Osteoporosis is a bone disorder that causes thinning and weakening of the cartilage. It is a widespread condition, with one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 likely to have fractures from it in their lives. MedlinePlus reports that some factors that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis include age, gender, race, family history, taking specific medicines, and low bone density. While there are several preventative methods and treatments for osteoporosis, including hormone-related therapy and bone-building medications, a 2009 medical report published in Cell Metabolism suggests that medical cannabis could also help prevent and treat the condition.
The report titled “Cannabinoid Receptor Type 1 Protects Against Age-Related Osteoporosis by Regulating Osteoblast and Adipocyte Differentiation in Marrow Stromal Cells” explains that the type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1) found in cannabis regulates peak bone mass through an effect on osteoclast activity but protects against age-related bone loss by regulating adipocyte and osteoblast differentiation of bone marrow stromal cells. Therefore, cannabis can help protect against age-related osteoporosis by regulating these processes.
Several diseases like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, cancer, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis can lead to osteoporosis, along with certain medicines and lifestyle choices. The Mayo Clinic reports that loss of bone mass with osteoporosis produces uncomfortable symptoms such as back pain, losing height with age, having a slumped posture, and easily broken bones. Hormone-related therapy and bone-building medications are two ways to ease the condition. Antibody medications like Denosumab are also used to treat the disease.
Research published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research indicates that cannabidiol (CBD) could benefit biomechanical properties in the healing of rat mid‐femoral fractures. Using micro–computed tomography (μCT), researchers found that fracture callus size was transiently reduced by either CBD or THC four weeks after fracture but reached control level after six and eight weeks. Researchers also discovered that CBD leads to improvement in fracture healing and demonstrates the critical mechanical role of collagen crosslinking enzymes.
Medical cannabis not only helps prevent osteoporosis but also eases pain according to a 2014 European Journal of Neuroscience report titled “Involvement of the Endocannabinoid System in Osteoarthritis Pain.” The endocannabinoid system is an emerging therapeutic target for those who suffer from osteoarthritis pain. The study notes that cannabinoid receptors are present throughout the body and play a physiological role in regulating pain, inflammation, and joint function.
In conclusion, medical cannabis could help prevent osteoporosis by regulating adipocyte and osteoblast differentiation of bone marrow stromal cells. It could also aid in pain relief caused by osteoarthritis. More trials and studies need to confirm the effectiveness of medical cannabis in preventing and treating osteoporosis fully.