for treating the conditions arising due to TBI. Read on to know more about it.
What Is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
Traumatic brain injuries usually happen due to violent blows to the head or the body by an external force, and some of the common causes are falls, motor accidents, contact sports, physical assault, etc. The severity due to TBI depends on factors like the location of the injury, individual’s age, and the cause. It can range from mild to severe, and severe cases often result in permanent brain damage, leaving the individual with a lifelong disability. The outcome of the injuries varies among individuals, in some cases, it will cause one or more physical disabilities, while in others there will be emotional and behavioral side effects.
There are two stages for traumatic brain injury (TBI), primary brain injury and secondary brain injury. The primary brain injury happens after the initial impact, and the cascade of events results in cellular damage to the brain. This is secondary brain damage, and it is the reason for many neurological issues associated with TBI. There are mainly three types of brain injuries and they are listed below.
- Frontal lobe injury, which causes behavioral changes and loss of cognitive functions.
- Injury to the cerebellum that results in loss of balance and coordination.
- Brainstem damage that causes changes to heart rate and arousal.
Symptoms Of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Sleep disorders
- Severe pain
- Muscle spasticity
- Mood swing
- Learning and memory impairment
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Seizures and convulsions
CBD benefits are useful in managing the symptoms listed above due to cannabidiol’s positive effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
CBD Benefits For Treating Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
CBD is a cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant, and legally available cannabidiol products are made from hemp or cannabis Sativa plant. CBD, along with THC are the two major cannabinoids naturally found in the hemp plant, and these cannabinoids have molecular structure and function like the endocannabinoids naturally produced by our body.
CBD is useful for treating a wide variety of ailments due to its therapeutic and medical benefits, combined with a lack of psychotropic effects. Unlike THC, it is relatively safer at higher doses without causing any adverse side effects. Above all, CBD’s neuroprotective effects make it effective for treating the symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. Therefore, it is also useful for treating the symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Neuroprotective Effect Of CBD
After traumatic brain injury, brain cell damage starts immediately, and multiple changes occur in neuronal circuits within minutes of the incident. One of the major excitatory neurotransmitters is Glutamate, and within the first hour of the TBI incident, it reacts in either of the two ways. In the first scenario, Glutamate is released immediately after the injury, and this causes cell damage or death. In the second scenario, Glutamate is not released immediately, causing cognitive or motor dysfunction. Cannabidiol (CBD ) is useful because it reduces damage due to oxidative stress because of its neuroprotective effect. Also, there is the added benefit of cannabidiol promoting accelerated healing of neuronal damage.
Anti-Inflammatory Effect Of CBD
CBD imparts its therapeutic and medical benefits by combining with CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). These receptors are associated with the immune system. Inflammation is an immune system response to injuries, and this is the reason for CBD’s anti-inflammatory effect. After TBI, there will be immediate neuroinflammation causing neurodegeneration. This is due to the activation of microglial cells that clean-up dead neurons, and they release inflammatory chemicals. Also, in the case of chronic inflammation, microglial activity is prolonged, and this increases damage due to oxidative stress. CBD is useful as it reduces damage due to oxidative stress and has anti-inflammatory effects.
Anxiolytic And Antidepressant Effects Of CBD
Anxiety and depression are two behavioral issues many TBI victims suffer, and this is mainly due to the changes in neurotransmitter levels in the brain post TBI. They are usually prescribed psychiatric drugs to manage these conditions. CBD is useful due to its anxiolytic and antidepressant effects which it imparts by influencing the ECS. Cannabidiol acts as a reuptake inhibitor of neurotransmitters serotonin and anandamide, which increases their levels in the brain. This improves mood and emotional wellbeing by reducing emotional stress, especially during the recovery from TBI.
More research and human trials are required to better understand the effectiveness of cannabidiol (CBD)in treating the symptoms due to traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the future looks hopeful.