Millions of unfortunate events leading to concussions happen around the world every year.
For those who suffered a minor injury, the death rate from concussions is equal to zero.
However, those with even a mild concussion can have a 2% death rate, a percentage that goes up with the severity of the hit — and it goes up to 30% for those with a more severe injury.
Thankfully, most people recover just fine.
That being said, there isn’t much you can do after you suffer a concussion: in order to recover from your injury, you should just follow your doctor’s orders which usually include a lot of rest, no distractions (such as phones and computers, even reading), and lots of fluids. The only medication your physician can prescribe is something to soothe headaches.
If you’re a cannabis user, however, there’s probably one more question on your mind:
Is smoking weed with a concussion safe or not?
Well, as it turns out, cannabis is good at reducing brain swelling and helping your body recover from a head injury.
But let’s explore this a bit further.
What is a concussion?
The simplest way to explain a concussion is to think of it as a bruise on the brain.
However, if you want to look for a deeper explanation, it would be that the concussion is a head injury caused by blow or jolt to the skull, which produces a swelling on the brain and temporarily stops brain functions.
The concussion is the most common traumatic brain injury (or TBI) and can be also caused by a blow to the body that makes the brain move bounce in the interior of the skull.
Our brain is protected by the skull and the spinal fluid which acts as a buffer. When we suffer a hard blow, the brain moves, and slams in the skull. These movements cause physical damage and abnormal chemical reactions in the brain, which can lead to cell damage and other side effects.
Most common causes of concussions in adults are car accidents, falls, recreational and sports injuries and cycling accidents. Children are also more prone to concussions — around two million kids visit the ER every year for concussion-related injuries.
You know how that moment of neglect on the playground or during a football practice is enough to cause an injury.
Symptoms of a concussion
Most concussion symptoms occur almost immediately after the injury (or a few hours or days after), and last from several days to a week. Some symptoms tend to last up to a year.
If you have suffered a head or a related injury you can feel one or more of these physical, cognitive, and/or emotional symptoms:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Difficulties with motor skills and balancing
- Light sensitivity and seeing bright lights
- Blurred or double vision
- Speech difficulties
- Noise sensitivity
- Troubles concentrating and confusion
- Numbness in limbs
If you simply don’t feel like yourself, or if you experience anything unusual after you suffer a blow to the head, contact your doctor immediately. Have in mind that certain symptoms can occur some time after the injury, so keep a close eye on everything unusual you might be feeling.
There is no cure for concussion per se. All the injured brain needs is rest, both physical and cognitive.
That includes abstaining from all the mental work such as studying, going to work, socializing, exposing yourself to bright light and loud noises, sports, and workouts. Doctors even recommend not playing video games, texting and even reading.
As I’ve said, there are no medications for concussions, but doctors can prescribe painkillers for treating headaches or something to help you sleep better, as sleeping problems often occur after this type of injuries.
But let’s cut to the chase:
Is it bad to smoke weed if you have a concussion?
Let’s see what science has to say about this.
Can cannabis help the brain heal faster after a concussion?
Some doctors might think that smoking weed after a head injury might not be the best idea.
On the other hand, pro-cannabis doctors would disagree since there’s a lot of evidence that marijuana can help the brain heal faster and even protect it from neural damage.
Although there still hasn’t been enough research papers published on this matter, there are a few which we can rely on.
CBD reduces brain inflammation tweet this
CBD is known by now as an anti-inflammatory agent and there have been a few studies proving that cannabis reduces all sorts of swelling and inflammation in our system, including brain inflammation.
According to a scientific study, endocannabinoid system plays a very important role when it comes to our brain recovering from the injury. (1)
In fact, researchers found that cannabinoids (particularly CBD) can even protect our cells against the damage before and after the injury.
Cannabis helps reduce post-concussion syndrome symptoms tweet this
Unfortunately, only the US state of Illinois has approved the use of medical marijuana for treating post-concussion syndrome symptoms. Most states and provinces in Canada have approved medical cannabis for some of these symptoms separately, which may be a good way around this.
Cannabinoids have neuroprotective properties tweet this
That is the reason why cannabinoids have found their application in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
CBD has especially shown some neuroprotective properties, but THC also protects our nerve cells before the injury.
In a study from 2014, researchers found that patients with concussion who had THC in their blood at the time when the accident occurred were less likely to die from a brain injury. (2)
Best strains for concussion
As I mentioned before, no matter where you live, you can probably get a prescription for medical marijuana for treating separate symptoms of concussion (except in Illinois where you can get a prescription for post-concussion syndrome symptoms).
Here are some strains for treating headaches, depression, anxiety, sleeping problems, and fatigue, which should be enough to give you a head start when it comes to finding the perfect strain for your issue.
I recommend trying a few strains first before deciding which one is the best for treating your concussion symptoms.
Strains for headaches and pain
Headaches are pretty common after head injuries. Certain sativas and indicas, as well as hybrids, have painkilling properties, which is very beneficial for overcoming headaches and migraines.
These strains can help you get rid of headaches, as well as some other accompanying symptoms.
This could very well be the strain to help you with all concussion symptoms: headaches, pain, stress, and depression. Harlequin is also great at reducing inflammation. It contains high levels of CBD which diminishes psychoactive effects of THC and paranoia.
Some people tend to get a bit paranoid when smoking weed, that’s why this strain is perfect for those sensitive to THC. Harlequin is one true source of CBD, which neutralizes the psychoactive effect of THC while embracing its medical properties.
A pure classic among the strains. OG Kush is one of the most popular strains so you won’t have trouble finding it in your area. It crushes stress, kills pain, swipes away the migraines. With THC levels around 20%, OG Kush will put you to sleep as soon as it starts to wear off.
Blue Dream is a perfect strain for daytime rest since it does not provide heavy sedation. This high THC strain is great for treating pain and nausea. Blue Dream is actually perfect for balancing slight euphoria and body relaxation.
Strains for sleep
After suffering a concussion you’ll need lots of naps. After a medical observation, your doctor will most probably recommend home rest — no work, no heavy physical activities, no phones, and computers. Just a lot of rest and sleep.
You’ll never be wrong for choosing Indicas since those strains are good for treating insomnia.
Here are a few strains to help you get into a deep slumber.
This is a very potent strain, so novice users should be very cautious with Skywalker. Keep the dosage low until you get used to it. It releases the body tension leading to a good night’s sleep. It’s great for severe pain as well as mild headaches.
A highly useful medical strain but high in THC, it relaxes all the muscles in the body and mind, gradually introducing peaceful sleep. Northern Lights also relieves pain, stress, depression, and boosts appetite.
Cookie Jar is perfect for those who have suffered a head injury since it provides a relief from pain, stress, anxiety and, depression, as well as it helps to get your sleep under control. Many patients have been using it for treating insomnia with success.
Strains for fatigue
After suffering a concussion, you’ll probably feel more tired than ever. So, to get you back on track, here are a few strains for daytime fatigue after your recovery to give you a little energy boost.
This strain is known as a happy strain. Jillybean has a sweet and fruity aroma, produces a slight head buzz, but does not weigh down the body. Great for fulfilling your free time while getting that much-needed rest.
With a nice body buzz, Pineapple Express is used for treating a number of medical conditions such as chronic depression, stress, and fatigue.It also reduces mild pains and headaches while it fills you with all the energy you need.
Green Crack is a potent Sativa which can really increase your high-time productivity, even though the name suggests otherwise. The vigor from this strain can possibly be a bit too much for the gentler stoners out there, so make sure you consume it in a non-threatening environment for the most pleasant effect. On the other hand, if you take your weed as strong as possible, you’ll have no problem with it pretty much anywhere.
Strains for depression, anxiety, and stress
Suffering a head injury like a concussion can be really stressful, so here are a few strains to help you overcome feelings like loss and despair and help you recover faster.
Need a laugh in these hard times? No problem, Laughing Buddha is perfect for laughs and giggles. However, this is a really potent strain, so those who are not really experienced with THC should take it easy, or choose another strain.
An excellent strain for depression, stress, fatigue, nausea, and headaches that makes you feel happy and relaxed. This very potent Sativa-dominant hybrid does not induce anxiety but just stick to the lowest needed dose.
JH is simply known as the natural antidepressant. It uplifts the mood, creativity, and focus. Named after a famous activist, Jack Herer gives you a full body bliss and a clear head, perfect for battling the post-injury depression.
I hope this article gives you a clearer picture of the link between cannabis and concussions and a new hope for your faster recovery. Just remember, there are a lot of strains out there on the market and finding the right one is never easy, so try finding a pro-cannabis doctor that can help you make a smarter choice.
- Lopez-Rodriguez AB, Siopi E, Finn DP, Marchand-Leroux C, Garcia-Segura LM, Jafarian-Tehrani M, Viveros MP, CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptor antagonists prevent minocycline-induced neuroprotection following traumatic brain injury in mice, Cerebral Cortex, January 2015, 25(1):35-45.
- Nguyen BM, Kim D, Bricker S, Bongard F, Neville A, Putnam B, Smith J, Plurad D. Effect of marijuana use on outcomes in traumatic brain injury. The American Surgeon, October 2014, 80(10):979-83.