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Scientists Reveal What Cannabis Does To The Bones

Image credit (with changes made): Bernhard Ungerer/Flickr

According to a study conducted by researchers from Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University, a marijuana chemical known as cannabidiol (CBD) helps fractures heal faster and even makes bones stronger than they were before (1).

The study was published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, and it’s the first time any data like this has even been published.

“We found that CBD alone makes bones stronger during healing, enhancing the maturation of the collagenous matrix, which provides the basis for new mineralization of bone tissue,” researcher Yankel Gabet said. “After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future.”

What Is CBD?

The cannabis plant contains over 85 known chemical compounds called cannabinoids. The most popular is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that is credited for getting someone “high” when they smoke or consume marijuana.

However, another cannabinoid that is quickly gaining popularity amongst those that would rather not get high is cannabidol, or CBD. CBD has been studied for many different medical applications, particularly its role in pain management. It has also been used for anxiety relief, nausea control, neuroprotection, seizure reduction, immune system support, psoriasis treatment, and more.

Bones Contain Cannabinoid Receptors

The study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (mentioned above), found that rats injected with CBD alone (they injected rats with CBD, CBD+THC or nothing at all) was “sufficiently effective in enhancing fracture healing (2).”

The study supported the same team’s prior findings that the body contains receptors that respond to cannabinoid compounds, and that these receptors are not confined to the brain. Their prior studies found that the skeleton contains cannabinoid receptors that stimulate bone formation and inhibit bone loss. This new study confirms these findings.

The most common cannabinoid receptors in the body are CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, there is a third one that is just now getting noticed, the G-protein receptor, GPR55. This receptor is primarily found in the cerebellum, where it regulates muscle movement, blood pressure and bone density (3).

This receptor affects bone density by promoting osteoclast, which regulates bone re-absorption. An overactive GPR55 receptor can activate osteoclast cell behaviour, which transfers calcium from the bones and into the blood. If there is too much re-absorption, our bones become weak, and we are put at risk of bone diseases like osteoporosis. Activation of this receptor can also lead to other bone diseases like cancer (4).

CBD, however, works by inhibiting the GPR55 receptor, thereby improving bone density and reducing the occurrence of other bone diseases. It also helps strengthen the collagen “bridge” that forms at the site of the break, which then hardens into new bone.

Exactly what the study led by researchers at Tel Aviv University found.

Medical Marijuana Benefits Undeniable

This study is only one of many studies done on marijuana that prove just how beneficial it really is.

“The clinical potential of cannabinoid-related compounds is simply undeniable at this point,” Gabet said. “While there is still a lot of work to be done to develop appropriate therapies, it is clear that it is possible to detach a clinical therapy objective from the psychoactivity of cannabis. CBD, the principal agent in our study, is primarily anti-inflammatory and has no psychoactivity (5).”

As mentioned above, CBD has been studied with promising results for many medical interventions. It can be used for chronic pain, reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, as well as slow the progression of HIV. It is also being researched as a treatment for multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

Unfortunately, despite the clear evidence, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still refuses to change their stance on marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic (yes, that means it is considered worse than meth and cocaine – pretty crazy, huh?). Keeping marijuana as a Schedule I drug, means that it will never be considered “medically applicable” (but meth and cocaine apparently are medically applicable, as they are scheduled under “Schedule II” — something doesn’t add up here!).

Research will continue to be limited in human subjects as long as marijuana remains a Schedule I drug. This means “sufficient evidence” will be nearly impossible to come by when it comes to finding solid research on this medical miracle.

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