Marijuana can help heal bone fractures

TAU researcher finds that a compound in cannabis may aid healing of bone fissures

21 July 2015
Cannabis

Marijuana has been used as a medical remedy by societies around the world for centuries. However, the therapeutic use of marijuana was banned in many countries in the 1930s and '40s due to growing fears of addiction. Only recently have researchers began investigating the significant medical benefits of marijuana in alleviating symptoms of such diseases as Parkinson's, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.

 

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.

 

The research was led jointly by Dr. Yankel Gabet of the Bone Research Laboratory at the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology in TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the late Prof. Itai Bab of Hebrew University's Bone Laboratory. 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.

 

"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 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. "We found that CBD alone makes bones stronger during healing, enhancing the maturation of the collagenous matrix, which provides the basis for new mineralization of bone tissue," said Dr. Gabet. "After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future."

 

Dr. Gabet added, "Other studies have also shown CBD to be a safe agent, which leads us to believe we should continue this line of study in clinical trials to assess its usefulness in improving human fracture healing."

 

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