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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused by repetitive head trauma, often seen in contact sports athletes and military personnel. The condition is characterised by the accumulation of an abnormal protein called tau, which leads to the degeneration of brain tissue and cognitive impairment. Symptoms of CTE may include memory loss, mood disturbances, aggression, impulse control issues, and, in advanced stages, dementia. Currently, CTE can only be definitively diagnosed post-mortem through brain tissue examination. Prevention strategies focus on reducing head trauma exposure, while research is ongoing to develop effective treatments and improve our understanding of this complex condition.

What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder associated with repetitive head trauma, leading to cognitive and behavioural changes over time.


The symptoms of CTE can vary among individuals and often manifest years or decades after the initial head traumas. Common symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating and problem-solving
  • Impulse control issues and aggression
  • Mood disturbances, such as depression and anxiety
  • Changes in personality
  • Motor problems, including tremors or difficulty with balance and coordination
  • In advanced stages, dementia and severe cognitive impairment


CTE is primarily caused by repetitive head trauma, which leads to the accumulation of an abnormal protein called tau in the brain. The buildup of tau causes degeneration of brain tissue and impairs normal brain function. Common causes of repetitive head trauma include:

  • Participation in contact sports, such as football, boxing, rugby, and ice hockey
  • Military service, particularly exposure to blasts or combat-related head injuries
  • History of multiple concussions or other traumatic brain injuries


Preventing CTE involves reducing the risk of repetitive head trauma. Some strategies include:

  1. Improved safety equipment: Using proper helmets and protective gear in contact sports to reduce the impact of head injuries.
  2. Rule changes in sports: Implementing and enforcing rules that minimise head contact and promote safer play, such as limiting full-contact practices or penalising dangerous plays.
  3. Concussion management: Properly identifying and managing concussions, including allowing adequate recovery time before returning to activities that may cause further head injury.
  4. Education and awareness: Raising awareness about the risks of repetitive head trauma and promoting safe practices in sports and other activities.

It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional if you suspect you or someone you know may have CTE or if you have a history of head injuries. They can help guide appropriate care and recommend strategies to reduce further injury and manage symptoms effectively.

Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Medical marijuana, or medical cannabis, refers to the use of the Cannabis plant and its components (cannabinoids) to treat various medical conditions or alleviate symptoms, including those associated with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

How does medical marijuana help with CTE?

While research on the effectiveness of medical marijuana in treating CTE specifically is limited, it may help manage some symptoms associated with the condition:

  1. Neuroprotection: Some studies suggest that cannabinoids, particularly CBD, may have neuroprotective effects, potentially slowing down the progression of neurodegenerative disorders.
  2. Mood regulation: Medical marijuana can help alleviate anxiety and depression, which are often associated with CTE.
  3. Pain relief: Medical marijuana has been shown to be effective in managing various types of pain, which could benefit individuals with CTE experiencing headaches or other pain symptoms.
  4. Sleep improvement: Medical marijuana may improve sleep quality, helping individuals with CTE get adequate rest and recover better.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

In addition to major cannabinoids like THC and CBD, there are other minor cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis plants that may have potential benefits for managing CTE symptoms.

Which cannabinoids and terpenes are most effective for CTE?

  1. Cannabidiol (CBD): CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with demonstrated neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and mood-regulating properties that may be beneficial for individuals with CTE.
  2. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): THC is a psychoactive compound known for its pain-relieving and mood-enhancing properties, making it effective in managing some CTE-related symptoms.
  3. Alpha-pinene: This terpene has been shown to possess neuroprotective properties, which may potentially benefit those with CTE.
  4. Limonene: Limonene is a terpene with anxiolytic and antidepressant properties, which may help alleviate mood disturbances associated with CTE.

It’s important to note that research on the use of medical marijuana for CTE is still limited, and more studies are needed to determine its safety and efficacy. If you are considering using medical marijuana to manage CTE symptoms, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about medical cannabis. They can help you determine the most appropriate treatment plan and monitor your progress to ensure the safe and effective use of medical marijuana for your specific needs.

Dosage and Consumption Methods

Recommended dosage:

Figuring out the right dose of medical marijuana can be hard because people’s reactions to cannabinoids and terpenes can be very different. Factors such as the specific condition being treated, the patient’s weight, metabolism, and prior experience with cannabis all play a role in determining the right dosage.
Most of the time, it is best to start with a low dose and slowly increase it until you get the effects you want while minimising any possible side effects. For patients who are new to medical marijuana, starting with 2.5–5 mg of THC or CBD and slowly titrating upwards is often advised.

However, consulting a healthcare professional experienced in medical marijuana is essential to developing a personalised dosing plan tailored to the patient’s needs.

Consumption methods:

There are several methods of consuming medical marijuana, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some common consumption methods include:

  1. Inhalation (smoking or vaping): Inhalation provides rapid onset of effects, usually within minutes, making it suitable for patients requiring immediate relief. However, smoking may pose respiratory risks, while vaping has been associated with lung injuries in some cases.
  2. Oral ingestion (edibles, capsules, tinctures): Ingesting medical marijuana provides longer-lasting effects compared to inhalation but has a slower onset, typically taking 30 minutes to 2 hours for effects to be felt. This method is suitable for patients requiring sustained relief but may require careful dosing to avoid overconsumption.
  3. Topical application (creams, balms, patches): Topicals can provide localized relief for conditions such as arthritis or skin disorders without producing psychoactive effects. The onset of action and duration of effects can vary depending on the product formulation and individual absorption rates.
  4. Sublingual administration (tinctures, dissolvable strips): Sublingual products are absorbed through the mucous membranes under the tongue, providing rapid onset of effects without the need for inhalation or ingestion. This method offers discreet consumption and precise dosing.

Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card

Why get a medical marijuana card?

Getting a medical marijuana card is helpful for patients who are looking for other ways to treat their conditions.

  1. Legal protection: A medical marijuana card allows patients to possess, use, and in some cases, cultivate cannabis for medical purposes, within their state’s legal limits.
  2. Access to quality products: Medical marijuana dispensaries offer a wide range of tested and regulated cannabis products, ensuring patients receive safe and effective medication.
  3. Tax savings: In some states, medical marijuana patients are exempt from certain taxes applied to recreational cannabis sales.
  4. Professional guidance: Medical marijuana cardholders have access to healthcare professionals who can provide personalized recommendations, dosing advice, and ongoing support.

How to apply:

The process of obtaining a medical marijuana card varies by state but generally involves the following steps:

  1. Consult with a marijuana treatment specialists to determine if medical marijuana is appropriate for your condition and obtain a written recommendation.
  2. Complete an application with the required documentation, including proof of residency, identification, and the healthcare professional’s recommendation.
  3. Submit the application to the appropriate state agency, along with any required fees.
  4. Await approval and issuance of the medical marijuana card.

Risks and Side Effects

Potential risks:

While medical marijuana can offer relief and improve the quality of life for many patients, it also carries certain risks and side effects. Some potential risks associated with medical marijuana use include:

  1. Dependency and addiction: Although the risk of addiction is considered lower than that of opioids or alcohol, some individuals may develop a dependency on cannabis.
  2. Impaired cognitive function: THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, can impair memory, attention, and reaction times, particularly with prolonged or heavy use.
  3. Respiratory issues: Smoking cannabis can cause respiratory problems, including bronchitis and lung irritation. Vaping has also been linked to lung injuries in some cases.
  4. Mental health concerns: High doses of THC or predisposition to mental health disorders can lead to increased anxiety, paranoia, or exacerbate existing mental health conditions.
  5. Drug interactions: Medical marijuana may interact with other medications, either enhancing or diminishing their effects. It is essential to discuss potential drug interactions with a healthcare professional before starting medical marijuana therapy.


Medical marijuana might not be right for every patient, especially those who already have certain health problems or risk factors. Contraindications to medical marijuana use may include:

  1. Personal or family history of substance abuse or addiction
  2. Severe liver or kidney disease
  3. Severe cardiovascular disease
  4. Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  5. History of psychosis or other severe mental health disorders
  6. Allergies or hypersensitivity to cannabis or its components

Legal Status

Where is it legal?

In the United States, the laws about medical marijuana are always changing. Currently, over 30 states and the District of Columbia allow its use under certain conditions. Each state has its own rules and a list of medical conditions that are allowed to use medical marijuana.

Even though some states have made medical marijuana legal, it is still illegal at the federal level because it is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

This difference between state and federal laws can make it harder for medical marijuana patients to get jobs, find housing, or travel across state lines, among other things. Patients should research their state’s guidelines and remain aware of potential legal risks.


Medical marijuana could help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for many people with long-term or debilitating illnesses.

When thinking about this treatment option, it’s important to know the right dose, how to use it, how to get a medical marijuana card, possible risks, side effects, and legal status.

Work closely with a doctor or nurse who knows a lot about medical marijuana to find out if it is a good and safe choice for your needs.

As the legal landscape surrounding medical marijuana continues to evolve, staying informed about changing regulations and guidelines is essential to ensuring responsible and compliant use.

As the field of medical marijuana continues to evolve, it’s crucial for patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers to stay informed about the latest research and developments. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the current landscape, but it’s always important to consult with healthcare providers for personalized advice.

Note: This article’s content is provided for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional legal or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or queries regarding laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult a lawyer, physician, or other licensed practitioner.