Cannabinoids in traumatic brain injury and related neuropathologies: preclinical and clinical research on endogenous, plant-derived, and synthetic compounds

J Neuroinflammation. 2023 Mar 19;20(1):77. doi: 10.1186/s12974-023-02734-9.


Traumatic brain injury is common, and often results in debilitating consequences. Even mild traumatic brain injury leaves approximately 20% of patients with symptoms that persist for months. Despite great clinical need there are currently no approved pharmaceutical interventions that improve outcomes after traumatic brain injury. Increased understanding of the endocannabinoid system in health and disease has accompanied growing evidence for therapeutic benefits of Cannabis sativa. This has driven research of Cannabis' active chemical constituents (phytocannabinoids), alongside endogenous and synthetic counterparts, collectively known as cannabinoids. Also of therapeutic interest are other Cannabis constituents, such as terpenes. Cannabinoids interact with neurons, microglia, and astrocytes, and exert anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects which are highly desirable for the management of traumatic brain injury. In this review, we comprehensively appraised the relevant scientific literature, where major and minor phytocannabinoids, terpenes, synthetic cannabinoids, and endogenous cannabinoids were assessed in TBI, or other neurological conditions with pathology and symptomology relevant to TBI, as well as recent studies in preclinical TBI models and clinical TBI populations.

Keywords: CNS injury; Concussion; Endocannabinoid system; Inflammation; Neuroprotection; Neurotrauma; Terpenes; Traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Concussion*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
  • Cannabinoids* / pharmacology
  • Cannabinoids* / therapeutic use
  • Cannabis* / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use


  • Cannabinoids
  • Terpenes
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists