CBD for Osteoporosis & Bone Health [How It Works]
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), an estimated 44 million people aged 50+ have either osteoporosis or are at risk of developing the condition. This figure represents 55% of the 50+ population, and the number of people at risk is increasing rapidly.
Prescription medication is one of the treatment options given to osteoporosis patients. However, CBD, especially topicals, may ease some of the symptoms of this condition and help to improve bone health.
In this article, we’ll cover recent medical research and whether or not CBD can be used to mitigate symptoms for osteoporosis and help to increase bone health.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
The word osteoporosis means porous bones, and it occurs when the bones weaken over time, increasing the risk of fractures. Worldwide, osteoporosis causes 8.9 million fractures annually.
Osteoporosis can be caused by a number of things, including nutritional and hormonal factors. It’s also related to the normal breakdown of bone, which happens in every person. Human bones are broken down and repeatedly replaced throughout life in a process called bone remodeling. The loss of bone mass occurs when the bones’ breakdown happens at a faster rate than the replacement.
Eventually, the bones lose calcium faster than they can replace it, so the bones become less dense. In women, bone mass loss accelerates after menopause.
Certain medical conditions increase the likelihood of a bone breakdown. Such conditions include Cushing’s syndrome, overactive thyroid, and kidney disease.
While it is impossible to reverse the osteoporosis process completely, there are ways to slow down bone density loss. A change in lifestyle may be necessary. Often, those at risk need to increase the amount of calcium and vitamin D in their diet. They should also avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as possible.
Helpful food and drink choices include
- fatty fish
- leafy green vegetables
In addition to eating well, exercise can help strengthen the bones. Sensible options include fast walking, climbing stairs, step aerobics, racquet sports, and dancing.
Living with Osteoporosis
As people age, falls become a real danger. If they have low bone mass, a fall could cause a severe injury such as a broken or fractured hip.
At-risk individuals should ensure their home is safe by removing clutter from stairs and walkways to prevent falls. They should also place non-slip mats in the bathroom and use an adhesive to ensure rugs stay firmly on the ground.
Conventional Osteoporosis Treatments & Their Side Effects (Not CBD)
There is also an array of prescription drugs that may slow down the breakdown of bone mass. The bisphosphonates family of drugs is popular and includes Boniva, Zometa, and Actonel.
However, bisphosphonates do not have a high level of efficacy. This type of medication can also cause serious side effects such as esophageal ulcers, atypical femur fractures, skin rash, and low calcium in the blood. It may also cause bone, joint, and muscle pain. CBD may help to counter some of these effects.
How Does CBD Help With Osteoporosis & Bone Health?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a significant role in maintaining the health of the bones. While the stresses of daily life take their toll, 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.
CBD & Osteoporosis Research
A 2015 study looked at the impact of CBD on the healing of fractures. It looked at rats, and over eight weeks, the study determined that CBD may markedly increase the maximal load and work-to-failure rates of the rats when the compound was injected into their femurs.
Understanding how it helps…
Why Choose CBD For Osteoporosis & Bone Health?
While there is no cure for osteoporosis, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise can help to slow down the rate of bone loss. Prescription medicines are also a hallmark of therapy. However, they can come with a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
There is increasing evidence that the endocannabinoid system may play a role in bone remodeling related to osteoporosis. Whether CBD use has any effects on bone health in humans, though, is to be determined.
Final Thoughts on CBD, Osteoporosis & Bone Health
Unfortunately, there is no way to defeat the aging process. Although experts are not yet able to reverse osteoporosis, CBD may be able to play a role. It is available in various forms, including oils, vape juice, edibles, and even balms, and doesn’t have intoxicating or mind-altering effects.
For those with osteoporosis choosing to opt for CBD, cannabidiol topicals may be the best choice as they can be applied to a targeted area that might be tender or painful. CBD tinctures, on the other hand, are consumed sublingually and provide less of a targeted impact.
Understanding CBD (Cannabidiol) for Back Pain
Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a new and relatively understudied treatment for pain, including back pain. Studies suggest it may help relieve inflammation, which is often a factor in chronic back pain. 1
CBD is available in many forms; topical creams and gels have shown promising results for inflammation and neuropathy, which may make them a good option for back and neck pain. 2
CBD requires more research in order to prove and explain its effectiveness as well as to better understand potential side effects (especially long-term) and potential drug interactions.
What Is CBD?
CBD oil is derived from a plant called cannabis sativa. The plant has over 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, that have a range of effects, including anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) qualities.
The cannabis sativa plant has two main varieties that are grown for specific purposes:
- THC content. THC is the compound associated with the “high” feeling of marijuana use.
- Industrial (non-drug) uses. This form of the plant contains trace amounts of THC (less than .03%) and can be used to make paper, clothing, and some building material. This variation of the cannabis plant is called hemp.
While CBD is present in both varieties, many of the CBD products available to consumers are from the hemp plant. CBD does not come with the high or psychogenic effects of marijuana.
Ways CBD Treats Back Pain
Research indicates that CBD may reduce back pain by:
- Reducing inflammation 3
- Combating anxiety, often associated with long-lasting or chronic back pain 4
- Helping with sleep and improving overall state of relaxation 5
Some studies suggest that CBD can have an effect on how an individual perceives pain, but more robust research is needed. CBD is generally considered a full-body treatment, which means that it does not target back pain specifically—except in the case of topical products—but contributes to an overall feeling of relaxation and pain relief.
Advocates of CBD believe it can be used to treat a range of conditions in addition to back pain, such as anxiety-related disorders. 5
Potential Risks and Side Effects of CBD
Cannabidiol, even in high amounts, is generally safe. Side effects from CBD may include:
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
More severe side effects, while rare, include:
- Mental confusion
As with other natural products, there is potential for adverse reactions when taken with other medications, especially those that come with grapefruit warnings, such as certain blood thinners. These warnings indicate that certain medications should not be taken with products containing grapefruit.
CBD use prior to surgery
Before having surgery, all cannabis use, including CBD and marijuana, should be disclosed to the surgeon or anesthesiologist. A recent study suggests that cannabis use may have an effect on medications used to sedate patients. 6