Hardly a week goes by without some news of new research into concussion injuries. Most of the focus is on the NFL and the injuries players face and the effects former players have talked about. In March of 2016, NFL Director of Health and Safety Policy Jeffrey Miller was the first NFL official to admit that there is a connection between traumatic brain injuries suffered by football players and the neurodegenerative disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. A lawsuit filed by the NFL Players Association had alleged that the NFL knew there was a connection and was not providing adequate care for its players. That lawsuit is still pending, on the basis of the information from Miller on the connection.
A group of former players including Jake Plummer who spent ten years playing in the NFL, the last three with the Denver Broncos, has partnered with CW Botanicals, a producer of hemp products and the Colorado Springs non-profit group Realm of Caring which funds research into medical uses for cannabis to bring awareness to the problem of CTE in the NFL as well as other ailments like chronic pain, anxiety and depression.
The group has produced a PSA video on the possible benefits of cannabinoids to treat many of the conditions current and former players suffer from. The video “When the Bright Lights Fade” includes information on the issue of pain killers used and how easily players can become addicted to opioids. Symptoms of CTE also include anger outbursts, PTSD, depression and anxiety and treating these conditions with pharmaceuticals is not always effective.
Heather Jackson, CEO of Realm of Caring talked about current research on cannabinoids and said, “When you look at the research with regards to CBD as a neuroprotectant, I think that’s what should be very exciting for current players, former players and [the league] in general. There’s not a lot of research specific to CTE yet, but we’re hoping to change that and lead that effort. We know that CBD modulates neurons. We know that it acts on the receptor 5-HT1A. It acts on the opioid receptors. It enhances adenosine. New research is suggesting it increases bloodflow. We know all of these things, and they all relate to the symptoms of CTE.”
Through fundraising and the PSA, players like Plummer and others hope to establish a large-scale study at Johns Hopkins to look at the use of CBD for patients with suspected CTE or other traumatic brain injuries. They are specifically interested in a strain of marijuana initially known as “Hippie’s Disappointment” which had such a low concentration of THC, it would not produce a high. The oil from it was rich in CBDs however and many who use it claim that it helps with seizures, chronic pain, memory clarity and other conditions. Plummer has said, “Since I started taking CBD regularly, there are no more slow-moving, dreadful days with headaches, joint stiffness and wandering thoughts.” Many players and former players, including Plummer, have said that the use of pot in the NFL is widespread and that research into how it could be used safely is needed. Take a look at the video below to see more from Plummer and other advocates of research into cannabis for the treatment of CTE and other brain injuries.
Sources: Associated Press CW Botanicals Realm of Caring