The Green Hope: Potential Link Between Chronic Cannabis Use and Brain Protection in Athletes

In the realm of sports and athletics, the concern over brain damage resulting from repeated blows to the head has been an ever-growing shadow. However, an intriguing new study has emerged, suggesting that chronic cannabis use might hold a surprising silver lining for athletes at risk. As the debate on the therapeutic applications of cannabis continues to evolve, this groundbreaking research implies that cannabis consumption could potentially play a role in mitigating the detrimental effects of head trauma. Join us as we delve into the scientific findings that shed light on this controversial topic, offering a glimmer of hope for a safer future for athletes facing the rigors of their chosen field.

Unavoidable Contact

full contact sports and unavoidable contact

Athletes are highly susceptible to brain injuries, especially those involved in contact sports or activities with a high risk of head impacts. Concussions are one of the most common types of brain injuries in sports. They result from a sudden blow or jolt to the head that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. Another common cause of brain injury is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a progressive neurodegenerative disease linked to repetitive brain trauma, often seen in athletes involved in contact sports like football, boxing, or hockey. Over time, repeated blows to the head can lead to the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain, causing cognitive and emotional symptoms. While there is currently no cure for CTE and other brain injuries, new studies are showing cannabis consumption could have the potential to mitigate the extent of injuries caused by a blow to the head.

Chronic & Contact: A Study

will thc help with sports head injuries

As cannabis use in athletes has become more common, and in some leagues accepted, a study titled “The modulatory role of cannabis use in subconcussive neural injury,” looked to examine if chronic cannabis use would help or hinder an athlete suffering from an indirect or direct force to the head. The study, funded by Indiana University Office of the Vice President for Research and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, used 43 adult soccer players to test their hypothesis on cannabis consumption. Of the 43 players 19 were assigned to the control group with no cannabis use, while the other 24 were in the cannabis group having used cannabis at least two times a week for six months. 

The team of researchers used a soccer-heading model to replicate head injuries that were isolated from factors like fatigue or body hits typically seen during game time. The soccer-heading model simulated the impact of receiving 20 consecutive headers. This innovative approach allowed them to investigate the potential risks of oculomotor impairment and the development of neurodegenerative diseases resulting from such repeated head impacts. 

The researchers analyzed the near-point of convergence (NPC), which indicates the closest distance an individual can view before experiencing double vision. Surprisingly, non-cannabis users exhibited a continual increase in NPC up to 72 hours following the controlled heading, while cannabis users' NPC growth halted after only 24 hours, suggesting potential protective effects.

Furthermore, the study examined S100B markers, proteins associated with brain damage and neurodegenerative conditions when present in high concentrations. Remarkably, cannabis users displayed lower levels of S100B compared to their non-cannabis counterparts, implying a reduced risk of neurodegenerative impact.

While further research is needed to confirm these findings, the results show a light at the end of the tunnel for professional athletes. What once was an extreme occupational hazard could turn into a preventable and non life-threatening situation. 

Previous Studies

group of scientist to represent previous studies on cannabis and drug injuries

The study mentioned above may be one of the most recent studies to look at a positive relationship between cannabis and brain injuries, it is not the first. A comparative study from 2014 examined the toxicology reports of patients who suffered a traumatic brain injury for the presence of cannabis in the patient’s system upon arrival at the hospital. 

In 2014, researchers at the UCLA Medical Center conducted a comparative study to examine the influence of cannabis use on patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). They analyzed data of 446 toxicology reports from cases of individuals who had experienced brain trauma. The researchers were specifically looking for the presence of cannabis upon admittance to the hospital. Surprisingly, among the patients who tested positive for cannabis, an overwhelming 97.6% had successful TBI outcomes. In contrast, patients who tested negative for cannabis had a lower survival rate of 88.5%.

A review article published in 2020, looked at how well CBD protected the central nervous system, with an emphasis on how CBD could be used for recovering from a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion. The researchers concluded the research they presented in their paper does suggest CBD could be useful in recovering from a mild TBI, like a concussion. While they do admit more human research needs to be done, the data available seems to imply this particular cannabinoid could help those recovering from brain injury.

The last studies we will mention in this section are currently ongoing, but are worth mentioning for the results they could yield. In 2022, the Nation Football League (NFL) awarded money to the University of Regina (U of R) in Canada and the University of California San Diego (UCSD) for two separate studies regarding the use of cannabis in injury. The U of R will be researching the potential of using cannabinoids for the prevention and treatment of concussions, while the team at UCSD will be focusing on the effects of cannabinoids on pain and recovery from sports-related injuries. Both studies are looking at the use of the cannabinoids THC and CBD, both using them alone and in combination.

In conclusion, the emerging body of research exploring the potential relationship between cannabis and brain injuries offers intriguing insights and possibilities for future medical applications. While some studies have already shown positive outcomes regarding the influence of cannabis on traumatic brain injuries, the field is still relatively young, and further investigations are necessary to establish definitive conclusions. The ongoing studies funded by the NFL in partnership with prestigious institutions hold significant promise, with the potential to shape the future of injury management and recovery in the sports world and beyond. As scientific understanding advances and more data becomes available, we may witness a transformative shift in how we approach brain injury treatment, offering hope for improved outcomes and better quality of life for those affected. As we eagerly await the results of these studies, it is crucial to recognize the need for responsible research, open dialogue, and evidence-based approaches to ensure the safe and effective use of cannabinoids in the context of brain injury management.

Optimal Cannabinoid Consumption

cbd products to use for athletes and non atheletes

As CBD gains popularity and acceptance in society and sports alike, consumers will find themselves searching for the most convenient and effective cannabinoid delivery system. Research has shown that inhaling vapor is one of the most effective ways to introduce cannabinoids into the bloodstream and the body. The optimal device for the job is the elon® device developed here at E1011 Labs. The elon uses innovative heat-not-burn technology to turn the flower in our stelo™ pods to an inhalable vapor filled with the benefits of cannabinoids. By creating vapor instead of smoke, our device protects users from the prylotoxins created by traditional combustion methods.

Our stelo pods are prefilled and predosed with full spectrum hemp flower for ease of use. We have created a system that does not require any grinding or packing, simply insert a stelo into the elon and wait for it to heat up. Athletes and consumers alike will enjoy the multitude of flavors and effects of our CBD-rich stelo. We also offer our Ari53™, filled with infused flower, for those seeking an extra kick. New users can try out both lines, and receive a device, with our Starter Bundle for a fraction of the price. Here at E1011 Labs, we bring the future of flower to the palm of your hand.