Joint relief: Marijuana helps mend broken bones
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Joint relief: Marijuana helps mend broken bones

Tel Aviv University scientists find cannabis speeds healing of fractures, may be used to treat bone-related diseases

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Marijuana. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)
Marijuana. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Break a bone? Your doctor may soon provide you with an unexpected prescription – marijuana.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have discovered that a component of marijuana “significantly helps heal bone fractures,” university officials announced Thursday.

The study, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, found that the non-psychotropic cannabidiol, or CBD, considerably sped up the healing process of rats’ broken leg bones. Those benefits were also present, even when the molecule was separated from THC, the major psychoactive component of cannabis.

Dr. Yankel Gabet of Tel Aviv’s Bone Research Laboratory and the late Prof. Itai Bab of Hebrew University’s Bone Laboratory discovered the connection between our bodies’ cannabinoid receptors and the stimulation of bone growth, which may be used for future research into the use of marijuana to treat not only broken bones but also osteoporosis and other skeletal diseases.

“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.”

To test which molecule is responsible for the enhanced bone growth, the researchers divided the test subjects and injected one group with just CBD and the other with both CBD and THC.

“We found CBD alone to be sufficiently effective in enhancing fracture healing,” Gabet said. “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.”

Not only does marijuana encourage the healing process, it also prevents future injury, researchers found. “After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future,” Gabet explained.

Medicinal marijuana is currently used to reduce some of the adverse effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients, improve the appetites of AIDS patients and generally as a treatment for chronic pain, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Recently, however, researchers have been investigating the use of medicinal cannabis as a treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis and some forms of cancer.

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