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Marijuana's Neuroprotective Mechanisms

Marijuana’s Neuroprotective Mechanisms

marijuana's neuroprotective propertiesHave you wondered about Marijuana’s Neuroprotective Mechanisms? Well here’s one story:

Eight years ago my son suffered a traumatic brain injury after a skiing accident at Big Bear. The first day his body seized so severely that he needed a continuous mega dose of propyphal to calm him. He was on life support and the doctors could not determine what was wrong with him. He spent 3 days in the hospital.

The first day the doctors said he might have diffuse axonal injury. That has a terrible prognosis. Only 5% of people go on to have a normal life after that diagnosis. But miraculously he did regain consciousness the next day.

He had clearly damaged something in his brain that deals with memory. Because, once the breathing tube was removed, we realized he couldn’t remember something that happened just a few minutes earlier! In addition, he was overly emotional about the simplest things. But over a period of weeks he got better!

However, for the past 8 years he has struggled with seizures. At first he only had a few per year, then he had one a month, then he had one or two per week. Finally, he went into a epilepsy clinic where they put electrodes in his brain and found out the seizures were emanating from his left hippocampus.  A year later he made the decision to have that portion of his brain removed.

Now, let me talk about why, perhaps, he had such a great recovery. The morning of the accident he had smoked pot before skiing. He was a regular pot smoker.  I would have never thought that could have been a beneficial thing for his brain but perhaps my assumptions are incorrect. My daughter is a researcher at SDSU and has specialized in brain research.  She wonders, based on this article, if Marijuana’s Neuroprotective Mechanisms could actually be part of his wonderful recovery.

Just recently she sent me this article:


Interestingly, THC, administered prior to a traumatic insult in human case studies and animal models has had measurable neuroprotective effects. In a 3-year retrospective study of patients who had sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), decreased mortality was reported in individuals with a positive Δ9-THC screen. In mouse models of CNS injury, prior administration of Δ9-THC provided impairment protection.[105]


CBD is recognized as a nonpsychoactive phytocannabinoid. Both human observational and animal studies, however, have demonstrated a broad range of therapeutic effects for several neuropsychiatric disorders. CBD has positive effects on attenuating psychotic, anxiety, and depressive-like behaviors. The mechanisms appear to be related to the CBD’s benefit to provide enhanced neuroprotection and inhibition of excessive neuroinflammatory responses in neurodegenerative diseases and conditions. Common features involving neuroprotective mechanisms influenced by CBD—oxidative stress, immune mediators, and neurotrophic factors—are also important in conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), postconcussion syndrome, depression, and anxiety. Many studies confirm that the function of the ECS is markedly increased in response to pathogenic events like trauma.

This fact, as well as numerous studies on experimental models of brain trauma, supports the role of cannabinoids and their interactions with CB1 and CB2 as part of the brain’s compensatory and repair mechanisms following injury. Animal studies indicate that posthead injury administration of exogenous CBD reduces short-term brain damage by improving brain metabolic activity, reducing cerebral hemodynamic impairment, and decreasing brain edema and seizures. These benefits are believed to be due to CBD’s ability to increase anandamide.[109]

Click to access full abstract of this study:  Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids

Table 1

Conditions and Diseases in Which Activation of The ECS has Shown Benefit[]

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So this is a very CURRENT review of the existing research that has been done on THC/CBD.   Could it be that my son’s pot smoking before skiing could have actually played a role in his recovery? According to this study it’s quite likely.

Marijuana's Neuroprotective Mechanisms
My son is now 9 weeks past his surgery and has not suffered with another seizure.  He had no deficits after the surgery. We think that the right hippocampus took over the work that the left one had been doing for years.  I hope he goes on to live a long healthy life.  However, a word of caution. ALWAYS wear your helmet when you ski. Don’t count on marijuana’s neuroprotective mechanisms to save you from a traumatic brain injury! (-;)

Get your medical cannabis recommendation by contacting Dr. Bob Blake. He can give you some wonderful ideas about how best to use this amazing plant.

Post by Andrea Barnes

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