The National Football League (NFL) has granted $1 million in research funding to two teams of medical researchers at the University of California San Diego and University of Regina to investigate the effects of cannabinoids on pain management and neuroprotection from concussion in “elite football players.”
“As with the league’s broader approach to health and safety, we want to ensure that our players are receiving care that reflects the most up-to-date medical consensus,” said Dr. Allen Sills, NFL Chief Medical Officer. “While the burden of proof is high for NFL players who want to understand the impact of any medical decision on their performance, we are grateful that we have the opportunity to fund these scientifically-sound studies on the use of cannabinoids that may lead to the discovery of data-based evidence that could impact the pain management of our players.”
The first study, “Effects of Cannabinoids on Pain and Recovery from Sports-Related Injuries in Elite Athletes: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” will be led by Drs. Thomas Marcotte and Mark Wallace, with colleagues at the University of California San Diego.
The primary aim of this clinical trial is to assess the therapeutic efficacy and adverse effects of delta-9 THC, CBD and combined THC/CBD, compared to placebo, for relief of post-competition soft-tissue injury pain in elite athletes.
The athletes will vaporize treatments following game-related injuries, with outcomes monitored via remote phone apps. The findings from this study are expected to provide key, preliminary data on the possible effectiveness of cannabinoids for sports-related injuries and inform future larger studies, the doctors said.
“Our team is excited to receive this funding to conduct a systematic, ‘real-world, real-time’ study with professional athletes, and which should shed further light upon the many anecdotal reports that cannabis is helpful in reducing post-competition pain,” said Dr. Wallace.
The second study, “Naturally Produced Cannabinoids for Pain Management and Neuroprotection from Concussion and Participation in Contact Sports,” will be led by Dr. J. Patrick Neary and researchers at the University of Regina.
The doctors said the specific goal of this project is to determine whether cannabinoids like CBD and THC can be used safely and effectively for pain management and to reduce the use of prescription medications including opioids in post-concussion syndrome athletes.
The secondary goal, they said, is to assess the neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids to reduce the incidence or severity of acute and chronic concussion in professional football players. The project will provide a foundation to explore alternative medical care related to brain trauma and chronic musculoskeletal pain for professional football players.
“The prevention and treatment of concussions is at the core of my research,” said Dr. Neary. “That’s why I am excited to have the support of the NFL on this project. Our interdisciplinary research team believes that different cannabinoid formulations found in medical cannabis have the potential to benefit athletes suffering from the acute and long-term chronic effects of concussions. Our research will also work to show that cannabinoids can be used as an alternative to opioids for pain management. Ultimately, this study has the potential to change not only the lives of current and former NFL players, but also the lives of anyone who may suffer from a concussion.”
This funding is a promising sign for the entire CBD and overall cannabinoid industry. And if cannabinoids are in fact proven to help with pain management and concussion effects, that’s huge news for supplier companies and consumers everywhere.