It isn’t unfair to suggest that Manny Pacquiao will throw more than 500 punches in a fight. Maybe that’s why, in 71 fights, he’s won 62 times and KO’ed 39 people. As he says, he throws punches in bunches. So, in 71 fights — assuming 500 punches per match and a 20% rate of punches connecting — he’s hit people with his brutal fists at least 7,000 times. How many times would he have to punch someone in the head to give them chronic traumatic encephalopathy? The exact number is unclear, but CTE is a real disease that’s taken the lives of many professional athletes. Contact sports like boxing and football are rife with lifelong athletes suffering from injuries to their brains.

Moreover, a 2016 report, which was published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology, noted that boxers seem to suffer the worst forms of CTE due to “more frequent rotational and shearing impacts.” In other words: repeatedly getting punched in the face, jaw, and head. Since 2015 (when the movie, Concussion, came out) the NFL has been trying to renew its image. The movie gave an emotional insight into the trials and tribulations of athletes faced with CTE.

In the professional leagues, as we’ve previously reported, the attitudes around cannabis are shifting. So, what does that mean for athletes who might want to use cannabis to help with CTE, and what can it actually help with?

The Ways That Cannabis May Help Those with CTE

How does cannabis help people with CTE? The answer depends largely on the person. Cannabis is a highly individualistic plant that may do wonders for some people and nothing for others. Since every person has a unique endocannabinoid system, it’s no surprise their reactions vary. For many, the reason cannabis works for them will be highly scientific, with evidenced-based research supporting their outcomes. For others, cannabis helps in anecdotal ways, such as:

Ways Cannabis Might Help With CTE:

  • Improved sleep
  • Clearer mental states
  • Less anger
  • Improved quality of life

According to a 2014 study, cannabis may actually help with the most important thing about a traumatic brain injury (TBI): survival. The study, which was published in the journal, American Surgeon, found that “a positive THC screen is associated with decreased mortality in adult patients sustaining TBI.”

These results were garnered from a three-year window where patients who suffered a TBI were tested for toxicology in their systems. Essentially, the study showed that simply by having cannabis in their systems, people were more likely to survive a serious blow to the head. This means that professional athletes who suffer repeated blows to the head, such as NFL players, may benefit simply by consuming cannabis.

Does Cannabis Help Prevent CTE?

Research like that published in 2014 leads us to ask the question, “does cannabis help prevent CTE?”

When heads get bashed, brains experience excitotoxicity. In other words, there is too much extracellular glutamate, which is toxic to the human brain and a serious repercussion of suffering a brain injury.

paper published in 2000 found that “cannabidiol was demonstrated to reduce hydroperoxide toxicity in neurons” and that “cannabidiol was superior to both alpha-tocopherol and ascorbate in protective capacity” when used to prevent glutamate toxicity.