All About CTE

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, better known as CTE, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain damage. It usually occurs in athletes who are playing heavy contact sports. Symptomatic concussions and asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head are both equally a threat to someone as far as possibly developing CTE.

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Symptoms

The symptoms of CTE can begin sometimes years or even decades after the last brain trauma. Symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impulse control problems
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidality
  • Parkinsonism
  • Progressive dementia

Causes of CTE

There’s little evidence of what exactly causes this disease. The best available evidence tells us that CTE is caused by repetitive hits to the head sustained over a period of years. This doesn’t happen from just a few hits to the head. Most people diagnosed with CTE suffered hundreds or thousands of head impacts over the course of many years playing contact sports or serving in the military. Also it’s not just concussions, some studies point towards subconcussive impacts, or hits to the head that don’t cause full-blown concussions, as the biggest factor.

Prognosis

Many people who show signs of CTE live healthy and fulfilling lives for years. Regular exercise and good nutrition can help manage symptoms, including pain and stress. CTE can only definitely be diagnosed after death because the indication is deep within the brain tissue.

Medical Marijuana and CTE

This disease cannot be cured but medical marijuana eases symptoms to give patients a better quality of life. MM helps ease the anxiety and frustration that comes along with memory loss amongst other things. Additionally:

  • 2002 study on rats and mice concluded that these neuroprotective agents could counteract the negative effects of a traumatic brain injury, including symptoms like swelling. 
  • Another research project conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health further highlighted THC’s and CBD’s neuroprotective qualities when the brain is exposed to toxic levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter responsible for memory and learning.
  • In a human study, a 2018 study found medical marijuana reduced chronic pain and dizziness associated with a concussion in a majority of patients

Marijuana strains that help with CTE symptoms include:

  • The Black: This indica-dominant strain helps with brain spasticity, slowing the progression of the disease. It can also help relieve migraines associated with the disease.
  • Cannatonic: This hybrid strain is 50/50, combining the best qualities of both. It helps with inflammation and swelling in the brain.
  • Bay 11: This is a potent sativa to help with brain spasticity as well. It’s excellent for daytime relief as it won’t leave the patients couch locked.

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