Cbd oil for brain swelling

5 Ways CBD Affects Your Brain

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive chemical made by cannabis plants. In most cannabis plants, CBD is the second most common chemical produced. THC is the most common chemical produced by most cannabis plants. Though many people think about THC when they think about marijuana, CBD is becoming more popular due to its numerous health benefits.

Relieves Anxiety and Depression

Many people are familiar with marijuana’s ability to help alleviate anxiety. While THC helps some people feel more relaxed and calm, it can actually increase anxiety in other people. This has led researchers to examine CBD as a treatment for anxiety and depression instead.

For instance, in one study, researchers examined the effects of CBD on the brain and anxiety levels. The researchers discovered that CBD reduces blood flow to areas of the brain linked with anxiety, such as the hypothalamus, which usually become overactive in people with anxiety disorders. It was also found that CBD reduced overall anxiety, with participants reporting lower anxiety levels after having received the chemical.

CBD may also be effective as an antidepressant. CBD appears to work by balancing the dysfunction in the endocannabinoid system in people with depression. Additionally, CBD has been found to work on a serotonin receptor that influences depression symptoms.

These studies have opened doors for both patients and clinicians. While antidepressants can take weeks to work and cause side effects, CBD works immediately without many side effects.

Protects Brain Cells from Harm

Although many believe that marijuana damages the brain, studies indicate that some components of cannabis, such as CBD, can actually protect brain cells from harm. In fact, in 1999, the United States Department of Health and Human Services actually obtained a patent for the neuroprotective effects of cannibinoids. The patent states that cannabis and its chemical properties can protect brain cells in individuals with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other types of dementia.

CBD’s neuroprotective effects are related to its effect on CB2 receptors in the brain. CBD acts on CB2 receptors to create anti-inflammatory responses in immune cells located in the brain. This reduces the extent to which damage to the brain is caused by inflammation.

Oxidation contributes to brain tissue damage and is partly responsible for the brain damage seen in individuals with conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Research indicates that CBD acts on CB2 receptors to decrease oxidative damage.

Activates the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is comprised of CB1 receptors, which are mainly located in the brain, and CB2 receptors, which are mostly located on immune cells. Chemicals like THC and CBD activate the endocannabinoid system when marijuana is consumed. THC binds with CB1 receptors in the brain, producing psychoactive effects, such as pain relief, heightened mood, short-term memory impairments, and hunger.

Unlike THC, CBD does not activate CB1 receptors. That’s why CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects. Rather, CBD interacts with CB1 receptors in a way that inhibits chemicals, such as THC, from binding to CB1 receptors. CBD decreases many of the psychoactive effects THC can have, such as memory problems and anxiety.

Additionally, CBD increases anandamide levels within the brain. Anandamide is one of the few natural cannabinoids made in the body. Anandamide has a part in regulating other chemicals in the brain like dopamine and serotonin.

Relieves Inflammation and Pain

Cannabis has been used to alleviate pain for thousands of years. While the pain-killing ability of THC has long been known, studies indicate that CBD can effectively relieve pain as well. CBD helps manage pain by acting on CB2 receptors, which are mainly located on immune cells. The CB2 receptors are responsible for managing some cellular functions.

One of the cellular functions CB2 receptors are responsible for managing is suppressing the inflammation response created by immune cells. CBD decreases the amount of inflammatory molecules, such as chemokines and cytokines, that are present at sites of inflammation. CBD’s ability to decrease inflammation peripherally helps block pain signals from going to the brain.

Fights Psychosis and Seizures

CBD can also be effective in managing epilepsy. CBD seems to manage seizures by lowering the degree of excitation of cells in the brain that play a part in seizures. CBD stops the brain mechanisms that contribute to seizures by enhancing the release of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.

CBD also has antipsychotic effects. CBD increases anandamide in the brain. Increased levels of anandamide in the brain have been associated with decreases in psychotic symptoms.

CBD possesses numerous health benefits and can help manage both medical and mental health conditions. If you are interested in using cannabis to help manage your health, please call LifeBoost to pre-qualify for the use of medical cannabis.

CBD May Protect Against and Relieve Brain Injury Symptoms

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.

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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. [2] 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. [3]

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. [4] 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; [5] 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.

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CBD & Brain Damage: Can CBD Help With Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

Recent research has shown promising results of cannabidiol (CBD) as an effective treatment for a wide range of symptoms due to traumatic brain injury.

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects over 69 million people around the world each year [1].

Survivors of traumatic brain injuries face a range of long-term difficulties including physical impairment, cognitive difficulties, personality changes, and mental illness, not to mention the emotional stress endured during recovery.

Unfortunately, most treatments and medications are ineffective and come with a host of unwanted side effects.

This is where CBD may be able to help. There’s evidence it can alleviate a wide range of health conditions related to TBI — such as epileptic seizures, anxiety, sleep disorders and inflammation of the brain.

Here, we discuss TBI and the potential role of CBD in managing recovery and improving quality of life.


Carlos G. Aguirre, M.D., Pediatric Neurologist

Updated on November 13, 2021

Table of Contents
  • Can CBD Oil Help With Traumatic Brain Injury?
  • Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI):
  • Common Types of Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injury
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Can CBD Oil Help With Traumatic Brain Injury?

The hours and months following TBI are a critical time of ever-changing biochemical events in the brain. Research has discovered that the endocannabinoid system modulates several of the key secondary injury cascades following TBI.

Given its multiple positive effects, CBD can be beneficial for TBI patients that have found medications such as opiates, anticonvulsants, or antidepressants inadequate in treating their symptoms.

Of course, it’s important that you first discuss with your doctor before taking any other drugs or treatments while rehabilitating from a serious head injury.

Evidence has shown that the ECS is activated in response to injury and trauma, suggesting that it’s a significant part of the brain’s repair mechanisms. For example, CBD has been found to have neuroprotective effects in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.

Promising studies in mice have found that short term (2-7 days) treatment with CBD prevents cognitive and emotional impairment, and continues to reduce neuroinflammation for a further 21 days after TBI [3].

The potential benefits of CBD oil for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) includes:

  • Protects the brain cells from damage
  • Reduces inflammation in the brain
  • Alleviates anxiety & depression
  • Alleviates chronic pain

1. Protects The Brain Cells From Damage

Advances in neuroscience research have revealed the mechanisms that lead to TBI’s neurological symptoms such as poor motor control, cognitive decline and post-traumatic epilepsy.

Multiple changes occur to neuronal circuits of the brain within minutes after head trauma. While damage to brain cells starts immediately after the event, other changes in neurotransmitters can happen gradually, particularly after mild impact.

Neurotransmitters influence neurons in one of three ways:

  • Excitatory — increases activity
  • Inhibitory — decreases the activity
  • Modulatory — can either increase or decrease the activity

Glutamate is a major excitatory neurotransmitter, and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter. It’s crucial that these two neurotransmitters remain in balance for the brain to function normally.

Within the first hour after a TBI event, glutamate responds in either of two ways:

  1. Glutamate is released immediately following the injury and something known as glutamate-induced neurotoxicity occurs, causing neuronal injury, cell death and dysfunction of the surviving neurons.
  2. Glutamate release is delayed, this leads to cognitive and motor (muscle) dysfunction.

This neurotransmitter disruption initiates a cascade of events that wreak havoc on normal cellular function.

New research has found that CBD can protect against this glutamate-induced cell death, by reducing oxidative stress and preserving brain cells, leading to faster healing and recovery [4].

2. Reduces Inflammation In The Brain

The ECS system plays an important role in the regulation of inflammation, and CBD has long been recognized for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

In TBI, an immediate inflammatory response occurs, causing significant neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration — neuro, as in neurons in the brain. Damage to the brain causes activation of microglial. These specialized cells are macrophages that clean up any dead neurons and release inflammatory chemicals. Acute neuroinflammation is meant to limit further injury to the brain and start the repair process.

Chronic neuroinflammation, which can be one of the side effects of brain injuries, leads to prolonged microglial activity. This results in increased oxidative stress and neuronal damage or death.

The cannabinoids exert their anti-inflammatory effects in a few different ways, including:

  • Lowering excitotoxicity (glutamate-induced)
  • Inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death to remove diseased or damaged cells)
  • Enhancing vasodilation (improving blood flow to the area to speed healing)
  • Decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokines (reducing overall inflammation in the brain)
  • Inhibition of cell proliferation (preventing further destruction of the brain tissue)

3. Alleviates Anxiety & Depression (Side-Effects of TBI)

Individuals with TBI frequently suffer from behavioral issues, anxiety, and depression.

In fact, two-thirds of TBI patients receive antidepressant medications during their rehabilitation [5].

Depression may result from changes in neurotransmitter levels, post-injury, in the brain. An emotional response to the TBI can also influence mental health, as the person struggles with a temporary or permanent disability, loss of employment, or family/social issues.

Whether depression is caused by the initial injury or a combination of both injury and the resulting stress of recovery, CBD is well studied for its calming action without the psychoactive effects of THC [6].

It’s thought that one of the primary ways CBD works to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety is by inhibiting the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters. However, it is important to note that CBD only has these effects on certain parts of the brain [7].

Now that we’ve explained the benefits of CBD, let’s take a look at TBI in a little more detail and how CBD can be used to help.

What is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

TBI usually occurs as a result of a violent blow or jolt to the head or body, caused by an external force.

Causes commonly include:

TBI can be incredibly complex — the injury severity, location, type, individual’s age, and gender, all make up a unique brain picture, with no two TBI’s the same.

TBI can range from mild to severe — the latter resulting in permanent brain damage that can lead to lifelong disability. Outcomes of brain injuries vary between individuals — often leading to more than just the physical impairments, but also significant behavioral and emotional side-effects.

Primary brain injury is the damage that occurs to the brain after the initial impact. However, a cascade of events may trigger secondary injury resulting in ongoing cellular damage to the brain, which is responsible for many of the neurological issues associated with TBI.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI):

Symptoms of TBI Varies Depending on What Region is Affected
  1. Injury to the frontal lobes will cause changes in behavior and loss of cognitive functions.
  2. Injury to the cerebellum will cause loss of balance and coordination.
  3. Injury to the brainstem causes changes in heart rate and arousal.

Symptoms of mild to moderate TBI can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and amnesia — these injuries usually resolve within days to weeks after the incident. In some cases, these injuries can also lead to long-term neurological issues.

How is TBI Diagnosed?

TBI can range from mild to severe brain damage.

Therefore, the importance of accurately assessing the severity of a TBI is vitally important for prognosis and management.

The management of major TBI may require surgery to remove blood clots, repair skull fractures, and relieve pressure from the skull. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to determine the extent of brain injury.

The most commonly used clinical test to assess the severity of TBI is the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS).

The GCS is a neurological scale, in which patients are scored on the basis of clinical symptoms, and the resulting overall score classifies their injury as:

For the following months after the injury, patients are often vulnerable to developing behavioral, mood and anxiety disorders.

Current Treatment Options for TBI

There are no standardized treatments for TBI. Treatments are determined by the prescribing doctor based on the symptoms that present.

Once a patient is stable, depending on symptoms, treatment usually relies on prescription ‘psychotropic’ medications — meaning, drugs that affect a person’s mental state.

Treatment can be a combination of drugs and may involve some trial and error.

Common Medications for Traumatic Brain Injury:

  • Narcotic analgesics (oxycodone, fentanyl, tramadol, morphine, methadone)
  • Antidepressants (sertraline, fluoxetine, citalopram)
  • Anxiolytics (alprazolam, diazepam, estazolam)
  • Hypnotics (temazepam, flurazepam)
  • Stimulants (amphetamines, caffeine)
  • Antipsychotics (quetiapine, cariprazine, lurasidone)
  • Antiparkinson agents (levodopa, amantidine)

Most pharmaceutical options remain ineffective — and often come with unwanted side effects. CBD interacts with many drugs, so always check with a doctor before using it as a treatment.

Common Side Effects of Medications:

  • Weight gain
  • Blurred vision, dry mouth
  • Muscle spasms or tremors
  • Low mood
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Drowsiness
  • Increased risk for diabetes mellitus (type 2), coronary heart disease, and stroke
Common Types of Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injury

Patients with TBI can benefit from a multifaceted approach to treatment, with therapies including:

What Dose of CBD Oil Should I Take?

If you’re using CBD oil for the first time, it’s important to start with a low dose and increase the dosage gradually.

As we are all different, the dosage will vary with each individual. Start low, and go slow.

Use our CBD oil dosage calculator to find the optimal dose for you based on your weight and desired level of effects.

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