Marijuana/Cannabis may protect against osteoporosis

Scientists investigating the effects of cannabis on bone health have found that its impact varies dramatically with age.

The study has found that although cannabis could reduce bone strength in young people, it may protect against osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones, in later life.

The team at the University of Edinburgh has shown that a molecule found naturally in the body, which can be activated by cannabis - called the type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1) - is key to the development of osteoporosis.

It is known that when CB1 comes into contact with cannabis it has an impact on bone regeneration, but until now it was not clear whether the drug had a positive or negative effect.

Researchers, funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign, investigated this by studying mice that lacked the CB1 receptor. The scientists then used compounds - similar to those in cannabis - that activated the CB1 receptor. They found that compounds increased the rate at which bone tissue was destroyed in the young.

The study also showed, however, that the same compounds decreased bone loss in older mice and prevented the accumulation of fat in the bones, which is known to occur in humans with osteoporosis. The results are published in Cell Metabolism.

Osteoporosis affects up to 30 per cent of women and 12 per cent of men at some point in life.

Stuart Ralston, the Arthritis Research Campaign Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Edinburgh, who led the study, said: "This is an exciting step forward, but we must recognise that these are early results and more tests are needed on the effects of cannabis in humans to determine how the effects differ with age in people.

"We plan to conduct further trials soon and hope the results will help to deliver new treatments that will be of value in the fight against osteoporosis."


  1. Robbie Salmon Robbie Salmon Canada says:

    I am 28 years old and have smoked marijuana on an almost day to day basis since I was 15, four days ago I was diagnosed with osteoporosis with levels ranging from -2 to -2.6 . I am curious to know if marijuana smoking is the result of my osteoporosis or could possibly help prevent it from getting worse. I would very much indeed like to be part of your ongoing studies in the future. thank you for your time, it is greatly appreciated.

    Rob Salmon

  2. Carol Foxworthy Carol Foxworthy United States says:

    I am 62 and have used cannabis almost daily for 40 years.  All three of my sisters, my mother and grandmother suffer from osteoporosis and other degenerative bone loss.  I am the only one that has not developed these crippling conditions.  My mother and sisters are visibly effected by the curving spine.  I can't help but believe that my cannabis use has either slowed down or prevented any bone loss in my case.  I would be happy to be a part of your ongoing studies.   I have also noticed that as I age, my brain is processing information quicker than I had thought it would.  The cannabis has the opposite affect on me.  On Cannabis, I seem to speed up instead of slowing down.
    Thank you,

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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