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Cannabis: Optimal treatment method for post-concussion syndrome symptoms

Contact sports, falls, head injuries, trauma and motor vehicle accidents all have one thing in common: traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and/or concussions. Something that many of you may not know is how concussions occur and the negative impact they have on the brain.

A concussion can be defined as a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), which can be caused by a blow to the head, a strong yet direct jolt or a powerful bump to the head or body. This results in the brain shaking and moving quickly within the skull. Generally, concussions result in changes regarding how the brain typically functions as well as various potentially life-altering health issues. Not everyone who experiences concussions develops a traumatic brain injury. However, roughly 40-80 percent of people who endure a concussion develop post-concussion syndrome.

Current post-concussion syndrome treatment options

Moreover, regarding the treatment of this syndrome, the main intention is alleviating its symptoms. In most cases, the symptoms last a few weeks or months. During this time, cannabis and cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) can be very useful. Fortunately, cannabis contains numerous medicinal properties as well as therapeutic benefits thus lessening physical, mental and psychological issues.

Besides cannabis and CBD being used as a form of treatment for post-concussion syndrome symptoms, there are other conventional treatment methods available. For example, cognitive impairments are common with post-concussion syndrome, but they can get resolved on their own with time. To help treat cognitive impairments, one option is to undergo cognitive therapy. However, numerous doctors prescribe pharmaceutical medications and physical forms of therapy to help alleviate several painful symptoms. Sadly, there’s no guarantee that these treatment methods will deliver zero side effects, nor will they be completely effective. For these reasons, more people are transitioning into alternative forms of medicine like cannabis.

Cannabis and CBD to treat post-concussion syndrome symptoms

As mentioned above, cannabis and CBD possess numerous medically and therapeutically beneficial properties. Generally, most people with post-concussion syndrome experience headaches and pain, which cannabis can relieve because of its analgesic properties. Although some pharmaceutical medications can help relieve pain, others can make headaches worse, and several can be addictive, non-effective, and deliver side effects. Whereas, cannabis and CBD are safe, non-toxic, medically beneficial, deliver little to no side effects and you cannot overdose from it.

Next, cannabis can increase the amount of blood that travels to the brain. This is especially useful since the blood brings both nutrients and oxygen to the brain thus speeding up the healing process. Cannabis can even transport toxins and other harmful byproducts away from the brain.

Then, cannabis can deliver anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties to individuals. Although cannabis isn’t a cure for post-concussion syndrome, it can significantly alleviate several unwanted symptoms while delivering very few side effects.

Optimal cannabis strains for post-concussion syndrome symptom treatment

Cannabis contains numerous medicinal properties as well as therapeutic benefits thus lessening physical, mental and psychological issues that can help treat the aftereffects of a brain injury.

Study finds medical marijuana improves concussion symptoms

Medical cannabis vapor pen

Medical cannabis tincture

A new study supports the use of medical cannabis (medical marijuana) as a treatment for concussion-related chronic pain (such as headaches) and for other concussion symptoms. The study also specifies the type of medical cannabis that provided the optimal benefit, in terms of the THC to CBD ratio, and oral tincture or vapor pen. The article was published on December 5, 2018, in the journal Neurology.

The study is from Dent Neurologic Institute (DENT) in Buffalo, NY, which has treated thousands of patients for chronic pain, and specifically 142 patients with concussion symptoms. New York State approved medical cannabis for chronic pain in 2017. The study notes that “individuals with concussion often experience discomfort from headaches.”

The researchers reviewed the charts of sixty-six patients who were treated at DENT with medical cannabis for concussion symptoms, and they plan to review a total of 100 patient charts. (This type of study is called an “ongoing retrospective analysis.”) They found that 80% of the patients “experienced significant improvement in activity level and symptoms.”

They evaluated for five common concussion symptoms: headache, mood, sleep, attention, and dizziness. The improvement was most significant with headache, mood, and sleep.

Optimal forms of medical cannabis

The form of medical cannabis that provided the “optimal benefit” to prevent or minimize longer-term symptoms was an oral tincture that was 1:1 (THC:CBD). For acute pain, which is pain that is relatively more sharp or severe, the optimal form was a vapor pen of 20:1 (THC:CBD). Therefore, the patients’ more sharp or severe pain responded to a higher amount of THC and also responded better to intake via the lungs, which is faster acting than oral ingestion.

In the experience of the Concussion Alliance community, a vapor pen does work well for quick-acting relief of headache pain, and we find 1:5 (THC:CBD) is effective. We don’t find the 1:5 ratio to be psychoactive, making it useful during the day.

Also, we’ve found that tinctures that are 1:1 (THC:CBD) work well. For more severe headache pain, a higher ration of THC to CBD is helpful. In some dispensaries, you can buy a 1:1 (THC:CBD) tincture and supplement it with a few drops of a high THC tincture.

In terms of the study by the DENT Neurologic Institute, the 20:1 (THC:CBD) vapor pen appears not to be psychoactive, even with the much higher THC ratio, as psychoactive effects were not listed as a side-effect. See our page CBD products from marijuana for additional information.

Improvement scores for concussion patients taking medical cannabis

When evaluating the concussion symptoms, the researchers use the scale ranging from 0 as “much worse” to 10 as “must better.” Moderate improvement was 7-8 on the scale, and significant improvement was 9-10 on the scale.

Mood: 63% moderate improvement, 20% significant improvement

Sleep: 53% moderate improvement, 23% significant improvement

Headache: 60% moderate improvement, 14% significant improvement

Quality of Life score: score of 46 for those using medical cannabis, score of 19 for those not yet started on medical cannabis.

The researchers used the Quality of Life After Brain Injury Score (QOLIBRI).

Side-effects were minimal

Only 15% of the patients reported side-effects, all minimal. Of these side-effects, 63% were related to disliking the poor taste of the oral tincture or experiencing cough with the vape pen. None of the patients choose to stop taking medical marijuana due to side effects.

The average monthly cost for an individual patient (for both the oral tincture and vapor pen) was $242.

A new study supports the use of medical cannabis (medical marijuana) as a treatment for concussion-related chronic pain (such as headaches) and for other concussion symptoms. The study also specifies the type of medical cannabis that provided the optimal benefit, in terms of the THC to CBD ratio, and oral ingestion or vapor pen. ]]>