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CBD for Osteoporosis: Can Hemp Oil Help Reverse Bone Loss?
Exciting new research has been exploring CBD’s powerful ability to speed fracture healing and preserve bone density.
Learn how it works and how to use CBD products for osteoporosis effectively.
Estimates suggest more than 200 million people have osteoporosis around the world .
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is responsible for a staggering 8.9 million bone fractures annually — meaning there’s an osteoporotic fracture roughly every three seconds .
Often referred to as a “silent disease,” many people don’t realize they have the condition until a fracture occurs.
Here, we will discuss osteoporosis, current treatment options, and scientific research on how CBD can help.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
Updated on June 05, 2021
Table of Contents
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How Does CBD Help With Osteoporosis?
CBD (cannabidiol) is the primary non-psychoactive compound in cannabis. It’s been shown to support bone metabolism indirectly through its effects on the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is a complex network of receptors that work to regulate various aspects of our health — including the formation and degeneration of bone . Through this system, CBD is thought to help reduce bone loss and promote the regeneration of lost bone tissue.
CBD should always be used in combination with other therapies for maximum benefit. CBD is not a cure for osteoporosis, but can offer a powerful supportive role when used alongside other medications, supplements, and exercises.
The benefits of CBD oil for osteoporosis may include:
- May improve the density of bones
- Alleviates pain & inflammation
- Supports hormone balance
- Relieves pain from bone fractures
1. CBD May Improve Bone Density
Research has discovered that CBD appears to enhance the growth and strengthening of bones through accelerated osteoblast formation.
Researchers believe that osteoclasts — the cells that breakdown bone — have a cell receptor that, when activated, speeds up bone loss and degeneration. This receptor is known as GPR55. CBD has been shown to specifically block the activation of this receptor, reducing osteoclast activity .
Further, in a recent study in Israel, mice were given CBD or a combination of THC and CBD. The study found that the administration of CBD alone has significant effects on fracture healing with increased bone strength and toughness by stimulating Lysyl Hydroxylase — an enzyme involved in bone healing .
This research has given us a deeper insight into how CBD influences the body and opens up some exciting potential for further research.
2. CBD Alleviates Pain & Inflammation
CBD may have a therapeutic role in inflammation and healing. It has long been used by people with chronic pain and offers a non-habit-forming alternative to pain medications.
Many patients have reported replacing their prescription pain medications with CBD, with evidence that its use can help in the treatment of headaches, mental health disorders, insomnia, arthritis, and other chronic pain syndromes .
What’s The Dose of CBD Oil For Osteoporosis?
The key is to start low and go slow.
As yet, there are no standardized dosing guidelines for CBD use. CBD oil can come in many different strengths. As products vary greatly, it’s important to read the label of the specific product you are using.
When it comes to managing osteoporosis, the benefits will take several months before any change is noticed. We recommend starting with a moderate dosage (based on your weight using our CBD oil calculator below).
If you experience side-effects (more on this later), reduce the dose until they disappear.
CBD Oil Dosage Calculator
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Is CBD Oil Safe?
CBD is safe, even at high doses — but there are a few exceptions to be aware of.
According to the WHO, CBD oil, in its pure state, does not cause harm or have the potential for abuse — even at high doses .
If you’re using any prescription medications, or have underlying health issues, you should always speak with your doctor before taking CBD. Certain medications may interact with CBD and lead to side-effects.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis means “porous bones.” It results in fragile bones. The weakness of the bones puts those affected at a higher risk of fractures.
As the bones become thinner, even a minor fall or bump can cause a serious injury.
Middle-aged women are at the highest risk — however, men are also affected.
The main concern most people have when talking about osteoporosis is the high risk of bone fracture. A fracture is a complete or partial break in a bone.
It’s estimated that 50% of women and 20% of men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime .
With osteoporosis, the most common bones affected are the hip, wrists, and spine. Fractures and breaks can lead to chronic pain and mobility issues.
Understanding the Definitions
- Cortical bone — the hard outside layer of all bones and makes up most of your skull and ribs.
- Spongy bone — occurs inside the vertebrae and the ends of the long bones, such as the thigh bones.
- Osteoblasts — specialized cells involved in producing new bones.
- Osteoclasts — specialized cells involved in breaking down bones.
- Bone density — the amount of mineral content in a bone.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
There are no specific symptoms of osteoporosis — the first sign is usually a bone fracture. There are other symptoms, but these can be difficult to identify.
Other signs and symptoms may include:
- Back pain
- Collapsed or fractured vertebra
- Loss of height
- Stooped posture
- Lowered grip strength
Menopause & Osteoporosis
In osteoporosis, there is a thinning of the cortical bone and reduced bone density and structure in the spongy bone. Menopause is one of the main causes of the condition.
Bone tissue is continuously broken down and replenished. It’s a regular cycle, fluctuating on both a daily and monthly basis — affected by things such as time of day, diet, and season.
Specialist cells within the bones called osteoblasts and osteoclasts are essential for these fluctuations in healthy bones. From birth to adolescence, more bone is formed than broken down.
By the end of adolescence, bone growth has completed. By your mid to late 20s, peak bone mass has been achieved.
The sex hormones estrogen and testosterone have a major role in maintaining healthy bones in both men and women.
In menopause, as estrogen levels drop, the balance of hormones that were working to control bone density begins to fall apart. The result is an acceleration in bone loss. Women can lose up to 10% of their total bone mass within the first five years of menopause.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Previous bone fractures
- Age — people over 50 are at the highest risk
- Early menopause — before the age of 45
- Weight — being overweight is a major risk factor
- Vitamin D — important in the maintenance of bone tissue
- Calcium intake — calcium is a key mineral in bone architecture
- Lack of exercise — weight-bearing exercises directly lower the risk of osteoporosis
- Smoking (linked with osteoporosis)
- Alcohol intake — over three standard drinks per day increases the risk of osteoporosis 
- Medications — such as corticosteroid use
- Medical conditions — such as thyroid problems, celiac disease, chronic liver disease, kidney disease, or rheumatoid arthritis
- Conditions that affect the absorption of nutrients — such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and other inflammatory bowel conditions
If osteoporosis is suspected, your doctor will most likely send you for a bone density scan.
This scan is used to measure bone mineral density (BMD). It is usually performed using a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). This is a non-invasive process where, for 10 to 15 minutes, a machine passes over your body while you lie flat on a table.
The bone density scan will give you a T-Score and Z-Score, used to determine your risk of developing a fracture and whether further tests are needed.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), your T-Score is classed as follows:
- -1.0 or above is normal bone density.
- Between -1.0 and -2.5 means you have low bone density or osteopenia.
- -2.5 or below is a diagnosis of osteoporosis.
The following procedures can also be performed to determine bone injury or fractures as a result of osteoporosis:
1. Bone X-Ray
Bone x-rays produce images of bones that aid in the diagnosis of fractured bones, which are sometimes a result of osteoporosis.
2. CT Scan
CT scans of the spine are used to assess alignment and fractures. They can be used to measure bone density and determine whether vertebral fractures are likely to occur.
3. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI of the spine is used to evaluate vertebral fractures for evidence of underlying diseases, such as cancer, and to assess the newness of the fracture.
How is Osteoporosis Treated?
Depending on how severe your osteoporosis is and your risk of bone fracture, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to strengthen your bones.
Lifestyle changes can help to ensure both men and women take steps to prevent the risk of developing osteoporosis.
1. Lifestyle & Diet Changes
- Incorporate a varied diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
- Avoid smoking
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Limit caffeine
- Do regular weight-bearing and strength-training activities
- Ensure adequate vitamin D and calcium intake
However, if your osteoporosis is more advanced, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough to help you strengthen your bones.
Prescription medications are standard care in the treatment of established osteoporosis. Their purpose is to either increase the formation of new bone or slow down the breakdown process.
However, they each come with their own set of side-effects and risks.
2. Bisphosphonate Medications
Bisphosphonates encourage bone density by slowing the breakdown of cells. You can take them with a combination of vitamin D and calcium supplements.
Side-Effects of Bisphosphonates:
3. Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs)
SERMs mimic estrogen in the body, reducing bone loss and increasing bone formation.
Side-Effects of SERMs:
This is given via an injection under the skin twice a year. It slows down the breakdown of bone, resulting in higher bone mineral density and reduced fractures. It is often used as an alternative to bisphosphonates.
Side-Effects of Denosumab:
5. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Doctors prescribe HRT for women during menopause when there is a drop in estrogen levels, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. However, HRT is no longer routinely recommended due to the increased risks with long-term use.
Side-Effects of HRT:
6. Testosterone Therapy
When testosterone levels are low in men, doses of testosterone are given by injection to improve bone density.
Side-Effects of Testosterone Therapy:
- Acne and oily skin
- Worsening of sleep apnea
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Increased risk of prostate abnormalities
- Enlarged breasts in men
- Decreased testicular tissue
- Increased aggression, mood swings
- Increased risk of heart disease and stroke (maybe)
Final Verdict: Using CBD for Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis can be a debilitating disease, and the fear of bone fracture can have a significant effect on one’s lifestyle and mobility.
While there is no cure, there is good evidence that CBD may be an effective treatment for osteoporosis by slowing down the progression of the disease and relieving pain.
These are very exciting times, especially as we look at CBD and the clinical research that’s still in its infancy regarding verifying its use in reducing bone loss and fracture.
Based on this information, CBD is seen as a safe, effective, all-natural therapeutic treatment for osteoporosis.
CBD Oil for Osteoporosis
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation 1 , this condition affects an estimated 75 million people in Europe, the United States, and Japan. It is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide – approximately one-tenth of women aged 60.
What is Osteoporosis?
Also known as “porous bones”, Osteoporosis causes bone loss. It’s the loss of tissues, thus resulting in fragile and brittle bones. This means that patients with Osteoporosis have poor bone health as these parts have a lowered density. This makes them especially prone to fractures or other injuries. In worse cases, this disease might deform the normal physical structures. Osteoporosis can trigger issues such as spine deformities.
Symptoms & Causes for Osteoporosis
There are typically not many symptoms in the early stages of Osteoporosis. Once your bones have been weakened by the bone loss, you may have signs and symptoms that include:
- Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
- Loss of height over time
- A stooped posture
- Bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected
Women are more likely to develop Osteoporosis. This is because they can quickly lose bone mass in the first couple of years after menopause.
Other risk factors could include:
- Overactive adrenal glands
- Overactive thyroid
- Low level of sex hormones
- Using corticosteroids for a long time
- Medical issues like inflammatory or hormone-related conditions
- A lower BMI than average
- Heavy drinking and smoking
- Frequent use of medications which affect bone strength, bone density or hormone levels negatively
Why can CBD oil work for Treating Osteoporosis?
Over the past few decades, researchers have found out the presence of some cannabinoid receptors such as CB1 and CB2 in bone tissues. Indeed, these elements play an essential role in bone health.
CB2 is expressed predominantly in osteoclasts (bone-resorbing cells) and osteoblasts (bone-forming cells). This kind of cannabinoid receptor is necessary for the regulation of your bone metabolism. Physiologically, it is important to keep a balance between osteoclasts and osteoblasts as it would maintain optimum bone health. As people age, this balance would be impaired, and result in bone fractures or loss of bone density.
CB2 agonists like cannabidiol (CBD) could be used to modulate the functions of these receptors 2 . They can improve the activity and count of osteoblasts while inhibiting the expression of osteoblasts and the proliferation of osteoclasts. These elements can also stimulate the formation of Endocortical bones, suppress bone losses and maintain a normal mass of bone. CB1 receptors, on the other hand, can be activated to inhibit a chemical known as norepinephrine 3 .
This element might delay the formation of your bones and the bone density, adjust the rate of reabsorption and lead to some bone issues.
Recent studies have proven that the use of Cannabidiol (CBD) oil can have positive effects on these receptors, thus alleviating symptoms as well as slowing the progression of osteoporosis.
CBD oil is available in various forms and concentrations, including liquid or thick paste, oil, capsules, gum or candy, salves, sprays or drops, and vapor.
What are the Benefits of Using CBD oil for Osteoporosis?
Over the years, studies have shown that CBD oil and other CBD products have 2 distinct benefits in osteoporosis treatments. Firstly, it would negatively modulate CB2 and CB1 receptors, thus reducing their capability of binding to agonists, a compound which activates them 4 . This is often called the entourage effect, meaning that using CBD oil can help reduce the effects of other compounds that serve as the same cannabinoid receptors.
What’s more, CBD can inhibit several enzymes such as FAAH and increase the effects that they would exert on these cannabinoid receptors. As a result of these effects, researchers have suggested that CBD is effective and helpful in lowering the risks of bone problems and enhancing health.
The Endocannabinoid System & Bones
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) plays an essential role in the regulation of osteoclast and osteoblast activities 5 . This means if any problem happens in this area, it might lead to a number of conditions, including osteoporosis. There is also evidence to show your ECS might determine the development of a low bone mass 6 . Indeed, a lack of the endocannabinoid receptors in your brain has been linked to a higher turnover of bone.
Essentially, your body might keep “retiring” old bone cells without producing enough new ones for replacement. However, if these receptors could be stimulated with the help of cannabidiol (CBD), the bones are more likely to maintain its function even after many years.
In general, the ECS consists of cannabinoid receptors that are activated by several elements like CBD. The endocannabinoids are basically generated and degraded by a few types of enzymes, this giving this system a role in controlling some essential activities. Consequently, reduced numbers of endocannabinoid receptors are linked to the development of osteoporosis.
CBD oil dosage for Osteoporosis
As a rule of thumb, the dosage of CBD oil or for osteoporosis treatments can vary a lot depending on the level of intensity. It is advisable to start small and increase the CBD dosage gradually until you get the desired results. A standard dose of between 10mg and 100mg of CBD per day is recommended by the CBD experts Leinow and Birnbaum in thier book “CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis”.
The Step-up Method
An in-depth guide of how to dose your CBD has been given in the book CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis by Leinow and Birnbaum 7 . The authors have introduced their Step-Up Method, where they recommend different types of dosage according to weight and condition. To find out how to follow Leinow and Birnbaum’s guide, read our post on CBD dosage.
Is CBD good for Osteoporosis?
A study by French scientists has suggested that human bones come with a higher level of endocannabinoids and ligands than brain cells 8 . Also, a naturally generated cannabinoid in our body named Anandamide could have an effect on the bone tissues. Anandamide helps to bind to those CB2 receptors. They also pointed out that CBD can imitate Anandamide, thus positively affecting bone health in those people who suffer from osteoporosis.
Another study by Idris Al focused on the important part of cannabinoid receptors in treating osteoporosis 9 . The results suggested that CBD is likely to affect bone metabolism and ligands. Therefore, these products can be used for bone fractures and other issues as they may be applied to exploit the cannabinoid receptors for targeting anabolic therapy and anti-resorptive.
A published study in 2015 by researcher Kogan Niemand 10 has found that when mice were treated with CBD oil, the maximal loads on their bones significantly increased. Also, he discovered that using CBD could speed up the process of healing fractures or broken bones, as well as slow down the loss of bone density.
As reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), cannabidiol is considered safe and has only few side effects and only in rare cases.