How Can CBD Oil Help with Traumatic Brain Injury?

Posted on February 6, 2022

Recent research has shown promising cannabidiol (CBD) results as an effective treatment for various symptoms due to traumatic brain injury. The hours and months following TBI are critical times of rapidly occurring biochemical changes in the brain. Studies have proved that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) modulates many important secondary injury reactions following TBI.

CBD can positively affect TBI patients who have found opiates, anticonvulsants, or antidepressants inadequate in treating their symptoms. Of course, it's essential that you first discuss with your doctor before taking any other drugs or treatments while rehabilitating from a severe brain injury.

Research has shown that the ECS is a significant part of the brain's repair mechanisms, activated in response to injury and trauma. CBD has neuroprotective effects in multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease,  and epilepsy.

The potential effectiveness of CBD oil for TBI:

  • Reduces inflammation in the brain and protects brain cells from damage
  • Alleviates chronic pain, anxiety & depression

1. Protects brain cells from damage

Advances in neuroscience research have shown the mechanisms that lead to TBI's neurological symptoms, such as cognitive decline, poor motor control, and epilepsy post-TBI.

Multiple changes occur to neuronal connections in the brain within minutes after head trauma. While destruction to brain cells starts immediately after the event, other neurotransmitter changes can happen slowly, especially after a mild impact.

Neurotransmitters affect neurons in one of the three ways:

  • Excitatory — increases activity
  • Inhibitory — decreases the activity
  • Modulatory — can either increase or reduce the activity

This neurotransmitter disruption starts a series of events that wreak havoc on normal cellular function. New studies have found that CBD can protect against glutamate-induced cell death. CBD reduces oxidative stress and preserves brain cells, leading to faster healing and recovery.

2. Reduces swelling in the brain

The ECS system has an important role in regulating inflammation, and CBD has long been recognized for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

The cannabinoids exert their anti-inflammatory effects in different ways, including:

  • Lowering excitotoxicity-glutamate-induced
  • Inducing apoptosis-programmed cell death to remove diseased or damaged cells
  • Enhancing vasodilation- improving blood flow to the area to speed healing)
  • Decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokines -reducing overall inflammation in the brain
  • Inhibition of cell proliferation-preventing further damage of brain tissue

3. Alleviates Anxiety & Depression (Side-Effects of TBI)

People with TBI frequently suffer from behavioral issues, anxiety, and depression.

Two-thirds of TBI patients get antidepressant medications during their rehabilitation.

Depression can result from post-injury changes in the brain in neurotransmitter levels. An emotional reaction to the TBI can also influence mental health, as the person struggles with the loss of employment, a temporary or permanent disability, and family or social problems.

Whether depression is caused due to the injury or combined with both injury and the stress of recovery, CBD is known for its calming action without the psychoactive effects of THC.

Studies show that the primary way CBD works to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression is by stopping the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters. However, it must be noted that CBD only affects certain parts of the brain. 

Survivors of TBIs face a range of long-term difficulties, including physical impairment, cognitive problems, personality changes, mental illness, and emotional stress during recovery.

Unfortunately, most treatments and medications are not effective with the risk of undesirable side effects. This is where CBD can be helpful. Evidence suggests that CBD alleviates a wide range of health conditions related to TBI — such as epileptic seizures, anxiety, sleep disorders, and brain inflammation.