Use of an anti-inflammatory compound found in cannabis significantly helps heal bone fractures, a study says.
The study, conducted on rats with mid-femoral fractures, found that administration of the non-psychotropic component cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) markedly enhanced the healing process of the femora after just eight weeks.
"We found CBD alone to be sufficiently effective in enhancing fracture healing," said one of the lead researchers Yankel Gabet from Tel Aviv University in Israel.
Cannabis, also known by the names marijuana and hashish -- was used as a go-to medical remedy by societies around the world for centuries. But the therapeutic use of marijuana was banned in most countries in the 1930s and '40s due to a growing awareness of the dangers of addiction.
The significant medical benefits of marijuana in alleviating symptoms of such diseases as Parkinson's, cancer, and multiple sclerosis have only recently been re-investigated.
In the new study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the researchers injected one group of rats with CBD alone and another with a combination of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component of cannabis.
After evaluating the administration of THC and CBD together in the rats, they found CBD alone provided the necessary therapeutic stimulus.
"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," Gabet said.
"After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future," he 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," Gabet said.
The findings could lead to use of cannabinoid drugs to combat osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases.