Research so far has found that a single injury does not lead to CTE. Rather it is years of frequent repetitive brain trauma that cause CTE. At the same time, some people will suffer years of head blows without developing CTE, so scientists still have to understand the critical factor that leads to CTE in certain people.
Symptoms may start many years after the blows to the head. Early symptoms may appear in the late 20s or during the 30s, affecting moods and behaviour. In rare cases symptoms appear during the teen years.
Where the trauma happened, brain tissue gradually degenerates. A protein called Tau forms masses that spread slowly throughout the brain, destroying brain cells. This leads to problems such as:
- Depression, sadness and loss of interest towards life if there is no intervention.
- Mood changes, anxiety and irritability.
- Confusion and inability to think clearly.
- Aggressive behaviour that can be violent and unpredictable.
- Dementia. There is a general decline in cognitive ability, the major one being memory loss. There could be communication problems, inability to focus and poor reasoning.
- Difficulty controlling impulses. The person acts on a whim without thinking of the consequences.
Current Treatment of CTE
At present, CTE can only be suspected and then properly diagnosed after death when neurologists systematically search areas of the brain for Tau clumps that are unique to CTE. This can take several months so it does not form part of a normal autopsy. For a long time, only a few doctors could diagnose CTE but now there are more.
It is difficult to treat a disease that can only be officially diagnosed after death. Therefore, most treatments focus on controlling symptoms that are causing patients the most difficulty.
- Mood changes, depression, irritability and anxiety are normally treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, to help patients to manage their emotions.
- Headaches are treated with medications, craniosacral therapy, acupuncture and massage therapy.
- Memory loss is managed through memory training exercises including constant note-taking strategies.
According to a 2017 news item, football players rely on beers, anti-inflammatories and powerful prescription painkillers to reduce discomfort. Retired footballers use opioids four times as much as other people because they live in pain from head to toe, and as is now well known, opioids are addictive and there is danger of overdose that is leading to many deaths. Now they are relying on CBD for relief without side effects or the danger of overdose.
Does CBD Relieve CTE?
Retired footballers are ditching over-the-counter drugs and opioids that are wreaking havoc with people’s lives and leading to many deaths due to overdose. Instead they are opting for CBD to ease inflammation and pain, because it is effective, safe and not psychoactive. CBD actually helps the brain cells to recover. How is that possible?
The endocannabinoid system produces cannabinoids and it has receptors that interact with those cannabinoids. That makes CBD a substance that the body is already equipped to handle! Here is how CBD works in the body to bring relief for CTE patients.
CBD has Neuroprotective Properties!
CBD, at certain concentrations, can significantly prevent or arrest neurodegenerative diseases due to its anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and antioxidant properties. It is known to preserve brain matter and stop brain tissue death after traumatic brain injury or a stroke and this is exactly what people with CTE need. Right now, many current and retired football players are benefiting from these CBD properties.
CBD Reduces Pain and Inflammation
CBD is already being used by many people who suffer from chronic pain who are avoiding the risks of addiction and overdose that come with opioids. It has been tried in a number of studies and found to be effective. People suffering from CTE suffer from a lot of headaches and other body pain due to former injuries so they can benefit too from CBD’s analgesic properties. CBD is also anti-inflammatory therefore it reduces any inflammation in the brain and other parts of the body for CTE sufferers.
CBD is Antipsychotic
CBD helps people who are struggling with psychosis. In fact, studies have found that it has similar anti-psychotic effects to allotropic drugs that are used to treat mental imbalances. Since CTE sufferers struggle with dementia and aggressive behaviour, they too can benefit from this CBD benefit.
CBD Controls Moods and Reduces Anxiety and Depression
CBD reduces depression and anxiety and generally lifts the mood. Most people who use cannabis, and CBD in particular, already know this. In a review published in Neurotherapeutics,scientists explained that CBD effectively reduces anxiety and many types of anxiety disorders. In a number of animal studies, it was found to have anti-depressant effects. These effects are related to CBD’s ability to act on the serotonin receptors in the brain. N.B. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter whose role is to regulate moods and social behaviour.
CBD Reduces Stress
The constant pain that CTE patients have due to headaches and other inflammatory conditions in the body, together with frustration all lead to stress. CBD calms down the mind, improves sleep, relieves pain and generally relieves stress.