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Two years ago, when Dan Goulet was going up the stairs in his Toronto apartment, he slipped and smacked his head sharp against the steps. Then when he got up, he quickly blacked out and struck his head again on the steps. He was later diagnosed with a concussion.

Goulet, who now lives in Kitchener, Ontario, recalls the symptoms only getting worse four days after the fall, when he could barely function and slept for more than 18 hours a day. Sunshine felt as painful as needles puncturing his temples. He was prescribed medications such as SSRIs that helped stabilize his mood, because the concussion’s tension headaches elevated his anxiety levels.

“Then I watched a documentary on Vice about NFL players using cannabis for head injuries and I thought I’d give it a try,” Goulet says. When he used high-CBD strains and oils, he immediately found relief.

“Today, it’s the same thing: The tension headaches go away, and I can get irritable without CBD when I don’t ease that anxiety too,” Goulet, 37, notes.

Cannabis is increasingly being studied as a potential treatment for concussion symptoms, which started to gain momentum when a 2011 study found1 that when mice had their endocannabinoid system activated, those with a traumatic brain injury [TBI] saw results of decreases in “brain edema, inflammation and infarct volume and improved clinical recovery.”

A later study, in 2017, reported2 that “the endocannabinoid system possesses potential drugable receptor and enzyme targets for the treatment of diverse TBI traumatic brain injury pathology.” Translation: if done right, a cannabis medication could replace the usual pharmaceutical administered to those with brain injuries.

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is now one of the global hubs studying the relationship between cannabis and concussion treatment. It received a $16 million (U.S.) grant in 2016 to work on creating a cannabinoid-based medicine for brain injury patients. The money came from the company Scythian, which hopes to be a market leader with an upcoming drug treatment for concussion symptoms.

Their researchers announced in 2018 that in a pre-clinical study3, the blend of a hemp-derived cannabinoid and an NMDA amino acid anesthetic showed improved cognitive function in rodents with traumatic brain injuries compared with individual components.

When Goulet is asked how a legalized-cannabis market in Canada has affected his medical supply, he admits he’s been frustrated as an Ontario resident forced to “refresh the OCS site hundreds of times to see if they have what I need.” And what Goulet requires is a CBD-dominant strain or oil, which are often sold out at the OSC e-store.

“Many licensed producers really need to live up to their promises [to have enough supply for medical patients,” Goulet adds.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21418185
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5314139/

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