Using Medical Cannabis in the Battle Against Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is when small holes or weakened areas are formed in the bone that can lead to fractures, pain, and a Dowager’s hump. It is generally seen in older women over the age of 50. The disease often develops unnoticed over many years, with no symptoms or discomfort until a fracture occurs.

The main causes of osteoporosis include:

  • Inactivity
  • Aging
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Long-term use of certain medications
  • Steroid use
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Emotional stress
  • Nutritional deficiencies

The good news is there are natural treatments such as an osteoporosis diet that can boost bone density together with medical cannabis and supplements that are highly effective.

New research is now revealing that the endocannabinoid system plays a significant natural roll in the development of bone mass, leading to the question of whether or not medicinal cannabis can play a role in fighting osteoporosis.

In most biological organisms, including humans, the presence of functional endocannabinoids and their potential physiological roles were discovered about 30 years ago. Recently, researchers have discovered the presence of cannabinoid receptors in bone tissues. CB2 is predominantly expressed in osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) and osteoclasts (bone resorbing cells). It has been shown that cannabinoid receptors are vital for regulation of bone metabolism. Physiologically, the balance between osteoblasts and osteoclasts is vital for maintenance of optimal bone health. As we age, the balance gets impaired, and leads to bone density loss and osteoporosis.

Although bone structures are appreciably regulated by CB2 receptors, CB1 receptor-deficient experimental animals have been shown to suffer increased bone resorption with reduced bone formation. Similarly, CB2-deficient experimental animals remarkably suffer age dependent low bone density, trabecular bone loss and related fractures. Surprisingly, activation of CB2 receptors has inhibited bone resorption and stimulated bone formation.

CB2 is predominantly expressed in osteoclasts, osteoblasts and osteocytes. CB2 agonists, including cannabidiol, can modulate these receptors’ functions. These agonists enhance osteoblast count and activity while inhibiting osteoclast precursor proliferation and expression of osteoblasts. These properties facilitate stimulation of endocortical bone formation, suppression of bone loss and help the body to maintain normal bone mass.

Not only the presence of cannabinoid receptors, but also the synthesis of endocannabinoids in the bones, has been confirmed by research studies. These studies have found higher levels of endocannabinoids and ligands, including 2-AG and anandamide, in the bones than in brain cells. Anadamide directly influences bone tissue by binding with CB2 receptors.

Based on this evidence, a follow-up study has shown that activation of CB2 receptors significantly reduced experimentally-induced bone loss and improved bone formation. Researchers now confirm the functional involvement of CB2 receptors in the maintenance of bone metabolism and bone-protective benefits against age-related bone loss disorders, including osteoporosis.

Conclusion

It appears that the use of cannabis or cannabinoids for the prevention of osteoporosis may be a safer and more effective treatment than standard pharmaceuticals.  In addition, cannabis can enhance the healing process with bone fractures.

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