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Study: Cannabinoids May Help Treat Traumatic Brain Injury

Cannabinoids may provide a potential treatment option for traumatic brain injury, according to new research.

The study was published in the latest issue of the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, and published online by the U.S. National Institute of Health.

“The endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) system regulates a diverse array of physiological processes and unsurprisingly possesses considerable potential targets for the potential treatment of numerous disease states, including two receptors (i.e., CB1 and CB2 receptors) and enzymes regulating their endogenous ligands N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide) and 2-arachidonyl glycerol (2-AG)”, states the study’s abstract.

“Increases in brain levels of endocannabinoids to pathogenic events suggest this system plays a role in compensatory repair mechanisms.”

It continues; “Traumatic brain injury (TBI) pathology remains mostly refractory to currently available drugs, perhaps due to its heterogeneous nature in etiology, clinical presentation, and severity. Here, we review pre-clinical studies assessing the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids and manipulations of the endocannabinoid system to ameliorate TBI pathology.”

Specifically, the study notes, “manipulations of endocannabinoid degradative enzymes, CB1 and CB2 receptors, and their endogenous ligands have shown promise in modulating cellular and molecular hallmarks of TBI pathology such as; cell death, excitotoxicity, neuroinflammation, cerebrovascular breakdown, and cell structure and remodeling.”

TBI-induced behavioral deficits, such as learning and memory, neurological motor impairments, post-traumatic convulsions or seizures, and anxiety “also respond to manipulations of the endocannabinoid system.”

As such, “the endocannabinoid system possesses potential drugable receptor and enzyme targets for the treatment of diverse TBI pathology.”

The study concludes by stating that; “Promising classes of compounds, such as the plant-derived phytocannabinoids, synthetic cannabinoids, and endocannabinoids, as well as their non-cannabinoid receptor targets, such as TRPV1 receptors, represent important areas of basic research and potential therapeutic interest to treat TBI.”

This study certainly isn’t the first to find cannabinoids to be useful for traumatic brain injury.

For example, a 2015 study published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology found that activation of the body’s cannabinoid receptors can rescue learning and memory after a traumatic brain injury.

A 2014 study published by the American Journal of Surgery came to the conclusion that “A positive THC screen is associated with decreased mortality in adult patients sustaining TBI [traumatic brain injury].”

And a 2013 Cerebral Cortex study found evidence that activation of the body’s cannabinoid receptors may lead to neuroprotective benefits which can help heal the brain after a traumatic injury.

About Anthony Martinelli

Anthony, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheJointBlog, has worked closely with numerous elected officials who support cannabis law reform, including as the former Campaign Manager for Washington State Representative Dave Upthegrove. He has also been published by multiple media outlets, including the Seattle Times. He can be reached at TheJointBlog@TheJointBlog.com.

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