For years, scientists have uncovered the medical benefits of cannabis for treating everything from anxiety and insomnia to more debilitating disorders like Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and cancer—to name a few. Now, Israeli researchers at Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University have found yet another medical use of cannabis: treating broken bones.
The new study, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, examined the effects of non-psychoactive CBD on broken bones. Cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in cannabis that is particularly favorable for treatment because unlike tetrayhydrocannibinol (THC)—the best-known cannabinoid—CBD offers medical advantages without inflicting the “high” traditionally associated with marijuana (because of this, it is widely used to stop seizures in epileptic children).
While the same research team previously discovered that CBD was effective in stimulating the formation of bone and inhibiting bone loss, the new study analyzed broken bones, specifically. According to the researchers,
“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 scientists also studied the effects of CBD in conjunction with THC and found that CBD alone was sufficient to facilitate healing. As one of the lead researchers, Dr. Yankel Gabet of the Bone Research Laboratory at the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, said,
“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…After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future.”
Though the study was conducted on rats, the findings have far-reaching implications for humans. “We only respond to cannabis because we are built with intrinsic compounds and receptors that can also be activated by compounds in the cannabis plant,” Gabet explained.
The researchers also established that the skeletal system is regulated by cannabinoids. Because of humans’ innate responsiveness to cannabis, they believe CBD can help treat osteoporosis (a condition that causes bones to become brittle and porous) and other bone-related diseases.
Even so, the study’s authors cautioned that much research is still needed. “The clinical potential of cannabinoid-related compounds is simply undeniable at this point,” Gabet said. “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.”
From short-term to chronic, mental to physical, and minor to major ailments, the medical benefits of cannabis are no longer disputable. The biggest impediment to unleashing the full medical potential of marijuana, at this point, remains the increasingly archaic global War on Drugs and governments’ uninformed, stubborn refusals to legalize treatment.