Cannabis: Marijuana Effective for Head Trauma and Its Symptoms?

Written by Lee Cleveland at Feb 09, 2017 - 12:00AM ET in News
Kyle Turley, a former professional football player, insists the NFL should re-evaluate its policy on marijuana, suggesting medical weed be used to treat chronic head trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE, a degenerative disease found in people who have suffered repetitive brain trauma, is getting a lot of press these days. In fact, the condition was made mainstream thanks to the 2015 film 'Concussion,' staring Will Smith and Alec Baldwin.

Individuals with CTE may show symptoms of dementia - such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression - which can start years or even decades after the initial trauma.

Today, CTE is believed to be most prevalent in professional athletes participating in the NFL, NHL, pro wrestling and, perhaps, boxing.

Can marijuana help those suffering with this condition?

"If cannabis is implemented and [the NFL] can lead the science on this, they can resolve this brain injury situation in a big way," former NFLer Kyle Turley, who has been diagnosed with CTE, told hiphopwired.

After retiring in 2007 due to neurological damage, Turley had been taking medication prescribed by doctors which he insists were addictive and did more damage than good. Then finally, he quit taking prescribed meds in 2014 and turned to marijuana. Turley credits weed with successfully medicating his CTE-inflicted depression and anxiety.

Is Turley, who recently co-founded the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition to inform the public on weed's medicinal benefits, on to something?

According to a recent article on ABC News, research done by Hebrew University in Israel reported in the journal 'Nature' suggests that 'cannabinoid, which is similar to the active ingredient found in marijuana and is produced in the brains of many animals, protects injured mice from added brain injury.

"Brain injury is not a one-shot deal. The primary injury occurs from the initial hit. Neurochemical injuries can cause secondary damage," said Dr. Ken Strauss of Temple University.

In fact, some scientists believe the subsequent effects of brain injuries, such as swelling and the release of toxic chemicals, can be more damaging than the initial blow(s) reponsible for the problem.

Can medical marijuana mitigate the after-effects of violent head blows, whether it be further physical damage and/or the resulting symptoms?

If so, should cannabis or something similar be widely - and legally - used to treat current and former athletes, such as boxers and football players suffering from head trauma?

And what about non-athletes, such as construction workers and those injured in auto accidents who have suffered serious head injury? There are believed to be more than 5.3 million people in the U.S. living with disabilities related to traumatic brain injury.

Regardless of how the NFL proceeds, should boxing explore the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes as it relates to head trauma?

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