Use of Cannabis for Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury is the most frequent cause of death in young adults and children in the United States and is an important cause of death and disability worldwide. These injuries have severe consequences on the lives of those affected; however, recent research indicates that cannabis may be a therapeutic option to prevent complications.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) disrupts the normal function of the brain. During the injury, a multifactorial mechanism affects neuronal metabolism, neurotransmitter release, and blood flow to the brain parenchyma. Consequently, it results in an inflammatory process that produces chemical mediators damaging the neurons.
The most frequent causes are falls, car accidents, and some intracranial alterations such as hemorrhages.
The consequences and complications of TBI include:
2. Neuroendocrine disorders (such as diabetes insipidus or hormone deficiency).
3. Post-traumatic hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid in brain cavities)
4. Psychiatric disorders (depression, anxiety, paranoia, psychosis)
8. Speech alterations
To understand how cannabis can be considered an option in treating TBI, we must remember the distribution of cannabinoid receptors.
There are high concentrations of G-protein-coupled to CB1 receptors in the nervous tissue, especially in the medial temporal lobe, striatum, and cingulate cortex. They activate through phytocannabinoids, or endocannabinoids, that inhibit the release of GABA neurotransmitter, glutamate, and acetylcholine.
The CB2 receptor is in the immune system cells, with an important relation to the anti-inflammatory effect of the plant.
How does cannabis act in Traumatic Brain Injury?
In the course of:
Through experimental models of cerebral ischemia, cannabidiol (CBD) or its analogs (cannabinoid receptor agonists) used to evaluate its effect on tissue damage.These studies found that CBD can decrease proinflammatory cytokines, microglia activation, and nitrite production. It facilitates the action of anandamide and antioxidant systems. All this increases neuronal survival while decreasing the damage caused by the inflammatory response.
Evidence indicates the endocannabinoid system may exert neuroprotective activity by inhibiting neuroinflammation and neurotransmitter release.
Medical use of cannabinoids can modulate psychiatric conditions suffered by many people following TBI, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders.
Cannabis may also be useful in treating the chronic and neuropathic pain experienced by approximately 40% of TBI patients and may help improve sleep disorders in this population.
On the other hand, research on cannabis in diseases such as Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's, shows that some compounds in the plant could potentially prevent memory loss, improve motor activity and promote neurogenesis. Such properties also benefit people with long-term sequelae after TBI.