Brain and Body

Researchers Find Cannabis Compound Helps Heal Broken Bones

September 3, 2015 | Reece Alvarez

People sit on a sidewalk in front of a sign reading "Marijuana is Medicine."
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According to a recent study in Israel, a specific, non-psychoactive compound in cannabis has the ability to speed the healing of broken bones and make them stronger once healed.

Published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research by Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Hebrew University, the study has added bone-healing abilities to the growing list of medical applications for cannabis.

"The clinical potential of cannabinoid-related compounds is simply undeniable at this point," said Dr. Yankel Gabet, of the Bone Research Laboratory at the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology at TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

Known as marijuana, Mary Jane, Maui wowie and a host of other of colorful nicknames, usage of the plant has been traced back thousands of years across various ancient civilizations.

Only in the 20th century did cannabis become vilified for its potential for abuse, which resulted in an era of prohibition that has just begun to give way to an increased awareness of the plant’s medicinal value.

According to the announcement from TAU, by injecting mice with the cannabinoid “cannabidiol” (CBD), a non-psychotropic component of cannabis that doesn’t cause the “high” feeling cannabis is notorious for, researchers discovered the healing process for large fractured bones like the femur was “markedly enhanced” after just eight weeks.

The study, which was jointly led by the late Professor Itai Bab of Hebrew University's Bone Laboratory, found that the healing properties of cannabis were most effective when CBD was separated from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the major psychoactive component of cannabis that produces euphoria.

“We found that CBD alone makes bones stronger during healing, enhancing the maturation of the collagenous matrix, which provides the basis for new mineralization of bone tissue," said Dr. Gabet. "After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future."

Learn more about CBD in this video:


The researchers honed in on CBD’s bone-healing properties by injecting one group of rats with CBD and another with a combination of CBD and THC. After evaluating the rats researchers found the ones injected with CBD alone healed better, according to the announcement.

While the experiment was conducted on mice, the human body is built to respond to cannabis as well, Dr. Gabet said.

In earlier research, the same team discovered that cannabinoid receptors within our bodies stimulated bone formation and inhibited bone loss.

"We only respond to cannabis because we are built with intrinsic compounds and receptors that can also be activated by compounds in the cannabis plant," he said.

Certain strains of medical cannabis are grown specifically for their high percentages of CBD and low percentages of THC. (credit: Coaster4210/Wikimedia)

According to the announcement, the study paves the way for future research into the use of cannabinoid drugs to combat osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases without the psychedelic side effects.

"While there is still a lot of work to be done to develop appropriate therapies, it is clear that it is possible to detach a clinical therapy objective from the psychoactivity of cannabis. CBD, the principal agent in our study, is primarily anti-inflammatory and has no psychoactivity," Dr. Gabet said. “Other studies have also shown CBD to be a safe agent, which leads us to believe we should continue this line of study in clinical trials to assess its usefulness in improving human fracture healing."


Based on a press release from Tel Aviv University. No Bones About It: Cannabis May Be Used to Treat Fractures.

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