Osteoporosis has been closely linked to the aging process. As we age, our bones lose both mass and mineral content, weakening the bone structures. Over time, this can have serious consequences for our overall health and mobility. Osteoporosis prevention is a topic spurring interest in the medical research community. Among investigations into preventing this bone weakness, researchers have discovered that medical cannabis may offer certain benefits to those with osteoporosis. In this guide, we’ll take a look at how medical cannabis may represent an alternative therapy for elderly people struggling with osteoporosis.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, about 44 million adults aged 50 or over in the United States are affected with osteoporosis, making it a significant public health threat. Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone condition that weakens bone structures over time by reducing bones’ density and mineral composition. It is a normal part of the human aging process. Women are at a higher risk than men of developing the condition; changes in hormone levels in the aging process contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Other factors that influence the development and progression of the condition include:
As osteoporosis progresses, those affected may experience bone fractures, even from minor incidents like slip and fall injuries or traumatic impacts. For fractures in the hip bones or spinal column, osteoporosis can interfere with mobility, leaving those affected unable to lead normal lives.
In many ways, osteoporosis can be considered an inevitable outcome in the aging process. Osteoporosis prevention, however, can reduce the severity of the condition, helping older people lead healthy lifestyles for as long as possible.
Current medical interventions for those affected by osteoporosis include weight-bearing activities, helping to keep bones strong and healthy. A well-balanced diet high in vitamins C and D are also shown to slow the progression of osteoporosis. Certain medications may be prescribed to support bone formation and mineralization. Unfortunately, many of these medications are associated with unpleasant side effects like nausea, joint pain, swelling, and dizziness. Because of these side effects, medical researchers are keen to discover alternatives for osteoporosis prevention as well as osteoporosis treatment.
In several clinical studies, two chemical compounds from a class of chemicals known as cannabinoids were identified as being potentially beneficial in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. These two chemicals, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), interact with the human endocannabinoid system, which helps to regulate numerous body processes. CBD, in particular, demonstrated powerful effects, strengthening fracture areas in people with bone density losses. In one study, an endocannabinoid receptor known as CB2 was shown to regulate bone mass; CBD binds to these receptors and can influence bone density, potentially slowing the demineralization and loss of strength. CBD may also speed up the healing process.
Cannabinoids may also provide benefits beyond healing. In clinical studies, CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Both inflammation and pain are associated with osteoporosis, and current medications used for treating these symptoms may have dangerous or even fatal side effects. CBD, on the other hand, produces few, if any, unpleasant side effects, and as such represents a safer alternative to many prescription medications.
Further research is warranted into the effects of cannabis and its chemical compounds in osteoporosis treatment. While osteoporosis prevention is the goal of much of current medical research, this natural aging process may be slowed by cannabis use in moderation, particularly with cannabis preparations high in CBD. Medical researchers are hopeful that cannabis becomes a safe, effective alternative to traditional prescription treatments.