FDA Approves Medical Cannabis for Traumatic Brain Injury

There is growing public interest in marijuana as a useful medicine for a number of physiological conditions. It should be no surprise that more doctors are asking if the noble weed may hold some answer for those with traumatic brain injury that currently need better therapeutic solutions. One study shines a brighter light on this possibility.

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is just that: damage to the brain caused by an external force. Although much of the mention of this condition has been recently related to football players and veterans of war zones, it affects people of ages, from all walks of life. Although the brain is housed in our hard, protective skull, even one sudden blow can mean profound changes for an individual.

More than two million visits to the ER each year are related to TBI events like concussion, from auto accidents, falls and assaults. Falls account for 50 percent of TBI in children under 14 years old and more than 60 percent of seniors. It is the leading cause of disability and premature death in the world. The economic impact in the United States alone has been estimated at $75 billion a year. The impact on people’s lives cannot be measured in dollars.

There have been more than 30 failed clinical trials searching for better treatments for TBI, resulting in no significant effect worthy of becoming a pharmaceutical therapy. This has had a chilling effect on similar research.

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These failed trials did all have one in thing in common: They didn’t involve cannabis. This is surprising considering that it has been shown that activating the innate cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) reduces brain swelling and neurological impairment.

Cannabinoid 2-AG is released in the brains of mice following brain injury, though not enough to protect the damaged brain. The fact that 2-AG is released naturally following a brain injury made the team question whether more would be better.

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