Have questions about medical marijuana? Well…you’ve stopped by the right website because I have answers. Today’s question comes from Bryan of Moraga, CA. He writes…

Dr. Patel,

I recently broke my ankle while playing basketball, and I’ve been using medical marijuana to deal with the bone pain while it heals. I was wondering – does medical marijuana in anyway also help with the healing process?

Curious,
Bryan

 

Bryan asks a really great question. You may know that many people use medical marijuana for pain management. But you don’t really hear much about it in the context of bone healing. That’s because it was only recently discovered!

So, here’s the scoop. A group of researchers decided to see if THC and/or CBD would assist in the healing process of broken bones in rats. Unfortunately, that meant they had to intentionally break the rats’ legs. (Yikes!) The rats were then split into 3 groups: One group was injected with THC, another group was injected with CBD, and then the third group was injected with equal amounts of both THC and CBD.

(If you’re thinking, “CBD/THC…what the heck is she talking about?”, go back to this blog that explains the difference.)

Over a period of about 8 weeks, the researchers observed how the bones healed among the 3 groups. They found that the rats injected with CBD in the end healed with bones that were way stronger and tougher. The group exposed to only THC or to equal amounts of THC/CBD didn’t show the same strength or toughness.

In the end, they realized that the results had to do with collagen. Colla…what? You’ve probably heard of collagen in the context of skin, as in when collagen starts to break down in the skin, you get wrinkles. Well…there’s also collagen in bones. It seems that CBD actually helps to build up collagen in bones causing them to be really strong and tough. Pretty neat…huh?

So, to answer Bryan’s question, because this research was done on rats, it’s difficult to translate to humans. But, it certainly points us in a certain direction.

What have I seen in my practice? My patients with persistent bone pain from previously broken bones have reported back that medical marijuana helps them to better manage the pain. It allows them to return to activities, such as tennis and running, that once brought them a lot of joy. Most folks say this is because the pharmaceutical painkillers left them feeling too groggy or gave them that “hungover” feeling preventing them from participating in these activities. With medical marijuana they don’t have these adverse side effects (when used appropriately, of course).


Research Referenced:

  • J Bone Miner Res. 2015 Mar 19. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.2513.