NFL Legend Tackles Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) with help from Cannabidiol (CBD)

Leonard Marshall takes on head trauma and brain injury

DENVER, April 13, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Super Bowl champion Leonard Marshall has renewed vigor since he stopped taking synthetic prescription drugs for CTE and started taking organic cannabidiol (CBD). And he’s taking a message about brain injury and head trauma prevention on the road to youth sports and health organizations.

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at:

A former All-Pro New York Giants defensive lineman, Marshall was diagnosed with CTE in 2013, years after he experienced consistent head trauma as a professional football player in the NFL. Over the years, CTE caused Marshall both physical and emotional pain and left him worried about the impact on his family.

Always a fighter, Marshall didn’t take his diagnosis sitting down. He conducted his own research about how to treat CTE, and he formed a nonprofit, Brain Unity Trust, to help other head trauma victims and raise awareness about the effects of concussions. In CBD, he found an organic supplement to a healthy lifestyle. “I was prescribed seriously intense prescription drugs for my CTE, but being on those kinds of medications, with their severe side effects, I just didn’t feel like myself,” said Marshall.

“Then, I heard reports that early studies suggested CBD (cannabidiol) could help prevent symptoms like irritability, aggression and motor impairment and I started looking into it. I was initially reluctant, because I didn’t want to add another substance to my system and I’m not into getting high. When I found out that CBD doesn’t have the side-effects of THC, I decided to try it,” continued Marshall.

Marshall discovered that hemp is high in cannabidiol which according to a US government patent is getting credit as a neuroprotectant. 

“I use several CBD hemp oil products, but my favorite is Respira, which I use orally or as a vape oil. CBD vape oil is great for someone like me who is on the run. I don’t need to carry around a  lot of product and it’s a way to get CBD in my system quickly when I begin to feel I need a some CBD,” said Marshall.

Some doctors and researchers are even suggesting that using CBD consistently may help prevent CTE.

“Evidence shows CBD is neuroprotective. I would have each individual take a capsule an hour or two before they play or practice. It’s better than nothing,” said Lester Grinspoon, a professor emeritus at Harvard in an interview with the Washington Post in late 2016.

A study at Johns Hopkins University which is working with Realm of Caring (ROC) is studying the effects of CBD and CTE very closely. Heather Jackson, ROC executive director said recently, “We need to get more players using it [CBD].”

Marshall was so impressed by his experience that he recently became a brand ambassador for Elixinol, a global CBD company with US-based operations in Colorado.

Retired Col. Phillip Blair (US Army) MD, a US-based CBD expert says, “The research is compelling and the increasing positive reports from CTE and brain trauma sufferers like Marshall is promising,” said Blair.

Blair says the potential is promising for both professional and youth athletes in high contact sports like football, hockey, MMA and soccer.

“As a doctor, it’s rewarding to have access to CBD which has no clinical indication of negative side effects, including addiction. The fact that CBD could possibly be a neuroprotective for CTE-prone athletes is something everyone in sports and medicine should embrace,” said Blair.

Meanwhile, less than a year after he started taking CBD, under his doctor’s care, Marshall stopped taking the prescription medications he found so difficult. “I found with CBD I had a higher pain threshold, I felt calm and finally, I felt ‘Leonard could be Leonard’ again.”

“My opinion is there’s no need for weed. CBD does the job without getting you high,” says Marshall.

He continues, “As someone who has always been concerned about what I put in my body, I prefer CBD because it’s a ‘healthy, not high’ choice and it’s a natural, plant-based product. Unlike synthetic drugs, there is no clinical evidence that you can overdose on CBD. I personally see no downside.”

But treating his own symptoms is only part of Marshall’s story and life mission. Marshall is deeply concerned about the impacts of head trauma in youth sports.

According to the CDC, almost half a million kids are treated in the emergency room for traumatic brain injury, including concussions, each year.  The CDC equates that to over 5,000 filled-to-capacity school buses of kids. Blue Cross Blue Shield reported that since 2010, there has been a 71% increase in rough sports-related concussions for patients aged 10-19.

“This is literally a life-and-death matter. It’s time we start having real, honest conversations in locker rooms, doctors offices and around the dinner table about brain trauma in professional and youth sports,” said Marshall.

Hundreds of deaths and suicides by both professional and youth athletes have been attributed to CTE and its effect on decision making, chronic pain and emotions.

“If anyone understands the passion behind playing a sport despite the risks, it's me, but I think kids need to hear more about how to play safe and what they can do to keep themselves healthy, because CTE is no joke and I don’t want to see anyone else suffer like me and my friends have. I literally wonder if I’ll be able to feed myself in 10 years, that’s terrifying,” said Marshall.

Throughout 2017, New Jersey-based Marshall will be visiting schools, youth sports organizations and health organizations to spread the word about how to prevent CTE both on and off the field. Since CTE is incurable, preventing head trauma and brain injury is imperative.

A shortened version of Leonard Marshall’s story is available on YouTube: Non-branded HD media-ready video clips of Leonard Marshall are also available for press use.

About Elixinol:

Colorado-based Elixinol, founded by Paul Benhaim, hemp entrepreneur since 1991, is widely regarded as one of the most influential CBD brands in the world. With a proven track record of growing and manufacturing high-quality hemp, Elixinol also conducts rigorous laboratory testing and quality control.  A global leader in hemp distribution, Elixinol distributes CBD products in the United States, Japan, Puerto Rico, Brazil and the UK. More information available at

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