I recently sat down with Julius Curry, a retired American football player. He played college football as a strong safety and punt returner for the University of Michigan. Curry's professional career included stints with the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers. After his as NFL career, he started Curry Racing, LLC which has participated extensively in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
When I decided to write this blog, only one person came to mind that could provide me with perspectives on the current state of cannabis and CBD in contact sports. Curry's extensive experience on the football field combined with our many conversations about CBD wellness reassured me that he was the right source for this commentary.
But before we meet Mr. Curry, let’s get an overview about CTE.
What is CTE?
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma (often athletes), including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms.
According to New York Times, the degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head has been found in the brains of more than 315 former N.F.L. players.
CTE has been found in the brains of people who played football and other contact sports, including boxing. It may also occur in military personnel who were exposed to explosives during combat.
Symptoms of CTE
There are no specific symptoms that have been clearly linked to CTE. Some of the possible signs and symptoms of CTE can occur in many other conditions. In the few people with confirmed CTE, signs and symptoms have included cognitive, behavioral, mood and motor changes.
Other symptoms may include, suicidal thoughts or behavior, Parkinsonism and motor neuron disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, CTE symptoms don't develop right after a head injury, but experts believe that they might develop over years or decades after repeated head trauma.
Does cannabis help with CTE?
There's limited scientific evidence that CBD and cannabis can help CTE currently, but I believe studies are looking very promising and going in the right direction.
Retired NFL football players are changing the narrative as headlines as outspoken NFL alumni and cannabis advocates such as Eugene Monroe and Ricky Williams.
This month the NFL awarded $1 million to study the impact of cannabis and CBD on pain management. What are your initial thoughts on this announcement?
The time is NOW! I think it is a great opportunity and perfect time for the NFL to start studying cannabis and CBD. I’ve been a legal patient since 2008 and I had to research what strains were good for me and now former players can feel comfortable and supported about having an alternative that is not only good for pain but for quality of life and mental health issues such as depression and suicide.
How do you think this research will impact how sports medicine professionals respond to CBD and cannabis as viable therapy treatment options?
I feel the impact will be this type of research will allow sports medicine professionals to have real time data and information that can support positive outcomes.
As more players feel comfortable and educated about the medical benefits of cannabis and CBD products. At the end of the day the physical and mental health of athletes is what matters most.
As a former NFL Football Player and owner of Julius Curry Racing, I bet it’s been a very interesting year now that NASCAR and the NFL are considering CBD for sponsorships and furthering more research. Do you see motorsports taking an interest in CBD and cannabis research?
It’s very exciting hearing that research will be available. The guessing game is over. Professional athletes deserve the right to have alternative options and support from the NFL and NASCAR is a dream come true.
I definitely see motorsports taking an interest into CBD and cannabis research. Former and current drivers and pit crew members need an alternative pain management option.
It’s just a matter of time before drivers and pit crew will be able to explore the benefits of cannabis and have research to prove it’s a better option.
I plan on being a part of the research and I hope to be an example that cannabis and CBD is a great alternative medicine for pain and mental health for both former NFL players and NASCAR drivers/pit crew.
Thank you Mr. Curry for taking the time to speak with us. I look forward to working with you on our autism collaboration in summer 2022.
More about Julius Curry:
Julius Curry Racing is a brand-building race team with focus on promoting racing events, racing leagues, racing clubs, diversity, inclusion, social equity, corporate responsibility, and STEM-based education throughout the United States.
Follow Julius Curry Racing on social media at on Instagram @juliuscurryracing and @jcurryracing on Twitter and Facebook.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). (2021). alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/related_conditions/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy-(cte)
McCartney D, et al. (2020). Cannabidiol and sports performance: A narrative review of relevant evidence and recommendation for future research. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7338332/
Russo EB, et al (2018). Cannabis therapeutics and the future of neurology. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6200872/
Schurman, LD et al. (2017). Endocannabinoids: A promising impact for traumatic brain injury. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5314139/