Cannabis Helps Prevent Death in Brain Trauma Patients

The following first appeared in Cannabis Now

A new study published by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute shows that cannabis plays a significant role in preventing death for people who have endured traumatic brain injuries. The report, titled “Effect of Marijuana Use on Outcomes in Traumatic Brain Injury” positively links marijuana to the reduction in mortality rates among sufferers of severe brain damage.

Researchers studied the records of trauma patients for three years before coming to their conclusion. Out of the 446 patient records that were reviewed, about 18 percent of them tested positive for having cannabis in their systems. According to reports, 97.6 percent of patients that showed previous marijuana usage survived surgery. Patients that tested negative for cannabis in their systems had a survival rate of 88.5. Researchers believe that cannabis is to thank for the difference.

“Previous studies in animals showed that giving tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active compound in marijuana, would improve survival after a traumatic brain injury,” said David Plurad, an LA BioMed researcher and co-author of the report. “We’ve known that in humans this may also be the case.”

This study provides further evidence of the neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids. Because cannabis is illegal on a federal level, researchers were not able to provide patients with pot but only test for previous, personal use. If physicians and researchers had more access to the plant, more controlled and deliberate experiments could be conducted that would further prove the medical benefits of marijuana. Although many companies have been developing products that mimic the effects of cannabinoids in the human system, there is no substitute for a naturally-occurring substance.

“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,” Plurad said. “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. There’s a big difference between synthetic forms of THC and the natural form.”


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