According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), about 10.2 million Americans aged 50+ suffer from osteoporosis. Another 43 million have low bone mass. The NOF study also states that the number of Americans with either osteoporosis or low bone mass (which could lead to osteoporosis) will increase to over 71 million by 2030.
Those using prescription medications may have side effects from their treatments. CBD may help patients suffering from this disease find relief. CBD is one of the 100+ identified compounds in the marijuana plant. Find out how CBD may help osteoporosis sufferers.
What Is Osteoporosis?
It is a condition that causes the weakening of your bones as you get older. It makes your bones more fragile and susceptible to breaking and fracturing. Although losing bone mass is a normal part of the aging process, some people lose bone mass much faster than others. This places them at risk of osteoporosis.
Women are more likely to have osteoporosis. They often lose bone quickly in the first few years after menopause. Other risk factors include:
- Long-term use of corticosteroids.
- Medical issues such as hormone-related conditions or inflammatory conditions.
- A family history of the condition.
- A lower than average Body Mass Index (BMI).
- Heavy smoking and drinking.
- Long-term use of medications known to impact hormone levels or bone strength negatively.
One of the most common methods of diagnosing osteoporosis is through a DEXA scan. A DEXA scan measures your bone density. During this short scan, a medical doctor may compare your bone mineral density to that of a healthy young adult. The doctor will also compare your results to an individual who is the same age and gender as you.
The difference in the figures is calculated as Standard Deviation (SD) and is known as a T-Score:
- -1 SD or above means you are in no danger of getting osteoporosis.
- -1 and -2.5 means you’re at risk.
- -2.5 or below means you have osteoporosis.
Doctors use several treatments for those diagnosed with this disease. Bisphosphonates such as Actonel may slow the rate of bone loss. However, side effects of this medication may include irritation of the lining of the stomach and the esophagus. In some cases, patients end up with osteonecrosis of the jaw, which could cause lost teeth.
Forteo is another form of treatment. It is a daily injection that has a reported high efficacy rate. However, lab research has found that in higher doses, Forteo increases the risk of a certain bone cancer. Other side effects include vomiting and constipation.
CBD may help with many of these side effects. CBD also lacks a psychoactive profile and recent studies indicate that that it may make sufferers of the disease feel some relief.
Living with Osteoporosis
Globally, osteoporosis causes a fracture every three seconds. There are 1.5 million such fractures in the United States annually and they lead to over 500,000 hospitalizations and 2.6 million physician office visits along with 800,000 trips to the OR. Hip fractures account for 60% of hospitalizations due to osteoporosis and can completely inhibit mobility.
As well as increasing the likelihood of a severe fracture or breakage of bones every time you fall, osteoporosis takes a severe mental toll. Patients with osteoporosis experience height loss and cannot dress, stand up or walk by themselves. A bone fracture also has a negative effect on body image, self-esteem, and mood. The level of disability caused by osteoporosis is greater than that caused by virtually all cancers barring lung cancer.
Hip fractures account for almost 60% of osteoporosis-related hospitalizations in the United States. There is also an increased risk of death in the 12 months after the fracture. 20% of patients with hip fractures end up in a nursing home, a fate compared unfavorably to death by a majority of patients in one study.
The debilitating effects of osteoporosis are harmful and treatments can be expensive. Thankfully, the day has come where there is a more effective, less expensive, all-natural alternative to prescription pills and to date, reported side effects are minimal.
How Can CBD Help with Osteoporosis?
Medical research has discovered that humans have cannabinoid receptors in their bone cells. The most relevant of these receptors in health terms are CB1, CB2, and GPR 55. Further research has found that cannabinoid receptors are vital for regulating bone metabolism. The CB2 receptor is expressed in osteoclasts (also known as bone reabsorbing cells) and osteoblasts (also known as bone-forming cells). The balance between the two is critical to the process of optimal bone health maintenance.
Despite CB2’s importance, studies on animals deficient in the CB1 receptor showed that they have reduced bone formation and increased bone resorption. CB2-deficient animals show age-dependent low bone density along with bone loss and associated fractures.
CBD and Receptors
CBD is an ‘agonist’ of the CB1 and especially the CB2 receptors. An agonist is defined as a “substance which initiates a physiological response when combined with a receptor.” In any case, CB2 agonists like CBD are capable of modulating the functions of the receptors, increase osteoblast count and inhibiting osteoclast precursor proliferation. Due to these general properties, it may provide some support in bone formation and decrease in bone loss.
Science backs CBD
A study by Kogan et al. which was published in 2015, found that when rats were treated with CBD, the maximal load on the bones increased significantly. The team also found that CBD speeds up the process of fracture healing. A study by Bib and Zimmer, which was published in 2007, also showed that CBD excels when it comes to healing broken bones. Within eight weeks, the rodents in the study experienced faster healing in their femoral bone.
As this test involved a synthetic marijuana compound, we have to be wary of the results but it is still important because it is a preclinical study. It was conducted by Zimmer, Bib, and Melamed and published in 2009. In the study, the scientists found that CBD not only stopped bone loss, it also helped to prevent it.
Final Thoughts on CBD and Osteoporosis
The federally illegal status of marijuana makes accurate research difficult. We hope it gives scientists access to industrial hemp at the very least. Hemp contains large amounts of CBD and no THC, the most famous high-inducing compound of weed.
It is no exaggeration to say that osteoporosis can ruin your life. If you don’t succumb to fractures and broken bones, the harmful pharmaceuticals you take to prevent bone mass could do as much damage as the condition itself.
The body naturally produces cannabinoids. By introducing CBD and others, you could help your body fight back against bone loss and keep osteoporosis at bay for a lot longer. If you already have the condition, CBD could prevent further bone loss and perhaps help the body create more bone.
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