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CBD Improves Cognitive Function In Traumatic Brain Injury Victims, New Study Finds

Researchers report that CBD helped improve memory and other cognitive functions for those with TBI.

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a condition that results from severe head trauma. Its victims include soldiers, athletes, car accident victims, and those who take a nasty fall. 

But a new study has found that test subjects with TBI experienced an improvement in their symptoms when taking CBD.

The use of CBD to treat TBI has been a research topic for decades as medical scientists look for an effective treatment. Currently, there is no safe, universal treatment. It's hoped that CBD, which is already known to help with everything from getting better sleep to combatting the aging process, may provide a treatment option.

The new study is a positive step. Two researchers in the Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy at New York Medical College found that CBD helped improve memory and other cognitive functions for those with TBI. 

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How TBI happens

TBI occurs when people suffer a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. In the worst cases, something penetrates the skull, such as a gunshot. TBI injuries range from a concussion, which typically has short-term effects, to more severe cases. 


In addition to physical symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, and vomiting, TBI can cause cognitive issues. They include amnesia, inability to speak, mental confusion, inability to create new memories, and difficulties concentrating, thinking, and understanding.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that TBI is "a major cause of death and disability in the United States." There are about 166 TBI-related deaths in the U.S. every day. Most TBI injuries come from falls, motor vehicle crashes, assaults, and firearms (mostly self-inflicted gunshot wounds).

RELATED: Can CBD Combat Sleep Disorders?

 How CBD may be able to help alleviate TBI symptoms.

The new study, published in the journal Experimental Neurology, found that TBI patients who were given CBD experienced improvements in various areas. They included:

  • Improvement in vestibulomotor function allows people to keep their balance, stabilize their head and body during movement, and maintain posture.
  • Improvement in learning and memory cognitive performance
  • CBD applied through local delivery at the contusion site, and systematic injection reduced the volume of TBI-caused lesions
  • CBD lessened the impact of injuries to the hippocampus

The researchers also found that dual treatment involving direct application of CBD to the injury and systemic injection of CBD produced the best results.

Past studies have also found that CBD may provide effective treatment for TBI symptoms. For example, a 2020 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology associated the use of CBD with increased cerebral blood flow in the brain's memory processing regions. Reduced cerebral blood flow is a common symptom of TBI.

Also, a 2017 study from Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that mice and rats with TBI showed "significantly better recovery" when treated with cannabinoid compounds. 

In reviewing these and other studies, the Concussion Alliance wrote that "current research is pointing towards CBD serving as a neuroprotectant, possibly helping the brain heal from concussions. Findings also indicate that CBD and/or medical cannabis (marijuana) can be effective for pain management, anxiety, and insomnia, all of which are common symptoms of concussions and Post-concussion Syndrome."

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