Researchers from Penn State University have made promising discoveries regarding the potential use of two cannabis compounds, cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG), in the management of pain and the acceleration of bone fracture healing. Each year, over 178 million people worldwide suffer from bone fractures, and current pain management methods, primarily nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), have limitations.
According to Reyad Elbarbary, an associate professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at Penn State College of Medicine and the study’s corresponding author, while NSAIDs effectively manage pain, they hinder the crucial initial step in fracture healing, which is inflammation. As a result, there is a need for an alternative pain management approach that does not inhibit inflammation.
Penn State researchers initially aimed to assess the individual pain-relief properties of CBD and CBG in mice, marking the first study to examine cannabinoids in the context of fracture healing and pain management. CBD and CBG were found to be as effective as NSAIDs in pain management and had a positive impact on the fracture healing process. The researchers used advanced techniques to examine various aspects of fracture healing, including bone density, strength, and the expression of genes critical for fracture healing.
In the early treatment phase, CBD and CBG were linked to increased periosteal bone progenitors, which develop into specialized bone cells essential for bone tissue formation. During the later stages of healing, CBD and CBG accelerated the body’s mineral absorption, reinforcing newly formed bone.
The future research agenda will focus on defining the cellular and molecular processes responsible for the cannabinoids’ roles in both early and late fracture healing stages. Additionally, efforts will be directed toward developing a clinical formulation suitable for adult fracture patients. While CBD has FDA approval for treating seizures in children, finding the right formulation or dosage for adult bone fracture patients will be a critical next step.
The study has been published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
It’s important to note that using CBD and CBG is not the same as smoking marijuana. CBD and CBG are non-psychoactive, meaning they don’t produce the “high” associated with smoking marijuana. They are also less likely to cause side effects compared to smoking marijuana, and they are available in various forms, including oils, capsules, edibles, and topicals. In many jurisdictions, CBD and CBG products are legal, while smoked marijuana remains illegal in many places.