Monday September 7, 2015
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, rats that were administered a specific cannabinoid (CBD) had a markedly increased ability to heal from bone fractures and were less likely to experience a re-fracture later. Though the same cannot be said for rats who received both cannabinoids, THC and CBD, the results of CBD-only treatment are promising.
What is CBD?
The cannabis plant contains over 85 known chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Of these, the most popular is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) thanks to its profound influence on the brain and body. THC is to credit for the “high” that accompanies marijuana ingestion -- for the better or the worse – by interacting with cannabinoid receptors throughout the body..
But THC isn’t our focus today. Today, we’re looking at another cannabinoid that’s quickly gaining in popularity despite its non-psychoactive properties: Cannabidol, or CBD.
CBD differs from THC and other cannabinoids in that it does not actually bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain or body. On the contrary, in fact, it actually seems to block these receptors thus helping mediate the powerful effects of THC.
Medical applications for CBD include neuroprotection, nausea control, seizure reduction, anxiety relief, immune system support, cancer cell apoptosis, blood sugar regulation, psoriasis treatment, bone stimulation and much more.
How does CBD impact bone growth?
Though we commonly refer to only two cannabinoid receptors in the body (CB1 and CB2 receptors), there is a third one that’s 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.
One way this receptor affects bone density is through its promotion of osteoclast which regulates bone reabsorption. An overactive GPR55 receptor can cause an uptick in osteoclast cell behavior which transfers calcium from the bones into the blood. Too much of this bone reabsorption can lead to a weakened bone structure and is the main cause of Osteoporosis. Activation of the GPR55 receptor may also lead to other bone diseases like cancer.
CBD works by inhibiting the GPR55 receptor thus improving bone density and reducing the occurrence of other bone diseases. It also strengthens the collagen “bridge” that forms at the site of the break which then hardens into new bone. Interestingly, CBD bone treatment also seems to make the damaged bone stronger in the long run and thus less susceptible to re-fracture.
This is great news for the medical community considering the fact that there is no known cure for bone diseases like Osteoporosis (though supplements like calcium and Vitamin D can help). So why is the FDA still so slow to approve cannabis as a treatment for low bone density? You can thank cannabis’s unfounded Schedule I narcotic label for that.
Why do we need more marijuana research (and why are we not getting it)?
Despite compelling evidence, the FDA still refuses to change their stance on marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic. Though the most common reason for this is a “lack of sufficient evidence”, as long as it remains Schedule I (meaning that there is no acceptable medical application for it), research will be limited and “sufficient evidence” will be nearly impossible to come by.
Until we have a representative in office who shares our cannabis curiosity, marijuana will likely remain a taboo form of “alternative” medicine. Fortunately, with elections quickly approaching, we have the opportunity to vote for a presidential candidate who favors marijuana reform.