Many people don’t realize that bone is actually very much “living tissue”. However, osteoporosis can be a devastating condition precisely because of this fact.
You see, in osteoporosis, the pace of new bone creation falls behind the pace of old bone removal. However, it would appear as though there’s good reason for hope for those suffering from this terrible condition: CBD can help!
First off, it’s important to understand how osteoporosis works.
Osteoporosis represents a weakening of bone tissue and is normally associated with the aging process. However, it isn’t just age that causes the issue. It’s also things like poor nutrition, genetic changes, certain types of cancer, and even menopause.
To be sure, the condition is most common among women who are aging but is also found across other groups.
What Are Bones?
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Bones protect tissues and help us to maintain our uprightness as bipeds in the animal kingdom. This is actually quite remarkable and underscores both the importance and special nature of the human skeletal system as an organ.
However, the big key here is to understand that bones remain strong and dense through an accumulation of critical minerals. The most obvious and important of these are calcium and phosphorus.
Bones are also designed in certain special layers. As you might expect, the strongest and most powerful layer is the outer layer or the compact bone layer. Beneath that, there’s a soft layer which is spongy. That’s why they call it “spongy bone”. It is this interior layer where the osteoclasts and osteoblasts work at the removal and regeneration of the bone tissue.
This process is known as bone remodeling. By metaphor, it’s somewhat like plate tectonics and the earth. With the earth, new land is being formed all the time and comes up through many sources, as old land, or crust, is resorbed and melted back into the earth. Bones actually work in a relatively similar manner.
As one might expect, as individuals age, the spongy bone tissue becomes less and less efficient, which is why we often see bone breakdown in the elderly.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Simply put, osteoporosis is defined by inefficient bone remodeling. The osteoclasts break down the bone faster than the osteoblasts rebuild it. It’s not that complicated.
However, what is a bit more complicated is the role of hormones in this process. It turns out, testosterone and estrogen stimulate the activity of these important bone cells. And as individuals age, their sex hormones drop, and that affects the activity of these important bone cells in the bone remodeling process. The result: osteoporosis.
Other factors can increase the chances of this process taking place: a sedentary lifestyle, genetic factors, treatments for diseases like cancer as well as the cancer itself, and low calcium intake. All of these things can impact the level of the sex hormones, which then affects the bone remodeling efficiency.
As noted above, this is more common in women. In fact, osteoporosis impacts nearly 25% of all women 65 years of age or older.
As far as current treatment options, it varies by severity of one’s situation. Your choice at this point is basically between medications, hormone therapy, and lifestyle changes, and your doctor will generally advise which is necessary based on the likelihood of bone fracture.
The Role of CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
Most interesting for us here today is the following: the endocannabinoid system, it turns out, is in fact heavily involved in the bone remodeling process and in the activity of these key cells in the spongy bone layer.
As we have covered, the endocannabinoid system is actually a central regulatory network in the body, affecting many different systems and types of tissues. Because it is so heavily involved in so many different physiological processes, when it is not functioning correctly, it can lead to all sorts of problems, even including osteoporosis.
As we have covered in other sections, the key cannabinoids receptors play a strong role in how the endocannabinoid system works. And in this case, that means they play a key role in the operation of the osteoclasts and osteoblasts. The most important thing that can happen receptors can do is to reduce bone resorption.
In fact, research has been published to the US National Library of Medicine that shows that adult mice who do not possess cannabinoids receptors experienced faster bone loss than mice in a control sample.
CBD Provides New Hope
Now we come to the big question: Can CBD actually improve cases of osteoporosis?
According to a study conducted in Israel, CBD receptor expression promotes bone formation. While the connections between aspects examined in this study are very complicated, the results support the existing literature and suggest that the CB2 receptor expression is a strong factor in the development and severity of osteoporosis.
Critically, this suggests that therapies focused on this important regulatory system can have an impact on the outcome distribution faced by those suffering from this terrible condition.
While we don’t understand the precise mechanisms involved, the research at this point looks extremely promising, and suggests that those suffering from osteoporosis now, and those headed in that direction in the future, have reason to hold out hope that there is a new tool in their toolbox that may possibly be able to powerfully impact their fate with respect to this difficult and life-changing health issue.