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 neuro-protectants.” 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 neuro-protective properties of CBD.

Concussion treatment is one of the most proven applications of CBD. In order to understand CBD’s neuro-protective 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.

Study Results

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 neuro-protectants. 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.

A 2012 study concluded CBD administration after HI [hypoxia-ischemia] injury to newborn rats led to long-lasting neuro-protection, 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.

A 2013 study evaluated the neuro-protective 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 neuro-protective characteristics that may, in turn, be promising for future clinical use.

A 2014 study found that CBD reduces cognitive impairment artificial induced in mice. The protective effect of CBD on neuronal death induced by ischemia and indicate that CBD might exert beneficial therapeutic effects in brain ischemia.

A 2016 medical review succinctly stated CBD affects synaptic plasticity and facilitates neurogenesis” (the growth of new neurons).

A 2017 study found that CBD modulates cell fate regulatory pathways such as autophagy and others critical pathways for neuronal survival in neuro-degenerative experimental models, suggesting the potential benefit of CBD treatment for psychiatric/cognitive symptoms associated with neuro-degeneration.

Another 2017 found that cannabidiol (CBD) reduces brain damage and improves functional recovery. CBD administration after MCAO led to long-term functional recovery, reducing neuronal loss and astrogliosis, and modulating apoptosis, metabolic derangement, excitotoxicity and neuro-inflammation.

A 2018 review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids on animal studies indicate that post head 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 neuro-protective properties that are beneficial in the treatment of concussions and other conditions involving neuro-degeneration.

Studies

US6630507B1 – Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://patents.google.com/patent/US6630507B1/en

What is a Concussion? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.protectthebrain.org/Brain-Injury-Research/What-is-a-Concussion-.aspx

Hampson, A. J., Grimaldi, M., Axelrod, J., & Wink, D. (1998, July 07). Cannabidiol and (−)Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol are neuroprotective antioxidants. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/95/14/8268

Pazos, M. R., Cinquina, V., Gómez, A., Layunta, R., Santos, M., Fernández-Ruiz, J., & Martínez-Orgado, J. (2012, October). Cannabidiol administration after hypoxia-ischemia to newborn rats reduces long-term brain injury and restores neurobehavioral function. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22659086

Perez, M., Benitez, S. U., Cartarozzi, L. P., Del, E., Guimarães, F. S., & Oliveira, A. L. (2013, November). Neuroprotection and reduction of glial reaction by cannabidiol treatment after sciatic nerve transection in neonatal rats. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23981015

Schiavon, A. P., Soares, L. M., Bonato, J. M., Milani, H., Guimarães, F. S., & Weffort, R. M. (2014, November). Protective effects of cannabidiol against hippocampal cell death and cognitive impairment induced by bilateral common carotid artery occlusion in mice. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24532152

Campos, A. C., Fogaça, M. V., Sonego, A. B., & Guimarães, F. S. (2016, October). Cannabidiol, neuroprotection and neuropsychiatric disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26845349

Campos, A. C., Fogaça, M. V., Scarante, F. F., Joca, S. R., Sales, A. J., Gomes, F. V., Guimarães, F. S. (2017, May). Plastic and Neuroprotective Mechanisms Involved in the Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol in Psychiatric Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5441138/

Ceprián, M., Jiménez-Sánchez, L., Vargas, C., Barata, L., Hind, W., & Martínez-Orgado, J. (2017, April). Cannabidiol reduces brain damage and improves functional recovery in a neonatal rat model of arterial ischemic stroke. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28012949

Maroon, J., & Bost, J. (2018, April). Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5938896/