Study: Marijuana Users More Likely to Survive Traumatic Brain Injury
You may have heard the alarming reports in recent months that marijuana may cause brain damage. The reports are taken from a study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, that observed that regular marijuana use alters the structures of your brain. No one knows what these changes mean, and subjects in the study reported no decline in cognitive function. So what does marijuana do to the brain?
Well, the jury may still be out on whether or not marijuana causes any brain damage, but science has concluded that marijuana does help you survive from traumatic brain injury. In a study conducted by Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, and published in The American Surgeon, individuals that sustained traumatic brain injuries were more likely to survive if they had marijuana in their system.
In previous studies, scientists had confirmed similar results with laboratory rats, which is what motivated scientists to conduct this study. To gather information, scientists followed the cases of 446 individuals with traumatic brain injuries and screened for patients with marijuana in their system, which patients were tested for before undergoing treatment.
Of 446 patients, 82 tested positive for marijuana. The group without marijuana in their system had an 11.5 percent mortality rate; compared to the marijuana group, which had a 2.4 percent mortality rate. It should be noted that all subjects had sustained similar head injuries, so severity of the head trauma did not seem to play a role.
Speaking with the Daily Breeze, LA Biomedical researcher David Plurad remarked the unprecedented nature of this study. “This study was one of the first in a clinical setting to specifically associate THC use as an independent predictor of survival after traumatic brain injury,” said Plurad. “It’s illegal to give THC in its natural form for research purposes so this is really the best you can do in a natural environment.” Sadly, marijuana’s Schedule I status prevents a more in-depth study.
Plurad went on to say that they don’t know what’s happening to the brain on a molecular level, but they do know that the THC in the patient’s system helped reduce inflammation in the brain. The swelling of the brain is one the biggest killers in traumatic brain injuries, and this new study could lead to better ways of treating them.
It should be noted that in the study, the vast majority of subjects with marijuana in their system were men in their 20s and 30s while the group without marijuana in their system were on average 20 years older. It would not be unreasonable to assume that age played a factor in survival rates, although researchers don’t believe that to be the case.
With the release of this report, we should think of US soldiers and NFL players. Both groups have tough anti-marijuana rules; and both groups have a high percentage of traumatic brain injury. This study should be mandatory reading for the decision-makers in the NFL and the United States Armed Forces, then maybe they would relent in their restrictions on cannabis, if only for those with brain trauma. This individual report may not be the one that changes everything, but it is a start.
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