In part 1 of this 3-part series, we examine how CBD can heal fractures and promote bone growth
Israel has been a pioneer in medical cannabis research and development for more than 50 years. Backed by strong government support, the tiny middle eastern nation’s progressive approach to cannabis studies has propelled it miles ahead of most other countries.
One of the areas in which Israeli cannabis research looks promising is in the study of bone fractures and healing.
As you may know, bone fractures can happen to anyone at any age at any time and can cause prolonged immobilization, discomfort, and pain. It can be the result of high force impact or stress. Or it can result from a minimal trauma injury as a result of certain medical conditions that weaken the bones. For example, osteoporosis, bone cancer, or osteogenesis imperfecta can cause bones to break easily.
Surprisingly, not much has changed in the treatment of bone fractures over thousands of years. Generally, bone fracture treatment consists of a doctor pushing displaced bones back into place, stabilizing their position to aid union, and then waiting for the bone’s natural healing process to occur.
If you’ve ever experienced a fracture, then you probably know that bones can take a long time to heal.
First, a soft callus made mostly of collagen is created around the fracture by a group of cells called chondroblasts. This stage can last anywhere from 4 days to 3 weeks. Next, a hard callus forms as osteoblasts (bone building cells) create new bone, adding minerals to make it hard. This stage typically begins 2 weeks after the break, and ends somewhere between the 6th and 12th week. Finally, the bone is remodeled as cells called osteoclasts break down extra bone around the fracture until it’s completely healed and returned to its original shape. It takes 3 to 9 years for bone remodeling to complete its process.
Pain management, immobilization, and sometimes surgery are the general treatments, but patients would still have to wait for the fractured bone to go through its natural healing process to get better.
However, thanks to research into the potential bone healing properties of cannabidiol (CBD), the major non-psychoactive component in cannabis, all of that could change.
Israeli researchers discover CBD is good for bone health
Groundbreaking research in a combined study by scientists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University found that CBD enhanced fracture healing.
In a study conducted with rats that had broken femoral bones, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the maximum force and work-to-failure (or toughness) of a rat’s femur bone was increased after 8 weeks with the administration of CBD.
How did this happen?
In the study, CBD selectively stimulated Lysyl Hydroxylase 1 (PLOD1) activity in bone building cells. Lysyl Hydroxylase is an enzyme that helps to heal bones through collagen crosslinking and stabilization.
The researchers were then able to confirm that CBD increased the collagen crosslink ratio (measures collagen maturity) which helped enhance the strength and toughness of the callus, which in turn allowed it to do its job in mending the broken bone.
The study concluded that, “CBD leads to improvement in fracture healing and demonstrates the critical mechanical role of collagen crosslinking enzymes.”
What’s also interesting is that this study’s findings about PLOD1 open a new door into the potential treatment of several other conditions which include:
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which is a group of disorders that affect the connective tissues that support the skin, bones, blood vessels, and many other organs and tissues.
- Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD; formerly chronic lung disease of infancy) which is a chronic lung disorder of infants and children.
- Bicuspid aortic wall–associated aneurysms which are bulges in a section of the aorta or the body’s main artery. Because the section with the aneurysm is overstretched and weak, it can burst.
- Cancer metastases or the spread of cancer through the body such as the liver, lungs, lymph nodes, and bones.
These findings have caused quite a stir in the medical community as prior research into the health benefits of CBD had only focused on its anti-seizure, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-tumor, anti-psychotic, and anti-anxiety properties.
The addition of CBD as a treatment for bone fractures and healing just adds even more to the already long and impressive list of health benefits.
Although further studies are needed in humans to assess its usefulness for improving fracture healing, the results found in the rat models are nothing short of amazing and could have far-reaching implications beyond bone fractures and growth.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our 3-part series as we dive into the use of CBD for treating osteoporosis.
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