TBI (Traumatic brain injury)

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a brain dysfunction caused by an outside force, usually a violent blow to the head or body from an event like a fall, sports injury, vehicle-related crash, or explosive blasts and other combat injuries. A TBI can occur when an object, like a shattered piece of skull, penetrates brain tissue. No two brain injuries are alike, and their outcomes can vary greatly. A mild TBI may only affect brain cells temporarily, while a more severe TBI can result in long-term complications ranging from physical to cognitive. Some physical complications from sustaining a TBI include seizures, fluid buildup in the brain, infections, blood vessel damage, headaches, and vertigo. There are 5.3 million Americans living with a long-term disability as a result of TBI.

Many of those living with a TBI have turned to medical marijuana for its value as a neuroprotectant and its ability to increase blood flow to damaged areas of the brain.

TBI and THC

Professor Yosef Sarne of Tel Aviv University’s Adelson Center and his team found in mouse models that even extremely low doses of THC—around 1,000 to 10,000 times less than that in a conventional marijuana cigarette—administered one to seven days before or one to three days after injury can protect the brain from cognitive deficits. Then, in a report published in 2012, Sarne’s research further showed the long-lasting positive effects of THC on mice, indicating that a single treatment with an ultra-low dose of THC can modify brain plasticity and induce positive long-term behavioral and developmental effects in the brain.

A 2014 study investigated why, at one hospital, the death rate after traumatic brain injury was lower among patients who tested positive for THC. “This data fits with previous data showing that (THC) may be neuroprotective,” Dr. David Plurad, one of the study’s authors, says. He noted that experiments in animals, like those conducted by Sarne, have found that THC may protect the brain after injury.


The information provided should not be used as a substitution for physician knowledge. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment with medicinal marijuana.

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