The media has cast a spotlight on the degenerative damage done to the brain from playing football. Films like Concussion and a Frontline investigative documentary brought the issue of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) into the consciousness of the general public. CTE can cause behavioral problems, mood disorders, problems thinking, aggression, depression, and oftentimes it develops into dementia. With all the widespread awareness, not much progress has been made in relieving these symptoms outside of pharmaceutical drugs that are largely ineffective and plague patients with side effects.
It is time to cast the spotlight on the solution to CTE.
One rarely discussed but highly effective and promising solution comes in the form of cannabidiol, or CBD. New studies are showing that the neuroprotective and neurogenerative properties of CBD may be able to help those suffering from traumatic brain injury, a message many former NFL players echo. Until recently, it was thought that neurogenesis—the growth of new nervous tissue—wasn’t feasible during adulthood. Now, however, scientists have found that not only is it possible, but it may be enhanced by the ingestion of CBD1.
This has prompted researchers at Johns-Hopkins University to begin a study that is exploring if CBD can prevent the development of CTE or at least delay its development and manage symptoms. The neuroprotective effects of CBD by its action on the CB1 receptor may help with other neurodegenerative diseases besides CTE2. CBD is being researched for its ability to treat everyone from stroke patients to patients with Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s Disease. Inflammation causes many of these diseases to progress and their symptoms to worsen. It is hypothesized that cannabidiol can reduce that inflammation.
CBD is also a miracle elixir for ailments such as anxiety. It is known that CBD acts on the 5-HT1A receptor, a serotonin receptor3. Serotonin is an important chemical in the body and having low levels of serotonin can result in anxiety and depression. One study showed that CBD helped patients with Generalized Social Anxiety deliver public speeches. Those treated with CBD showed significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance while a placebo group presented higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort4.
The discovery of the endocannabinoid system and CBD is celebrated by the medical community as an advancement in our understanding of human biology. As more attention is drawn to CBD we will continue to better understand its role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A single compound derived from cannabis, CBD may just revolutionize modern medicine.
- Campos et al. The anxiolytic effect of cannabidiol on chronically stressed mice depends on hippocampal neurogenesis: involvement of the endocannabinoid system.Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013;16(6):1407-19.
- Stress regulates endocannabinoid-CB1 receptor signaling. Semin Immunol. 2014;26(5):380-8.
- Russo et al. Agonistic properties of cannabidiol at 5-HT1a receptors.Neurochem Res. 2005;30(8):1037-43.
- Bergamaschi et al.Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients.Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219–1226.