A new “concussion pill” made with cannabis is demonstrating signs of success, which is great news for any NFL athlete or veteran who’s been afflicted by brain trauma.
The pill utilizes a combination of hemp-derived cannabinoids and an NMDA amino acid anesthetic to improve cognitive functions. Rodents with traumatic brain injury showed significant cognitive progress when using the combination compared to those treated with a single agent.
The project started back in 2016, when Scythian Biosciences Corp. of Toronto delivered a $16 million grant to the University of Miami to embark on a five-year study to examine the effects of combing CBD and NMDA antagonists for the treatment of traumatic brain injury and concussions. Scythian, which is aiming to become a front-runner in the medical marijuana industry, and researchers believe this combination “could reduce post-injury brain cell inflammation, headache, pain, and other symptoms associated with concussion,” according to a press release.
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“There needs to be more systematic research in this field in order to study the neuroprotective properties of CBD, and to improve treatment for those sustaining mild-to-moderate TBI (traumatic brain injury) and concussion,” said Gillian A. Hotz, Ph.D., professor of neurological surgery and director of the KiDZ Neuroscience Center at The Miami Project and the University of Miami Sports Medicine Institute concussion program.
The pre-clinical trial showed no adverse effects in the combination therapy or when utilizing its individual components.
“The results were statistically significant and encouraging,” Scythian’s Jonathan Gilbert, who is the caretaker of the University of Miami partnership, told UPI. “This evidence strongly suggests further testing is warranted on medical cannabis’ potential in the treatment of trauma to the brain.”
Phase two of the study will involve a few human participants, who will likely be administered compounds in pill form. The participants will be broken into one control group and two groups of TBI patients: acute and chronic.
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Following that phase, the results will be analyzed and address any safety concerns before moving on. Once clear, researchers will begin phase three: a full-scale clinical trial over the next three years. They will determine the effectiveness of the pill using various injury models with FDA oversight. In June, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first cannabis-derived drug of its kind, which treats rare forms of epilepsy.
“The potential is enormous and extraordinary,” Gilbert told UPI. “It may someday be mandatory equipment on the sidelines of every football, baseball and soccer game, from youth leagues to professional organizations, ready to protect people of all ages from the brain’s immediate inflammatory response to trauma. It could also become standard treatment in emergency rooms and ambulances so first responders can administer it to patients within the ‘golden hour’ after an injury: a critical window of opportunity.”