Millions of concussions happen per year in the United States. As a matter of fact, 25% of Americans have had a concussion. After experiencing a concussion, people have employed several strategies to recover from it. One of them is to use weed. We know that weed definitely has an effect on the brain, that’s how you get high. However, can you smoke weed with a concussion? Here’s what we know about smoking weed with a concussion.
What is a Concussion?
Before we get into weed and how it affects a concussion, let’s define a concussion.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
As you probably already know, it can be caused by a blow or a hit to the head. However, a concussion can be caused by a hit to the body too. If you get hit and it causes your head and brain to jerk forward and backward rapidly, it could cause a concussion.
You can get a concussion by playing sports, getting into a car accident, falling, and a variety of other ways. While concussions aren’t usually life-threatening, they shouldn’t be taken lightly.
While recovery times may vary, you’re likely to recover fully within 10 days. However, you may develop post-concussion syndrome, which we will get into later.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
According to the CDC, symptoms tend to appear right after the incident that caused the concussion. However, the CDC also said that some symptoms may appear hours after the incident or even days after.
Some people may report that they “just don’t feel right”. However, here are some less vague symptoms you may experience:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Headache or feeling ‘pressure’ in your head
- Sensitive to light or noise
- Blurry or double vision
- Feeling sluggish or hazy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems – You may not be able to remember right before or after the incident
In rare cases, concussions could be more serious due to a collection of blood on the brain (hematoma). Some symptoms that indicate you need emergency medical attention as soon as possible are:
- Headache that is getting worse and won’t go away
- Having one pupil bigger than the other
- Loss of consciousness
- Slurred speech
- Repeated vomiting
What Should I Do Immediately After the Incident?
To be on the safe side, have your head injury examined by a doctor.
In addition to that, Healthline states that you should avoid operating any machinery. You also shouldn’t be left alone for a period of 24 hours.
Even though you may feel fine initially, you may develop troubling symptoms after. Therefore, it’s important to be alert and have others on alert too.
Can You Smoke Weed with a Concussion?
Smoking weed with a concussion is generally not recommended. However, it’s not hard to see why some people may reach for a blunt while they recover.
As mentioned before, concussions may cause headaches. Weed is often used as a pain reliever by stoners. As a matter of fact, there is some evidence that weed helps migraine sufferers find relief.
According to a 2020 study, weed did not seem to impact recovery within the first 4 weeks after the injury. However, the study said that weed, in comparison to cigarettes and alcohol, was associated with a lower symptom burden.
Symptom burden refers to the prevalence and severity of symptoms. Therefore, the study is indicating that weed may have helped to reduce the symptoms.
An animal study published in 2021 indicated that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may help the brain repair itself after a TBI. The study, that used mice, found that THC helped to increase the expression of compounds helpful in brain self-repair.
On the other hand, one case series indicated that a traumatic brain injury and heavy cannabis use was a recipe for disaster. The study documented two adolescents who had TBIs and used weed. Both patients later developed psychosis.
Can You Smoke Weed to Treat Post-Concussion Syndrome?
Before we answer these questions, let’s define post-concussion syndrome.
Post Concussion Syndrome, according to Healthline, is the presence of symptoms after a TBI such as a concussion. While symptoms may appear within days, they can pop up even weeks after.
In order to be diagnosed, you’ll need to be experiencing three or more symptoms including:
- Memory issues
- Sensitivity to light and sound
These symptoms, according to Healthline can go away within 3 months but may last over a year.
Therefore, it may seem smoking weed would be a viable solution for these symptoms. It might be but there isn’t a lot of research in this area.
In addition to that, your doctor may prescribe you an antidepressant for your anxiety and depression due to this condition. If you’re on antidepressants, weed may not be the best solution to alleviating the other symptoms. Mixing weed and antidepressants is a no-no.
In addition to that, weed is sometimes associated with memory impairment.
How Can I Recover From a Concussion?
If you’re on the fence about using weed to recover from your concussion, or just looking for other ideas, Healthline says to:
- Limit screen time
- Get lots of rest
- Include more protein, antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids in your diet
- Stay away from fluorescent light for a couple of days
- Avoid crowds for a while
You should also avoid activities that could worsen your injury like contact sports and even rollercoasters.
Finally, listen to your doctor’s orders so you don’t exacerbate your injury.
While there is promising data regarding smoking weed with a concussion, we suggest following the orders of your medical provider. Ask them what is the best way for you to recover from your concussion and whether or not weed could be used as an aid. In the meantime, hopefully, there will be a lot more research done about weed and its effects on traumatic brain injuries.