Is It Okay to Smoke Pot After a Brain Injury?

Question: 

I had a brain injury more than two years ago. Among other symptoms, I lost my sense of smell. What I’m wondering — as un-PC as this is — is whether I can still get high if I smoke marijuana.

Answer: 

Some people lose some or all of their sense of smell after a traumatic brain injury. However, there is no relationship between losing your ability to smell and the effects that marijuana have on your brain. You should also be aware that marijuana can be especially harmful after a brain injury.

There are many reasons not to use alcohol or illicit drugs, including marijuana after a brain injury. If you use drugs or alcohol, you could:

  • Not recover as fully or as quickly
  • Have more problems with concentration, memory, or balance
  • Increase your risk of seizures
  • Increase your risk of having another brain injury.

So, the bottom line is that whether you can smell or not, you shouldn’t being using marijuana.

 

 

Posted on BrainLine November 15, 2010. Reviewed July 25, 2018.

Comments (148)

I recently had a brain aneurysm which the doctors called a subarachnoid hemorrhage stroke. Is it ok to try marijuana edibles?

Dear Dr. Corrigan,

I'm wondering if CBD oil ( without THC) will help a survivor of a TBI with frontal lobe damage. i have a son that acquired an alcohol problem many years after his TBI.

I would appreciate any information, links, contacts, etc. on TBI and CBD oil.

Thank you,
Christine

I have a TBI from being knocked out and falling and hitting my head on the concrete sidewalk. I had to have emergency surgery on the left side for the hematoma and inside bleeding. It has been 1 year now. My headaches and pain are every day. They very from a throbbing to stabbing pain that rate a 1 or 2 for my good days to a 7 or 8 on my bad days. I cannot take lyrica or gabapentin due to side effects. I currently take butalbital - acetaminophn and Excedrin migraine when I cannot stand the pain. I tried the edible pot because everyone said it helped. I do not think that is the answer for me. I am prone to having seizures for the rest of my life now. It did help me sleep better, but I still woke up with pain. Also when I tried it during the day, It caused me to slur my speech and make head feel like it was moving when it wasn't.
I say try what you thinks help, but be ready for side effects and be willing to try other things too. I think pot is more natural and better for the body, but it is not a cure everything.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/25264643/
There are evidence-based studies coming out to show presence of a positive THC screen after TBI is linked to better outcomes (lowered mortality) and trauma patients with THC in their system experienced fewer secondary affects from their trauma (ie: reduces inflammation).

I suffered a mTBI with multiple body injuries as well. The combination of post-concussive syndrome, PTSD and cognitive dysfunction was crippling. I take an (nardil) MAOI for the depression and have with double vision. I still see a therapist who's completely on board with me using marijuana to ease my symptoms... I think this doc is full of crap. He has no citations for reference to his information. What I have, and many here too, is permanent brain damage which makes taking any oral medication a crap shoot. I have zero response to pain meds, hyper response to muscle relaxers. Why take an RX with all the side effects, like memory loss, when CBD handles my pain and marijuana helps me sleep through the night. I wake up fresh. Consult an MMJ doc for advice for your specific injury if you like. Friends, It just works!

I don’t completely agree with this doctor I received a tbi when I was 15 I’m now 27 I’ve been on so many medications I couldn’t function I finally got off some of them but I still have a lot of problems I just recently tried marijuana and found that it helped my tremors and my anxiety tremendously I haven’t had any seizures in years but haven’t had a problem since I started the marijuana and haven’t felt any sort of odd side effects from it although I would be careful and not buy it off the street from any random person but sometimes you have to use your own commen sense and not believe everything the doctors tell you especially when it comes to medication

I was in the Army for 16 yrs and suffered a major head injury during one of my deployments, orbital fractures and at the bottom base right side of my skull. Then kept deploying jumping out of airplanes etc. and had minor head injuries since. Been retired about two medical for TBI PTSD, I’m down to 600 Mg a day of oxcarbazepine and 100 mg of trazodone for sleep. I keep bouncing on and off Mary to stop, but same deal no nothing for feelings. Nothing towards family just a hulk. I get a 20 take three hits and I can hear myself come to life again, I can feel emotions again, apply sympathy and empathy to people because of my experiences in the world, I am a productive, healthy happy member of society that understands and doesn’t lash out like an animal. I have never had this relief in my life. When I was in high school, I got blazed, ripped Cheech and Chong style. Now I can walk with Jesus because I can see life in my family and my self again. God help us all. Amen.

Thankyou for this comment

As of 3 Nov 2018, I became a moderate/severe TBI survivor. The anti-seizure meds I was on were killing me. Edible cannabis saved my life. I literally believe that I would be dead now, had I been without it.

Tell it ..like it is George
I was on Dilantin 8 x 200 mg then asked to be switched to Phenobarbital an started having Aura's and only way to stop them ? .. Take a toke an I was fine
have also seen that Marijuana does not affect You if You have TBI .. but actually helps You an have seen it does So now days dont Belive everything You .. read

Hey, glad to hear you're making it work.

Joe

Absolutely retrograde. No science. He just says it and we're expected to accept it uncritically. I would not assume the responsibility of recommending it to others, but my very smart neurologist is tacitly in favor of it. I know when I'm having a bad day, a little bit of cannabis does wonders for my pain and my mood. And I know that some studies suggest moderate marijuana use after a TBI actually favors neuroplasticity. Experts! God deliver us from them!

I got hit by a drunk driver when I was a teenager. I have a brain injury and a seizure disorder. I take a lot of different kinds of meds. When I smoke weed I feel sober. I don't get high like I used to just feel normal. When will marijuana be legal for my help? I'm 38 now and I was 18 years old when I got my brain injury, why does weed help so much? Why can't I get it as a medicine? Brain injury is hard to live with. I don't get high I get sober I don't feel brain injury. Why do I need weed to feel better from my brain injury?

Suffered a TBI after being hit by a moving vehicle. I noticed the same thing. I don't get high from it any more. They put me in duloxetine and a bunch of other crap to help with restless legs and anxiety and now my number one medicine isn't even effective. I ha e had bobbing swaying and rocking sensations for months.

yes Bob, I'm with you. Pot and CBD oil help my mood, depression, and anxiety/panic and pain. man made poison made me want to kill myself. did time in the psyc ward. I'll take what God has grow and given us. big pharma pays off the government and feed you poison to keep you hooked until you die. in the meantime they have a customer for life. thanks, but no thanks

Hello!

I am a little relieved to be reading this! It's been about 7 months now since my accident, was hit by a car that pulled out in front of me while I was on my motorcycle. I had brain surgery, broken ribs, clavicle and broken femur. I am doing great now! I have been taking cbd oil, restoring my endocannabinoid system for around 2 months now. Nutrition and fitness being two other factors that help and am passionate for.
I do have a hard day every now and again. I have not met or talked to anyone else who has TBI yet and was hoping for that to happen. So thank you guys for sharing what you have. I feel supported.

Hey Amy, I read your comment and I feel we're very alike. I have a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), broken clavicle, humerus, and broken ribs due to my accident in 2017. I was wondering if it was okay to smoke marijuana or it it's better to get CBD oil? I wasn't sure if people with a brain injury were able to smoke or anything. I felt that it could cause me to have seizures. Should I ask a doctor?

Yes. You should talk to a doctor first!

I sure would like to read evidence based articles on the topic. If none are available then case studies, cohort studies, and lower grade information.

Dr John Corrigan,posted this 8 years ago! A lot of has happened in 8 years and a lot more research has come to light. I wonder if the good doctor still has the same evaluation??!!

I had been in a bad car accident 8 years ago and i had a TBI and the marijuana actually helps me calm down instead of making my anxiety worse and i am against taking pills when things change over the years the certian amount of pot helps and its healther in my case it helps me eat and remain calm <3

Marijuana use after a brain injury can actually help prevent further damage. It reduces inflammation and swelling which is the number one cause of damage during and after a brain injury. I suffered a serious brain injury in high school and started using marijuana once I got home. For the next few months I had serious headaches which marijuana helped alleviate by reducing inflammation and helping with the pain. While some drugs may make it worse. Marijuana is not one of them. If used in moderation it can provide remarkable medical benefits to anyone with an injury. People still think you can group all drugs into "its terrible for you". But each of them can provide specific benefits to those in need depending on the affliction. Some have less medical benefits like cocaine. But under the right circumstance some can have positive life altering medicinal benefits.

I wish i knew if i could smoke weed, i can't drink beer anymore due to seizure medsm so it'd be nice to have sonething to escape this TBI torture and the feeling of 'NEVER BEING THE OLD ME' feeling

Very well.. said !
was just like You till weed came into picture.

i dont agree that weed is not good for people with brain injury it can relieve pain and so many other reasons whoever said its harmful should talk to a professional about it

I strongly disagree with this article. Big pharm & their secret partners (hospitals) want that residual income at the cost of their patients. They have drugs to help get off drugs.....their drugs kill other major organs but they have more drugs to counter that horrible side effect. Medical marijuana and cbd oil has helped my husband a thousand fold. No mood swings, no uncontrollable shakes, speech became clearer. I'll back up the marijuana before any other pharm drug.

I agree with you 100 % as a TBI suffer from almost 8 years ago I am on long term disability. It took me almost 3 years to get off all the medication and that is a good thing.

Spot on.
Glad it works
Wish I knew why CBD oil messed up my diet so much !!
Loads of stuff I can't drink or eat ever since trying CBD oil.
Caused severe stomach cramps and uncontrollable temperature changes in me
NOT a cure for everyone.
I vape full oil= no issues.
Good luck

I agree! My only confusion is knowing what strains to use?

My problem is finding a dealer. I know a jerk in a classy Ph.D program who knows some people who smoke it, but he's terrified of what might happen to him if it became known he'd introduced me to any of them. An overly lucky and privileged *****, in my opinion.

I'm thinking of just asking workers at Whole Foods. I know the stuff does wonderful things for me. I just cannot get any.

Excellent! I’m so glad that you posted your comment! I totally agree! Big pharma... Don’t get me started... I’m also very happy to hear that you’ve found a NATURAL substance (made by God), that can take the place of manufactured medication!!! I highly recommend others to try these natural methods, as long as it’s legal (!!!)

Thanks for the feedback. I went in for a CT scan after a traumatic car accident and it came back unclear. Now I need an MRI scan to see deeper into my brain more clearly. Still use cbd and thc therapy along with oxycodone when needed should I worry at all about marijuana as bad as they say I should. And does it cause more damage or not?

My untrained no medical experience.
YES YOU SHOULD
Any medication can effect different people badly and without professional trained OPEN,HONEST AND UNBIASED advise we all play Russian roulette if we intake street drugs.
Taking any remedy may interfere with your medication or diagnosis.
Tell your Drs if you smoke and at least try to trust there professional opinion/training or find a more sympathetic Dr.
Don't waste time tell Dr in first visit then if no help get another asp.

I take daily- deep breath;
8 paracetamol ,
10 baclofen,
8 methocarbamol ,
70mg Zomorph (morphine) tablets day and night.
Occasional add breakthrough liquid morphine ,
About 4to 6 oxazepam
Meloxicam
Citrolapam
Omeprazole
Glandosane throat spray
Lumigan eye drops
Mometazone nasal spray.

Had head injury, epilepsy spinal injury.
Neck injury,
Back injury.
Nose injury.
Ulnar nerve damage.
Photophobia
All from Gulf 91.

Now waiting L4/5 discotmy back operation. After a spinal tap for M.S/M.N.D./
deheminililation .
Warned possible " "Caudia equina " or squashed spine.
Possible growth at base of brain (expect it to be spinal damage )
Scars or lesion on my brain (new)
And
"Anterior horn cell disease "

Without weed still spend most days on floor in pain and struggle to talk.
A drag or two of oil in vapour pen and I can talk stand,relax, Laugh .
I look healthy and strong!

I would still say nicotine is far worse than cannabis .
Best thing I did stopping that, but certain CBD oil messed me up
(No thankyou)
But think ?
"Do you need weed or just want to get high ?
Don't just smoke cause everyone else does.
Weed helps but give me baclofen or morphine first any day!
And my Drs (good or bad)

No it's GENERALLY not dangerous to healthy strong people.
But some people are at serious risk if they add any substance, smoke,drink,pills,activity.
Its Your life pal but if going to but worried, don't try alone.
I've collapsed into a fit after blowback years ago.
If alone etc could easily of dyed.
Its not Oxygen.

Hi Tiffany,
I completely agree with what you have to say and I am glad to hear that it has helped your husband! I suffer from severe traumatic brain damage to my frontal lobe that I encountered in 2003. I had to re-learn everything from who I was to who my family and friends were even walking, talking and all other independent functions had to be re-learned. My life was a complete upside down roller-coaster for about five years until I discovered cannabis. Cannabis gave me back my positive inner-voice and allowed me to channel my disability in a new light. I can proudly say that I have beaten the odds and have attained an Associates, Bachelors, and four more classes away from earning a Masters in psychology applied behavior analysis. Cannabis has been my biggest aid towards independence and happiness!

I have smoked marijuana for 29yrs, I have recently suffered a sabarachnoid haemorrhage which have been coiled 1 burst + 1 bulged, I'm currently taking medication + have been told I need to stop smoking altogether ( cigarettes as well as marijuana ) I enjoy the high I used to get + am wondering 1-was my aneurysm caused by smoking marijuana ? + 2-will I never be allowed to smoke it again ? I enjoyed chilling out with a joint + don't drink alcohol I have a check up in 8week's time + of course they are going to tell me I shouldn't smoke at all, I'm worried that if I do smoke again I may die or suffer seizures is there any known links between them please ??

This is western medicine opinion. I personally received a very traumatic brain injury in March of 1999. I have taken several medications for memory improvement, and impulsiveness. The prescription medications would work for a few months, then I would develop an immunity, so I would have to change to a different pill. In mid April, 2018 I started smoking marijuana oil, sativa hybrid 70% thc. In 3.5 months, I am not taking any prescription medications, and have been having flashbacks of the head on collision that caused the tbi in 1999.

Hi my name is Ronnie I suffered from a TBI I was out with some friends drinking and chilling and one of my friends I was with had a friend with him and all I remember was us drinking and talking and the friend that my friend brong out with us started getting mad because I wouldn’t buy another drink and remind you we was sitting on a porch well he punched me in the face then pushed me off the porch I fell backwards and hit the back of my head and had a TBI I damage the occipital lobe now that it happened to me I found out it control your vision my eyes are a little crazy now I use to smoke all the time before this happened to me I’m scared to smoke and loose my vision all the way but I still get the urge to smoke

Id be careful friend.
We've all seen smokers do a white one.
It's great stuff as an antidepressant and other stuff but it's not Oxygen your vision is more important !!
Stick below your limits
I can't drink tea or coffee or chocolate after trying CBD oil under the tongue.
I wanted the health boost without the smoke.
If you do I suggest a strain called (not jokeing) its called " no name " it has excellent medical properties and a brilliant genetic heritage developed solely for medical use.
Smokes good too !
Called no name so if court growing looks less professional =lesser crime.
2 or 3 plants 2 foot high in hydro will do all you need.
Or just California orange
Or "honey bee"
Don't go for the latest mega strong varieties.
Medical types are usually Sativa dominat.
Street weed is nearly all Indica based and makes you heavy or sleep often is grown poorly .
Learn about honey oil and vapourising.
Have a chat with your seed supplier,explaine your interested to know what variety for medical purposes .
Don't say to grow drugs :(
That or try to find a sympathic medical person (nurse) who may watch you have ONLY a drag or two !!!
Treat as medication not Fun-drugs.
I used to massive cone it all day ! Now vapourising pen and oil 2 or 3 drags when pain,shaking or anxiety becomes too much.
Wouldn't a free society be nice instead of leaving the sick in pain.
Medical timer since 92
Jeff

Ronnie, smoke it up brother. I suffered a tbi 19.5 years ago. I began reversing the tbi 3.5 months ago by smoking marijuana oil. Cannabis has abilities that haven't even been discovered yet.

A little about my case, which is quite different than most TBI victims.
I am writing this is June 2018....
I’ve been airlifted twice.... The first in 2001, and the second in 2005 while driving on my way to Easter seals (they had a program I was attending for my condition-TBI).
Before my second, I was within a week or so of getting a job and on with life, when it happened again.
Then 2 years after the second accident, I had brain surgery due to partial seizures, and then 2 years after that in 2009, I had eye surgery due to the second accident.
I’ve had to re-learn how to bla bla bla & bla too..... but it doesn’t matter. I’m not here to tell you how I had seizures every 5 minutes inside of a coma, and how doctors couldn’t figure out how they started or stopped.
For me what I have come to find out about marijuana is this....
For me smoking oils with THC is not the route to take. After experimenting with these oils I found that they become additive due to them being so easily accessible, with no long lasting odor, etc...
If you turn the vape pen to the side, and the oil is a liquid and not a solid, it means that there are cutting agents mixed in and they will hurt you later down the road— you will be worse off than just the simple brain injury.
If the oil is a solid (after turning the vape pen to the side), chances are that there is more THC than any human alive needs to consume in the oil.
So I got off that type of oil.. I tried CBD, and found it messed with my emotions. I became defensive about things I normally wouldn’t, etc..
What I’ve found in helping me to fit in socially, and not become so overly anxious,
I put Jesus Christ first in my life! And since then, with prayer and belief on Him, I was lead to marijuana the plant, but a very moderate amount. I use a 1 hitter and do not take it outside my house. I smoke before I go to bed a couple of hits, and without alcohol being in my system, I sleep threw the night.
Alcohol wakes me up at 3 in the morning. I don’t get much sleep with it.
Moderation of weed helps me- This is what is working for me!

Wow!!! Good for you! Almost EXACTLY same here!

Yes, I’ve suffered brain injuries.

I smoke, and continue to smoke.

We all know deep down what helps and what doesn’t.

Those that have suffered a brain injury will only tell you truthful testimonials, the rest are just talking like they know what they’re saying.

God bless

Weed is a drug that should be developed the same as opiots or morphine etc.
Drop the stigma !!!
Show your enlightened education !!!
It's better than gas and air,just as quick to relieve pain and control breving but doesn't make you feel sick like gas.
For me a few drags of blue cheese or Afghan no1 are as effective as 20mg morphine but take effect in seconds !!
My violent shakes,severe pain and laboured breving that puts me on the floor unable to talk or hold a cup can be cured in two or three drags and I'm ready for rugby or disco !
But druggies be honest !!
It's also fun and easily overused and in some this can cause problems, so treat with respect.
Switch to oil vapourising cut out nicotine etc and use only as needed.
Well except when chilling with Budds, ( Barney farm seeds).
It's our right to fair treatment and our duty to disobey any unjust law.
Fight the Mann'
Toking since '84

Anxiety and depression are part of brain injury I think. I was prescribed a Benzodiazepine called clonazepam for over 20 years! I was also prescribed Dexedrine for ADHD and an SSRI, Aricept, and omega-3 acid ethyl Esters capsules USP 120 one gram/month as well. Now, since my psychiatrist retired, no one wants to prescribe either of these first two medications!! Even though I never abused them, and I had no problem with them. Doctors today are worried about addiction, lawsuits, maybe I don't know why, ...! Marijuana is something that you cannot "swallow a bottle of"and overdose!! I predict it to become very popular... from the information that I read, the effects are temporary and a person is likely to fall asleep not overdose. I think all Benzodiazepines, and sleeping pills or pain pills are schedule 4 drugs more often than not! A lot of people are worried about accidental suicides or who knows? It would be nice to get a good night sleep instead of having chronic insomnia, and anxiety daily! I hope I can get relief. Thanks.

To "healed being": I suffered a head injury in the prime of my working career. Alcohol is horrible for me. Pot is a hopeful remedy for chronic insomnia! I would like to try it! One thing is for sure, I agree that people with head injuries always tell the truth about their injuries and what may work for them or doesn't! The way it changes your life is previously unimaginable! And there's just no room for anything besides truth! Thanks.

I strongly believe what you said.

I suffered a TBI a little less than 3 years ago when I was hit by a freight train while walking to work. I'd been smoking for about 7 years when this happened. I got brain surgery and had to relearn how to breathe, walk, tall, etc. again. I smoked again, very slowly at first, but I jumped in hard after a few months of that. Much too much for my mind, especially so near to when I'd had the TBI. Moderation is the key for everything. Now I take CBD's for seizures and also smoke about twice a day. I have a full time job, a house, a car, life is great. I don't know where I would be without having marijuana to smoke, but it has saved me numerous times. Smoking in moderation has done wonders for me

I had a brain hemorrhage just over 2 yrs ago
This was diagnosed as a migraine for a full week before my partner, who's a nurse refused to leave the doctors surgery until he'd arranged for a scan
They scanned me and found the rupture
My point is I was smoking rather a lot during that 7 days to help with the pain and trying to sleep
I've since been told by more than one medical professional that the cannabis I smoked that week probably helped save my life
It lowers blood pressure which is handy when you;re walking around for a week with a ruptured aneurysm
thye hemorrhage took 45% if my sight on the left and though I can still work I get tension headaches across my forehead from all the squinting I do whilst reading my monitor at work
Again, a spliff after work sorts this straight away and I'm convinced is less harmful to me than a dozen paracetamol a day

Every brain injury is different as we all know but I just thought I'd share my experience

This information is completely FALSE. How can smoking pot cause another brain injury? Reading that stupid answer gave me a brain injury, Jesus.
The truth is that there are many medical facts that support the use of marijuana specifically TO help heal the brain more quickly and efficiently. So to be more precise, WEED HELPS BRAIN INJURIES. Weed is not the devil.

I got hit by a drunk driver and I have a brain injury and seizure disorder, when I smoke marijuana I feel calm and normal like I didn't just take 1,100 milligrams of brain injury med, I've never had a seizure after or during smoking weed, I started to smoke when I was 14, I'm 38 now and it's different, I used to get high, now I just don't have seizures, I believe in God and I think weed helps, it comes straight from the ground He created with no man made nothing, somebody tell me why I can't have this medicine?

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