Researchers are looking at CBD’s neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties for injury treatment.
CBD has shown promise for relieving symptoms of mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Anecdotal evidence, backed up by science, also suggests that it might be beneficial in helping in injury recovery.
In the past few years, many professional athletes have spoken publicly about how CBD oil helps relieve pain and discomfort, as well as assist in drug-free recovery as an alternative to opioids. It makes a lot of sense: As they stretch their bodies to the limit as they attempt to set records, the body becomes prone to injuries. This in turn can lead to musculoskeletal injuries, immune system issues, insomnia, anxiety, and more.
However, it’s not just athletes who could benefit from using CBD to help in injury recovery. CBD also shows promise for treating traumatic brain injuries caused by falls, youth sports, auto accidents, and military combat. Currently, there’s also research being conducted on CBD as a treatment candidate for other conditions that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
CBD’s Neuroprotective Properties Can Help Treat TBI
In the past decade, public awareness about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has increased, thanks to survivors speaking out and organizations like the Brain Injury Association of America observing Brain Injury Awareness Month every March. There is growing evidence that CBD may be a new way of combating TBI thanks to the compound’s neuroprotective benefits.
First, quickly: What is TBI?
The CDC defines a traumatic brain injury as a “disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury,” noting that everyone is at risk for a TBI, especially children and older adults.
TBI is a major cause of death and disability in the U.S. From 2006 to 2014, the number of TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths increased by 53%, reaching about 2.87 million in 2014. In 2014, an average of 155 people in the United States died each day from injuries that include a TBI.
Effects of TBI can include impairments related to memory, movement, vision, hearing), and emotional functioning (personality changes, depression). When consumed, CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), encouraging it to produce more natural cannabinoids.
This release of natural cannabinoids affects a wide range of physiological functions, including how we feel pain and how fast we heal.
Some studies have shown that, since CBD activates the cannabinoid receptors in your brain that are part of your body’s ECS, it can help limit nerve cell damage and promote healing by enhancing blood flow to the brain.
By activating the two receptors known as CB1 (predominantly expressed in the brain) and CB2 (primarily found on the cells of the immune system), CBD can help promote the creation of new brain cells and also regulate inflammation after brain injury.
Another review, conducted in 2006, indicated an association between neurodegeneration and the ESC.
How CBD’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties Can Affect Neurodegenerative Disorders
One study calls CBD “an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, anti-oxidant, anti-emetic, anxiolytic and antipsychotic agent,” noting that the neuroprotective potential of CBD stems from its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
Neurodegenerative diseases happen due to the loss of the function of neurons, with the most common being Alzheimer’s followed by Parkinson’s. Some main factors in neurodegenerative diseases include inflammation and immune response.
There’s no cure, unfortunately, but some medications can halt the progress of the disease and mask its symptoms.
This is where CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties come in handy.
Among its best-known benefits, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can potentially treat inflammation linked not to just Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s but hypertension, depression, arthritis, and diabetes.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, CBD produces no intoxicating side effects (unlike THC) and doesn’t build tolerance in users.
While more studies are necessary to more fully understand how CBD can help treat TBI and other neurodegenerative disorders, current research suggests it may be a useful treatment option.