Overview of Hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus is the condition where fluid accumulates in the ventricles, or cavities, of the brain. The fluid that builds up is cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which surrounds both the brain and spinal cord to keep the brain buoyant, provide cushioning, moderate pressure and remove waste products. An imbalance in how much CSF is produced and how much is absorbed in the bloodstream is what causes hydrocephalus and the buildup of CSF can put pressure on the brain and cause impairments in function.

Why hydrocephalus develops is still unknown, but according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, it may result from inherited genetic abnormalities or developmental disorders.

Common symptoms of hydrocephalus include an unusually large head or a bulging or tense soft spot on the top of the head, nausea and vomiting, irritability, seizures, sleepiness, poor feeding, poor balance, headaches, decline in memory and concentration. The condition, especially in infants, poses risks to cognitive and physical development.

Surgery, where a shunt is inserted to divert the CNS elsewhere so that it can be absorbed, is capable of restoring the CSF back to normal levels, but it commonly requires a variety of methods to comprehensively manage the symptoms associated with the condition.

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Hydrocephalus

Medical cannabis can help treat the symptoms associated with hydrocephalus. Cannabis has shown to be effective at managing seizures, nausea, sleep problems and pain.

Cannabis has been proven to decrease or prevent nausea and vomiting (Sharkey, Darmani & Parker, 2014) (Parker, et al., 2015). Two major cannabinoids found in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) regulate nausea and vomiting because they activate cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) of the endocannabinoid system and activating the CB1 receptor has been shown to suppress vomiting (Parker, et al., 2003).

CBD has been shown to be a well-tolerated and promising therapeutic treatment for reducing or even eliminate seizures (Blair, Deshpande & DeLorenzo, 2015). CBD’s activation of the CB1 receptor dampens the release of a neurotransmitter and causes an overall reduction in neuronal excitability (Wallace, Wiley, Martin & DeLorenzo, 2001) (Hoffman & Frazier, 2013).

THC and CBD have demonstrated they are both effective at lowering pain levels caused by a variety of affections, including some cancer, neuropathy, spasticity, headache, migraines, and other acute pain and chronic pain conditions (Jensen, Chen, Furnish & Wallace, 2015) (Baron, 2015).


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