According to Dr. Gabet, our bodies are equipped with a cannabinoid system, which regulates both vital and non-vital systems. “We only respond to cannabis because we are built with intrinsic compounds and receptors that can also be activated by compounds in the cannabis plant,” he said. The researchers found that the skeleton itself is regulated by cannabinoids. Even the addition of a non-psychogenic compound acting outside of the brain can affect the skeleton.
A new study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research by Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University researchers explores another promising new medical application for marijuana. According to the research, the administration of the non-psychotropic component cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) significantly helps heal bone fractures. The study, conducted on rats with mid-femoral fractures, found that CBD — even when isolated from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component of cannabis — markedly enhanced the healing process of the femora after just eight weeks.
Undeniable clinical potential
Tel Aviv University researcher finds non-psychotropic compound in marijuana can help heal bone fissures
The researchers injected one group of rats with CBD alone and another with a combination of CBD and THC. After evaluating the administration of THC and CBD together in the rats, they found CBD alone provided the necessary therapeutic stimulus.
“The clinical potential of cannabinoid-related compounds is simply undeniable at this point,” said Dr. Gabet. “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.”
The same team, in earlier research, discovered that cannabinoid receptors within our bodies stimulated bone formation and inhibited bone loss. This paves the way for the future use of cannabinoid drugs to combat osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases.
Separating the components out
Cannabinoid ligands regulate bone mass, but skeletal effects of cannabis (marijuana and hashish) have not been reported. Bone fractures are highly prevalent, involving prolonged immobilization and discomfort. Here we report that the major non-psychoactive cannabis constituent, cannabidiol (CBD), enhances the biomechanical properties of healing rat mid-femoral fractures. The maximal load and work-to-failure, but not the stiffness, of femurs from rats given a mixture of CBD and Δ(9) -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for 8 weeks were markedly increased by CBD. This effect is not shared by THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis), but THC potentiates the CBD stimulated work-to-failure at 6 weeks postfracture followed by attenuation of the CBD effect at 8 weeks. Using micro-computed tomography (μCT), the fracture callus size was transiently reduced by either CBD or THC 4 weeks after fracture but reached control level after 6 and 8 weeks. The callus material density was unaffected by CBD and/or THC. By contrast, CBD stimulated mRNA expression of Plod1 in primary osteoblast cultures, encoding an enzyme that catalyzes lysine hydroxylation, which is in turn involved in collagen crosslinking and stabilization. Using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy we confirmed the increase in collagen crosslink ratio by CBD, which is likely to contribute to the improved biomechanical properties of the fracture callus. Taken together, these data show that CBD leads to improvement in fracture healing and demonstrate the critical mechanical role of collagen crosslinking enzymes.
Keywords: CANNABIDIOL; COLLAGEN CROSSLINKING; FRACTURE HEALING; FTIR; LYSYL HYDROXYLASE; μCT.
I heard about a study showing that cannabis can help heal broken bones. is this true? Where might this treatment be available?
However, since CBD is derived from cannabis, the U.S. and many other governments regard it as off limits for clinical trials. In the U.S., cannabis is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
Bone cells express receptors for cannabinoids, the active components of cannabis. The brain also has a high concentration of cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors. When these receptors bind with the main psychoactive cannabinoid in the plant (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC), we experience the “high” associated with cannabis. Dr. Abrams adds that humans – and all animal species down to sponges – have cannabinoid receptors, not because we were meant to use cannabis, but because we make our own endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids). These substances are involved in many physiologic functions, with modulation of pain being one of the most important. Another plant cannabinoid that has been getting a lot of scientific attention is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is not psychoactive but has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory activity. At this point, the only conditions for which CBD has been proved effective are two forms of childhood epilepsy. A CBD pharmaceutical product, Epidiolex, has been approved by the FDA for treating these disorders.
Dr. Abrams says that cannabis might help decrease pain associated with a fracture, but at present, its role in accelerating bone healing is theoretical. He notes that the Israeli study was performed in rats with broken thighbones, not in people. We don’t yet know if the compound tested would be effective in treating human fractures.
Based on animal studies and some preliminary human data, it appears that cannabinoids may boost the effectiveness of opioid painkillers, making it possible to reduce dosages of those drugs. Dr. Abrams suggests that if you break a bone and live in a state with legal access to medical cannabis, you could consider using a CBD-rich strain for pain relief. (Of course, you should also follow conventional treatment recommendations.)