Endocannabinoids and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Have you ever had a bad situation made worse by your own reaction? Have you ever wished you had been slower to react or had reacted with less intensity and more deliberation? This also often occurs on a cellular level. What happens during brain trauma is a great example of the body’s reaction causing more problems than the injury itself. Brain trauma is the leading cause of death in young people. Whether from injuries during rigorous or extreme activities such as sports, or from less avoidable car or workplace accidents, brain trauma can leave individuals with physical disability or worse, comatose. Researchers have also observed that beyond the acute (short-term) effects of brain trauma, individuals with previous brain injuries are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions. Countless studies have shown that one of the most critical factors in determining the long-term health consequences of head injury is the type and quality of treatment immediately surrounding the injury. In other words, the potential to change the outcome of the accident is greatest immediately after it has occurred, where small differences in timing and medical reaction can mean the difference between a healthy recovery or prolonged damage. When such an injury occurs, the alarm bells of the brain start going off, launching the brain into an instinctually protective mode. The flow-chart found at the end of the article outlines the specific sequence of that process. During this protective behavior mode, the brain accomplishes several important physiological changes. These…

How Cannabinoids Can Beneficially Interact with Neurodegenerative Disorder Treatment

Neuroinflammation is known to play a significant role in essentially all neurodegenerative processes. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Huntington’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease all involve hyperactive microglia, which are the live-in macrophages of the brain, spinal cord, and central nervous system. Macrophages are immune cells that capture and dissolve foreign substances, germs, and cancer cells within the body. The microglia in the brain and spinal cord form the first line of immune defense in the central nervous system. Unfortunately, in the case of aforementioned diseases, these cells have become overactive causing them to secrete excess substances, such as cytokines (cell signals that regulate cell group growth and response), glutamate, and harmful free radicals. This excessive production of chemicals causes inflammation, which leads to further cell death. Cannabis and the family of chemicals it produces are known to act on two major cell receptor types named CB1 and CB2 respectively. The CB1 receptor is most commonly found in neurons throughout the brain. The psychedelic effects of cannabis come from this receptor’s function, which re-wires the way neurons signal each other. The CB2 receptor on the other hand, is found throughout the body, especially within the immune system cells. The effects of activating the CB2 receptor are more myriad, but within the immune system specifically four groups of effects have been identified: 1. induction of apoptosis or forced cell death 2. suppression of cell proliferation 3. induction of regulatory T cells 4. inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokine/chemokine production and increase in…