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Cannabis consumption prior to injury could improve recovery times for trauma victims

If you’re a cannabis consumer who suffers a brain injury, you might recover faster than those who abstain from the plant, according to a study published in the Journal of Surgical Research.

“Although preinjury use of marijuana does not improve survival in trauma patients, it may provide some improvement in outcomes in patients with traumatic brain injury and those that are more severely injured,” reads the study’s abstract.

The researchers looked at in-hospital mortality and hospital length of stay data as the primary outcome measures and reviewed data from two large regional trauma centers in the U.S. from 2014 to 2018. Both institutions served a similar geographic region, the study notes, with similar population demographics.

Patients who were under 18 years of age, did not have level I or II trauma activations, were not drug tested, or who tested positive for other drugs, were omitted from the study.

Researchers found that the “marijuana-positive group” had significantly shorter hospital stays overall and also spent less time in the intensive care unit. But the cannabis consuming patients were also significantly younger than the other patient groups, which may play a factor in their faster recovery times.

Alternatively, the study notes, it could be the weed.

“It remains possible that anti-inflammatory and/or antioxidant properties of THC and CBD in patient systems before admission afforded some protection against the posttraumatic immune response,” the study states. “Future studies are required to determine if such an effect exists.”

Those results will likely come as no surprise to cannabis educator and professional rugby player Anna Symonds.

Symonds, a pledged brain donor to Boston University’s VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank — the largest tissue repository in the world focused on traumatic brain injuries — says the preliminary research regarding the neuroprotective qualities of cannabidiol and other cannabinoids is some of the most exciting research happening anywhere.

“We have very solid and exciting research showing that cannabinoids have neuroprotective and antioxidant properties,” Symonds says. “Understanding how that can prevent, mitigate and potentially help heal brain injuries is, I think, one of the most promising approaches that we know of.”

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