According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), an estimated 44 million people aged 50+ have either osteoporosis or low bone mass (which means a severe risk of ending up with the condition). This figure represents 55% of the 50+ population, and the number of people at risk is increasing rapidly. Prescription medication is hit and miss, so can CBD help treat osteoporosis and improve bone health?
In this article we will dive into the recent medical research and explore whether or not CBD can be used as an effective treatment for Osteoporosis and Bone Health.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
The word ‘osteoporosis’ means ‘porous bones,’ and it is a condition that causes the bones to weaken over time, thus increasing the risk of breakages and fractures. An estimated two million fractures happen in the U.S. annually due to the effects of osteoporosis. At least 8.9 million people have the condition with tens of millions more at risk due to low bone mass.
The precise cause of the condition is unknown, but we know all about the breaking down process. Our bones are broken down and repeatedly replaced in a process called ‘bone remodeling’. It begins at a young age and peaks by the time we reach our late twenties. The loss of bone mass occurs when the breakdown of the bones happens at a faster rate than the build-up.
Eventually, the bones start to lose calcium faster than they can replace it, so the bones become thinner. In women, the loss of bone mass occurs rapidly in the first seven years after menopause before slowing down.
There are also certain medical conditions that increase the likelihood of bone breakdown. Such conditions include Cushing’s syndrome, overactive thyroid, or kidney disease.
Conventional Osteoporosis Treatments & Their Side Effects (Not CBD)
While it is impossible to reverse the osteoporosis process completely, there are ways and means to slow down the bone density loss. A change in lifestyle is probably necessary. You need to increase the amount of calcium and vitamin D in your diet; good food and drink choices include milk, low-fat yogurt, broccoli, cauliflower, tofu, salmon and leafy green vegetables. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as possible.
There is also an array of prescription drugs designed to slow down the breakdown of bone mass. The biphosphonates family of drugs is popular and includes Boniva, Zometa, and Actonel. First of all, bisphosphonates don’t have a great track record in terms of efficacy. Secondly, this type of medication can cause some serious side effects such as esophagus ulcers, femur fractures, skin rash, low calcium in the blood, and bone, joint and muscle pain. In contrast, CBD has few side effects and is more effective than bisphosphonates.
Living with Osteoporosis
As well as eating well, exercise can help strengthen your bones. Sensible options include fast walking, climbing stairs, step aerobics, racquet sports, and dancing. As you get older, falls become a real danger and if you have low bone mass, a fall could cause a severe injury such as a broken or fractured hip. Make sure your home is safe by removing clutter from your stairs and walkways. Place non-slip mats in the bathroom and use an adhesive to ensure rugs stay firmly on the ground.
How Does CBD Help With Osteoporosis & Bone Health?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a significant role in maintaining the health of our bones. While the stresses of daily life take their toll on our bones, the ECS facilitates the bone remodeling process. According to a 2011 article published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, fatty acid amides (FAAs), interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors and improve the bone remodeling process.
There is an enzyme called FAAH that breaks down bone, but studies have shown that CBD blocks this harmful enzyme and enables FAAs to flourish. It appears as if marijuana is effective because several of its compounds help maintain bone strength.
A prime example is cannabigerol (CBG) which is non-psychoactive and could be used to treat osteoporosis. Even THC potentially holds value in the battle against brittle bones. The CB1 receptors in the body are found in various areas including the bones.
CBD & Osteoporosis – The Research
A fascinating 2009 study looked at the link between the CB1 receptor and the development of age-related osteoporosis. It found that mice with no CB1 receptors developed excessively thick bones but still suffered from osteoporosis. Further examination of bone density in these mice revealed that they had large fatty deposits inside the bone instead of bone marrow.
A 2015 study looked at the impact of CBD on the healing of fractures. It looked at rats, and over the course of eight weeks, the study determined that CBD markedly increased the maximal load and work-to-failure rates of the rats when the compound was injected into their femurs.
Why Choose CBD For Osteoporosis & Bone Health?
While there is no ‘cure’ for osteoporosis, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help you slow down the rate of bone loss. We would advise you to think twice about taking a course of biphosphonates because they carry a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
The link between the ECS and bone mass & strength is clear. There is an increasing range of studies that show CBD works as a treatment to mitigate the damage caused by osteoporosis. The fact is, our bodies produce cannabinoids naturally and they have a tendency to bind to cell receptors and regulate their function. While CBD works indirectly with the CB2 receptor, in particular, it mimics the actions of the cannabinoids our bodies produce. The result is a treatment that gives you strong and healthy bones with no side effects.
Final Thoughts on CBD, Osteoporosis & Bone Health
Unfortunately, there is no way to defeat the aging process, but we don’t have to accept the deleterious effects that Father Time has on our bodies. We may not be able to reverse osteoporosis, yet we can slow down its steady march by consuming CBD. It is available in various forms including oils, vape juice, edibles and even balms. It works fast and doesn’t get you high.
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