NFL Legend Tackles Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) with help from Cannabidiol (CBD)
Leonard Marshall takes on head trauma and brain injury
Leonard Marshall Superbowl Champion and Cannabinoid Advocate
Leonard Marshall Former New York Giants Superbowl Champion at Metlife Stadium
Leonard Marshall Former New York Giants Superbowl Champion at Metlife Stadium -2
DENVER, April 13, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Super Bowl champion Leonard Marshall has renewed vigor since he stopped taking synthetic prescription drugs for CTE and started taking organic cannabidiol (CBD). And he’s taking a message about brain injury and head trauma prevention on the road to youth sports and health organizations.
Photos accompanying this announcement are available at:
A former All-Pro New York Giants defensive lineman, Marshall was diagnosed with CTE in 2013, years after he experienced consistent head trauma as a professional football player in the NFL. Over the years, CTE caused Marshall both physical and emotional pain and left him worried about the impact on his family.
Always a fighter, Marshall didn’t take his diagnosis sitting down. He conducted his own research about how to treat CTE, and he formed a nonprofit, Brain Unity Trust, to help other head trauma victims and raise awareness about the effects of concussions. In CBD, he found an organic supplement to a healthy lifestyle. “I was prescribed seriously intense prescription drugs for my CTE, but being on those kinds of medications, with their severe side effects, I just didn’t feel like myself,” said Marshall.
“Then, I heard reports that early studies suggested CBD (cannabidiol) could help prevent symptoms like irritability, aggression and motor impairment and I started looking into it. I was initially reluctant, because I didn’t want to add another substance to my system and I’m not into getting high. When I found out that CBD doesn’t have the side-effects of THC, I decided to try it,” continued Marshall.
Marshall discovered that hemp is high in cannabidiol which according to a US government patent is getting credit as a neuroprotectant.
“I use several CBD hemp oil products, but my favorite is Respira, which I use orally or as a vape oil. CBD vape oil is great for someone like me who is on the run. I don’t need to carry around a lot of product and it’s a way to get CBD in my system quickly when I begin to feel I need a some CBD,” said Marshall.
Some doctors and researchers are even suggesting that using CBD consistently may help prevent CTE.
“Evidence shows CBD is neuroprotective. I would have each individual take a capsule an hour or two before they play or practice. It’s better than nothing,” said Lester Grinspoon, a professor emeritus at Harvard in an interview with the Washington Post in late 2016.
A study at Johns Hopkins University which is working with Realm of Caring (ROC) is studying the effects of CBD and CTE very closely. Heather Jackson, ROC executive director said recently, “We need to get more players using it [CBD].”
Marshall was so impressed by his experience that he recently became a brand ambassador for Elixinol, a global CBD company with US-based operations in Colorado.
Retired Col. Phillip Blair (US Army) MD, a US-based CBD expert says, “The research is compelling and the increasing positive reports from CTE and brain trauma sufferers like Marshall is promising,” said Blair.
Blair says the potential is promising for both professional and youth athletes in high contact sports like football, hockey, MMA and soccer.
“As a doctor, it’s rewarding to have access to CBD which has no clinical indication of negative side effects, including addiction. The fact that CBD could possibly be a neuroprotective for CTE-prone athletes is something everyone in sports and medicine should embrace,” said Blair.
Meanwhile, less than a year after he started taking CBD, under his doctor’s care, Marshall stopped taking the prescription medications he found so difficult. “I found with CBD I had a higher pain threshold, I felt calm and finally, I felt ‘Leonard could be Leonard’ again.”
“My opinion is there’s no need for weed. CBD does the job without getting you high,” says Marshall.
He continues, “As someone who has always been concerned about what I put in my body, I prefer CBD because it’s a ‘healthy, not high’ choice and it’s a natural, plant-based product. Unlike synthetic drugs, there is no clinical evidence that you can overdose on CBD. I personally see no downside.”
But treating his own symptoms is only part of Marshall’s story and life mission. Marshall is deeply concerned about the impacts of head trauma in youth sports.
According to the CDC, almost half a million kids are treated in the emergency room for traumatic brain injury, including concussions, each year. The CDC equates that to over 5,000 filled-to-capacity school buses of kids. Blue Cross Blue Shield reported that since 2010, there has been a 71% increase in rough sports-related concussions for patients aged 10-19.
“This is literally a life-and-death matter. It’s time we start having real, honest conversations in locker rooms, doctors offices and around the dinner table about brain trauma in professional and youth sports,” said Marshall.
Hundreds of deaths and suicides by both professional and youth athletes have been attributed to CTE and its effect on decision making, chronic pain and emotions.
“If anyone understands the passion behind playing a sport despite the risks, it’s me, but I think kids need to hear more about how to play safe and what they can do to keep themselves healthy, because CTE is no joke and I don’t want to see anyone else suffer like me and my friends have. I literally wonder if I’ll be able to feed myself in 10 years, that’s terrifying,” said Marshall.
Throughout 2017, New Jersey-based Marshall will be visiting schools, youth sports organizations and health organizations to spread the word about how to prevent CTE both on and off the field. Since CTE is incurable, preventing head trauma and brain injury is imperative.
Leonard Marshall takes on head trauma and brain injury
CBD May Protect Against and Relieve Brain Injury Symptoms
During the past several years, public awareness about brain injuries has increased — thanks in part to several former professional athletes, military veterans, and accident survivors who are speaking out about effects of brain injuries, as well as a variety of brain injury awareness campaigns conducted by athletic and government organizations. 
Researchers also have been conducting studies to learn more about brain injuries, so they can understand the causes and develop new, more effective treatments. One brain injury treatment that is showing promise is cannabidiol, or CBD, which is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid molecule produced by cannabis.
What is a brain injury?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a condition that occurs when a head injury, such as a bump, blow, or jolt, causes your brain to slam into the inside of your skull, which results in brain damage.
When your brain is injured, it releases neurotransmitters and chemicals that cause inflammation, blood vessel injury, chemical imbalances, tissue damage, and cell death. These brain responses are called a “secondary injury cascade” and are responsible for many of the neurological problems associated with TBI.
Although a severe TBI can be deadly or cause lifelong complications, even a mild TBI — which is commonly called a concussion — can cause symptoms that can last for days or weeks.
Repeated TBIs can cause a buildup of Tau protein, which can lead to a degenerative neurological condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families because it can cause a variety of symptoms that affect memory, emotions, behavior, movement, and mental functioning.
CBD May Offer Neuroprotective Benefits
In 1998, researchers published the results of a study on rats that demonstrated the neuroprotective benefits of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which are two of the cannabinoids found in cannabis.  Although more research is required to fully understand the neuroprotective effects of CBD, recent studies have shown that CBD activates the cannabinoid receptors in your brain that are part of your body’s natural endocannabinoid system.
A 2011 study of mice found that endocannabinoid levels are elevated during and after a TBI, which suggests that the endocannabinoid system plays an important neuroprotective role. 
Other animal studies also have shown that activating the cannabinoid receptors in your brain may help to limit nerve cell damage and promote healing by enhancing blood flow to the brain.  In a 2002 study, researchers found that mice that were genetically engineered to lack CB1, a cannabinoid receptor found in the brain, had more severe brain damage and cognitive deficits after a TBI when compared to mice that had the CB1 receptor.
Activating another cannabinoid receptor in the brain, called CB2, has been shown to promote the creation of new brain cells, as well as regulate inflammation after brain injury. A 2014 animal study found that mice that were genetically engineered to lack a CB2 receptor had worse outcomes after TBI when compared to mice that had a CB2 receptor. The study also found that the lack of a CB2 receptor impaired the creation of new brain cells.
And, CBD may also affect your glial cells, which insulate your neurons and facilitate your brain’s immune response after injury. Research shows that CBD seems to have the strongest effect on two types of glial cells: astrocytes and microglia. A 2017 animal study showed that CBD suppressed the activity and swelling caused by astrocytes;  another 2017 study showed that stimulating cannabinoid receptors in the brain suppressed inflammation caused by microglia in rats.
The Benefits of the “Entourage Effect”
Because full-spectrum CBD contains a variety of phytocannabinoids, it produces an “entourage effect” that engages both the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain — as well as other cannabinoid and non-cannabinoid receptors throughout your body — for maximum neuroprotective and overall health benefits.
Although further research is needed, some studies suggest that when CBD is used shortly before or within 12 hours of a brain injury, it may help to prevent or limit the damage that occurs after a TBI during the secondary injury cascade.
Anecdotal Evidence and Research Support CBD Use for TBI and CTE
Although CBD has shown promise for brain injury treatment in the research lab, anecdotal evidence also is strong — especially among some former professional athletes in sports with a high risk of head injuries, such as boxing and football.
Many professional athletes have spoken out about the benefits of CBD for the treatment of TBI and CTE symptoms, saying that it helped to regulate their mood, improve physical function, and reduce or eliminate their use of prescription painkillers and other medications.
Unlike many prescription pain medications, CBD is non-addictive and will not lead to overdose. CBD does not cause side effects and will not result in increased tolerance that requires higher doses to achieve the same effect. CBD also can be used to treat other health conditions that are common in athletes, such as chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
But although anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD may be safe and effective for professional athletes, it also may show promise for the treatment of TBIs caused by youth sports, falls, car accidents and military combat injuries. And, researchers are investigating CBD as a potential treatment for other conditions that affect the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and HIV-associated dementia.
Researchers are hoping to conduct further studies on CBD and how it can be used to treat TBI and CTE, as well as develop dosing and safety recommendations for CBD use. But in the meantime, many people who have experienced TBI or have been diagnosed with CTE are using CBD to treat the symptoms of their condition — often with life-changing results.
During the past several years, public awareness about brain injuries has increased — thanks in part to several former professional athletes, military veterans, and accident survivors who are speaking out about effects of brain injuries, as well as a variety of brain injury awareness campaigns conducted by athletic and