Even though the U.S. government portrays cannabis as a dangerous drug, this herb has been used as a medicine for thousands of years to improve people’s physical and mental health. Despite the government’s continued efforts to ban it, cannabis is scientifically proven to treat chronic pain, anxiety, and even seizures. A new study suggests that one of its active compounds has the potential to heal bones, which is great news for people suffering from conditions that affect their bones.
Factors That Affect The Health Of Your Bones
Age Increases Fracture Risk
Age plays an important role in the frequency of open fractures, in which the bone tears the skin upon breaking. A 15-year study compared open fracture incidents in patients who were 65 years old or younger to patients belonging in other age groups. The study recorded about 296 open fracture incidents per year in patients younger than 65. Patients who were 65 years old or older had 332 incidents per year and 80-year-old or older patients had 446 incidents per year. (3)
The study also reports that open fracture incidents increase sharply for women when they turn 70. The most common open fractures in women affect the bones in the forearms, wrists, fingers, calves, and ankles. More than half of these fractures are caused by a fall or small injuries. (3)
Menopause Causes Osteoporosis
Post-menopausal women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and suffer from bone fractures as a result. (10) Menopause causes estrogen deficiency, which causes fast bone mass loss. (7) The loss of bone mass compromises the strength of your bones, which can decrease the quality of your life by causing chronic pain, illness, and even death. (10)
Vitamin D Deficiency Reduces Bone Mass
Vitamin D deficiency is a prevalent condition around the world, including the U.S., as 17% of children and about 40% of adults and elders in the U.S. are vitamin D deficient. (9)
Vitamin D deficiency has devastating effects on the health of bones because vitamin D is important for the formation of new bones. To form a new bone, groups of bone cells called osteoblasts secrete a substance called osteoid. When the osteoid is combined with the bone cells, it develops into bone tissue. Low vitamin D can make this process impossible and may prevent new bone tissue from forming, which leads to loss of bone mass. A study found that in addition to reduced bone mass, vitamin D deficiency also contributes to the early aging of bones and makes bones more susceptible to fractures. (2)
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New Research About Cannabis And Fracture Healing
A new study suggests that cannabis can improve the healing of fractured bones thanks to one of its major compounds, cannabidiol. (5) All strains of cannabis have two major compounds, Δ9 – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The primary difference between the two compounds is that THC is psychoactive and is used recreationally, whereas CBD is medicinal. (4)
THC is psychoactive because it can bind perfectly to the CB1 receptors in the brain and stimulates them, which causes feelings of euphoria or paranoia. CBD, however, doesn’t bind as well and as it’s less likely to activate the receptors, it suppresses the negative effects of THC. (6)
The study observed the healing of fractured thigh bones in rats who received CBD. After the fracture, the rats were given a mixture of THC and CBD for 8 weeks, which increased the amount of times they could repeat an exercise before their body lost its strength thanks to the high CBD content. The mixture included both compounds because THC increases the effect of CBD. (5)
CBD stimulated the Plod1 gene in osteoblasts, which are groups of bone cells, to make an enzyme called lysyl hydroxylase 1. This enzyme converted the amino-acid lysine to hydroxylysine, which is found in collagen molecules that provide strength to body tissues, including bone tissue. (8) The study concluded that CBD improves the healing of fractures. (5)
Even though research hasn’t confirmed yet that CBD can heal human bones, this study is promising and opens the door for new research conducted on human participants in the future. In the meantime, you can protect your bones with diet and exercise.
- Eat foods rich in calcium or products that are fortified with calcium. (1)
- Take vitamin D supplements or eat foods that are fortified with vitamin D, as the only natural source of this vitamin is sunlight. (1)
- Do activities that make you work against gravity, such as walking, jogging, dancing, hiking, climbing stairs, and playing tennis. (11)
- Try strength training exercises using weights and resistance bands or do push-ups. (11)
- Include balance, posture, and flexibility exercises in your workout routine, such as stretches, standing on one leg, and walking in a straight line touching your toes with your heels. (11)
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(1) Buffum Taylor, R. (2009, April 30). 12 Foods to Boost Bone Health.
(2) Busse, B., Bale, H. A., Zimmermann, E. A., Panganiban, B., Barth, H. D., Carriero, A. … & Ritchie, R. O. (2013). Vitamin D deficiency induces early signs of aging in human bone, increasing the risk of fracture. Science Translational Medicine, 5(193), 193ra88.
(3) Court-Brown, C. M., Biant, L. C., Clement, N. D., Bugler, K. E., Duckworth, A. D., & McQueen, M. M. (2015). Injury, 46(2), 189-194.
(4) Englund, A., Morrison, P. D., Nottage, J., Hague, D., Kane, F., Bonaccorso, S., … & Kapur, S. (2012). Cannabidiol inhibits THC-elicited paranoid symptoms and hippocampal-dependent memory impairment. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 27(1), 19-27.
(5) Kogan, N. M., Melamed, E., Wasserman, E., Raphael, B., Breuer, A., Stok, K. S., … & Bab, I. (2015). Cannabidiol, a Major Non-Psychotropic Cannabis Constituent Enhances Fracture Healing and Stimulates Lysyl Hydroxylase Activity in Osteoblasts. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 30(10), 1905-1913.
(6) Mahler, S. V., Smith, K. S., & Berridge, K. C. (2007). Endocannabinoid Hedonic Hotspot for Sensory Pleasure: Anandamide in Nucleus Accumbens Shell Enhances ‘Liking’ of a Sweet Reward. Neuropsychopharmacology, 32, 2267-2278.
(7) Mojibian, M., Oulia, M. B., Beiki Bandarabadi, O., & Kouchak Yazdi, L. (2006). Osteoporosis In Postmenopausal Women. Iranian Journal Of Surgery, 14(1), 71-78.
(8) PLOD1 gene. (2017, July 18). In U.S. National Library of Medicine.
(9) Palacios, C. & Gonzalez, L. (2014). Is vitamin D deficiency a major global public health problem? The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 144PA, 138–145.
(10) Redonda, M. (2006). Osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Geriatrics, 61(1), 24-30.
(11) Zelman, D. (2015). Build Stronger Bones With Exercise.
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