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  • Can Football Wait For A Drug That Will Protect The Brain From Traumatic Injury?

    September 7, 2017: by Bill Sardi

    The pressure is mounting.  Professional football has set aside $1 billion to handle claims by retired NFL football players.  The legal profession is going to get up to 40% of that money. It will cover brain injuries incurred by 20,000 ex-NFL players.  But that doesn’t fix the ongoing problem of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussions and the problem is not just confined to professional football or football alone.

    Concussion Watch reports 199 concussions in the NFL in 2015, the most recent year data is reported.  But how many more concussions were there in college and high school football?  And it’s not just football, it’s also ice hockey, wrestling, basketball and other sports.

    Road to nowhere

    And just exactly what, beyond exhaustive brain scans for diagnosis, does modern medicine have to treat the long-term sequelae after years of playing football?  Nothing.  This appears to be a road to nowhere.

    No pill, regardless of how brain-protective it is, is going to give permission for athletes to intentionally butt heads together and create internal brain injuries that may last a remaining lifetime.  It’s a humpty dumpty story.

    There goes the farm system for the NFL

    If kids are swayed away from playing football by their parents, there goes the deep farm system that supplies the NFL with future players.  Maybe the game itself is in jeopardy.

    It’s a drug deficiency

    Modern pharmacology addresses the problem of traumatic brain injury (TB)I like it is a drug deficiency.  A news report says: “A concussion pill has eluded drug developers for decades.”  If the NFL wants to save itself, it may not want to wait another decade for a concussion pill.

    What pharmacologists are actually saying is that there is no synthetically engineered molecule that will be patentable and provide timely therapy for this condition given it may take over a decade to undergo human trials and gain Food & Drug Administration approval.  In the meantime, everyone involved is supposed to hold their breath and wait for a pharmacological brain elixir, right?

    Are we going to have a pill for each type of concussion?

    Pharmacologists misleadingly claim there is “not a single medicine that has been shown to protect the brain from destruction wrought in the hours and days after a blunt head trauma …. There is no pill to stop neurons from dying, no treatment to prevent inflammation in the brain.”  One seemingly frustrated pharmacologist says  “We constantly are pushing the rock up the hill, and it continuously rolls back down.”

    Pharmacologists absurdly suggest there has to be a different pill for each and every type of brain trauma. … That’s a problem because what works for one type of brain injury might not work for another…. TBI isn’t a single ailment. A hard hit on the football field can prompt a brain injury. But so too can a gunshot wound, a car crash, or a fall from a ladder.”

    Pharmacologists just say: “Most drug trials don’t account for this diversity” (whatever that means).  “There are more intelligent drugs being designed.”

    Shall we wait till there is a pill to specifically treat kids who fall off bunk beds and experience a concussion?  This is absurd.

    Oh no!

    And things just got worse.  According to a recently published study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, TBI is more common than first believed.  A summary of the report in the New York Times says: “of the donated brains of 202 men who had played football across various age levels showed that 177 had the graphic scars confirming the diminished powers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a disease caused by repeated blows to the head. The study found C.T.E. in all but one of 111 brains donated by National Football League retirees and their concerned families.”  Yikes!

    Race is on to develop a concussion pill

    An article published at says the race is on to develop a pill that actually repairs brain damage.   One pharmaceutical company chief says a “concussion pill” may be coming as soon as 2015.  Pharmacologists say they hope such a pill will be here in 10 years.

    So now what?  Attorneys are going to get paid.  Doctors are going to get paid.  That is all that has been accomplished.

    There must be something that can reduce chronic brain inflammation induced by repeated head trauma.

    There is.

    Forget modern medicine.  It cannot provide a timely nor affordable answer for the growing problem of traumatic brain injury.  Ethically, researchers can’t conduct human studies and treat one group of traumatic brain injury sufferers with medicine and another group with an inactive placebo pill.  The prospect of a conclusive study is nil.  Affected players will have to rely upon the best available evidence at this time, which comes from animal lab experiments.

    Best tested: resveratrol

    The best-tested natural molecule for head trauma is resveratrol, known as a red wine molecule.  I know this because I formulated a tested resveratrol pill over a decade ago and write a regular column about this molecule at

    Resveratrol pills abound though they vary greatly in quality and dosage.  In the past dozen years since resveratrol pills became available as a dietary supplement, there have been no reported serious side effects (hospitalization or deaths).  Resveratrol pills may not be appropriate for growing kids because they induce anti-growth factors and may induce anemia in high doses.  And mega-dose resveratrol can induce frontal headaches, anxiety reactions, skin rash, flu-like symptoms, Achilles heel inflammation (tendonitis) and interfere with existing medications.  But these are transient symptoms resolved by backing away from taking them and not commonly reported.

    Here is the evidence:

    Four years ago (2013) a mega-dose of resveratrol was shown to remarkably reduce damage to the brain 5 and 12 hours AFTER mild brain trauma.  The intentional brain injury was induced in lab animals and overcome with a human equivalent single dose of 7000 milligrams of resveratrol, which would be an impractical and problematic dose over the long term.  But it does provide evidence for the use of resveratrol in brain injuries.

    In another animal study a similar protective effect was observed in laboratory animals that had heavy weights dropped on their skulls and mega-dose resveratrol had a healing effect upon brain neurons after the event.

    In yet another animal study daily mega-dose resveratrol was administered and reduced brain edema (swelling) and improved cognition (thinking).  Researchers concluded: “resveratrol may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for traumatic brain injury.”

    There are other corroborative studies.

    Resveratrol is not just preventive but also therapeutic (i.e. works to restore brain tissues after trauma).

    While a relatively low (700 mg human equivalent) initial dose of resveratrol was ineffective in one study and only a mega-dose (7000 mg) exhibited a restorative effect (behavior improvement) after intentionally induce brain trauma in lab animals, lower doses can be effective when combined with other natural molecules.

    Which dose?

    Unfortunately, researchers concede they have not determined the lowest effective dose of resveratrol that produces a beneficial effect after brain trauma when used on a daily rather than single-time basis following brain trauma.

    One brand of resveratrol (Longevinex®), a product I formulated, has been shown to be non-toxic at relatively high doses (2800 mg) compared to the same dose of plain resveratrol that is toxic in laboratory animals and is the only brand of resveratrol that has undergone toxicity testing.

    It is known that resveratrol when combined with other similar natural molecules exerts a synergistic rather than additive effect.  It is possible daily low-dose resveratrol may be beneficial when combined with other molecules.  Synergistic effects (9-fold greater) have been achieved with a low-dose of combined molecules (304 milligrams resveratrol, quercetin, rice bran IP6 in a commercially available resveratrol pill– Longevinex®).

    A man taking Longevinex® reports he regained his memory 35 years after traumatic brain injury.  It’s only a report of one person.  But it may point to a remedy.

    What now?

    This report may seem a bit self-serving given that it touts a commercial brand of resveratrol I formulated, but it is currently the best-tested resveratrol pill and is unusually non-toxic even if accidentally or intentionally overdosed.  NFL trainers and emergency room docs may want to keep a bottle of resveratrol pills handy for use after the game or after brain trauma is reported.  What harm could come from it?  — ©2017 Bill Sardi,

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