CTE in Professional Football Players, and the Potential of CBD to Address the Crisis

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This article is sponsored by CW Botanicals

The Charlotte’s Web line of high-cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis extract products first began to make headlines three years ago with its ability to effectively reduce seizures in pediatric epilepsy patients. Now, CW Botanicals extracts are being studied as a means of addressing a condition affecting a completely different demographic: retired professional football players suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE.

The Science and Politics Behind CTE

Football players at sunset

As described by Boston University’s CTE Center, “[CTE] is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head…[This] brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.”

With an ever-present stream of head injuries on the field, and an ongoing off-field discourse over the safety of the sport, the topic of brain damage in football has been spending more and more time in the spotlight. This has only been accentuated by the release of the movie Concussion, which tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered the link between CTE and football in 2002. The same topic, as well as the extent to which professional football’s governing body sought to obfuscate it, was brought to light by a Frontline investigative documentary in 2013.

As the surge of CTE research and media attention has brought the public’s eye to the seriousness of the issue, studies demonstrating the neuroprotective and neurogenerative properties of CBD have suggested that this cannabinoid may have the potential to treat those suffering from CTE. At the same time, professional football players both retired and active have been expressing their discontent with the fact that cannabis – medical or otherwise – remains on the league’s list of banned substances.

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