Marijuana And Osteoporosis

A degenerative skeletal disease characterized by a deterioration of bone tissue, osteoporosis, affects approximately 10 million Americans over age 50 and put another 34 million at risk for developing the disease, according to the US Surgeon General’s office.

Initial references regarding the potential use of cannabis for protecting against the onset of osteoporosis are available in the scientific literature beginning in the early 1990s.

Investigators at the Bone Laboratory of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, writing in the January 2006 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reported that the administration of the synthetic cannabinoid agonist HU-308 slowed down the development of osteoporosis, stimulated bone building, and reduced bone loss in animals. A follow-up research published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 2007 reported that the activation of the CB2 cannabinoid receptor reduced experimentally-induced bone loss and stimulated bone formation.

It is now speculated by scientists that the main physiologic involvement of specific endocannabinoid receptors (CB2 receptors) is for maintaining “bone remodeling at balance, thus protecting the skeleton against age-related bone loss,” leading some experts to believe that cannabinoids may be “a promising target novel target for anti-osteoporotic drug development.”

[1] Vratislav Schrieber. 1995. Endocrinology 1994-1995. Casopis Lekaru Ceskych (Czech Republic) 134: 535-536.
[2] Ofek et al. 2006. Peripheral cannabinoid receptor, CB2, regulates bone mass. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103: 696-701.
[3] Itia Bab. 2007. Regulation of Skeletal Remodeling by the Endocannabinoid System. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1116: 414-422.
[4] Ofek et al. 2006. op. cit.
[5] Bab et al. 2009. Cannabinoids and the skeleton: from marijuana to reversal of bone loss. Annals of Medicine 41: 560-567.
[6] Itia Bab. 2007. op. cit.