The Research on CBD’s Potential Health Benefits
One of the first studies exploring the health benefits of cannabis was published in 1843 by John Clendinning . Clendinning presented 18 case studies where he treated patients with hemp. In the end, he found hemp had many therapeutic benefits like improving sleep and soothing anxiety.
Of course, Clendinning’s research wouldn’t be considered high quality by today’s standards. His study looked at a small sample, and he used a simple observational method. Yet, it does go to show that CBD has a rich medicinal history.
Since then, science has come a long way. And though modern research investigating CBD is still in its infancy, there are some interesting findings worth noting…
CBD Oil May Help Slow Bone Loss
A number of preclinical studies suggest the endocannabinoid system plays a role in bone metabolism. “Preclinical” means research that takes place before human trials to find out whether a treatment might be useful.
In other words, the evidence so far comes from cell culture studies and animal studies. If you’re a regular reader of the AlgaeCal blog, you’ll know that preclinical findings need to be taken with a grain of salt because they aren’t always applicable to humans.
That said, animal studies are useful because they can point us in the right direction. And some researchers think that when it comes to the endocannabinoid system, they’re pointing towards possible therapeutic strategies to deal with bone loss.
But how would this work?
Well, CB1 and CB2 receptors can both be found in your bone cells, including your osteoclasts (bone-clearing cells) and osteoblasts (bone-building cells). And GPR55 is expressed in your osteoclasts too.
Now, most studies on osteoporotic mice show that blocking CB1, CB2, and GPR55 receptors protects against bone loss. In other words, by blocking these channels, the mice in these studies increased their bone mass.
Researchers are hopeful they can harness this discovery to develop new anti-resorptive treatments. But this mechanism is problematic for several reasons…
As you may recall, CB1 and CB2 are also present on osteoblasts, your bone-building cells. So blocking these receptors may slow bone loss, but it also inhibits bone formation. And since it takes a lot longer to build bone than it does to break down bone, this will tip the balance in favor of bone loss over time.
That’s why researchers were most intrigued by the third cannabinoid receptor, GPR55.
A recent study showed that blocking this receptor in adult male mice reduced osteoclast activity and increased bone mass. Notably, the researchers found that blocking GPR55 didn’t interfere with bone formation. And of course, slowing bone loss without inhibiting bone building tips the balance in favor of increased bone density.
The researchers also found that cannabidiol (CBD) was effective at blocking this receptor. Remember the lock and key analogy? Well, CBD is like a “key” that deactivates GPR55. So based on this study, they concluded that CBD could be a tool to slow bone loss.
But once again, there’s a major issue with this conclusion… and with what blocking any of these receptors does!
Here’s the thing: slowing bone resorption may increase bone mass temporarily, but this strategy is inherently flawed.
There’s a reason your body breaks down bone. It’s getting rid of damaged or worn out bone to make way for new, strong bone. So, if you block this process, your bone density may increase… but really, you’re left with poorer and poorer quality bone that’s more prone to fracture in the long run!
Of course, it’s unlikely that taking CBD oil recreationally would have a major effect on your bones. However, it could be a problem if scientists leveraged this discovery to create a treatment for bone loss.
Because a treatment for bone loss targeting these receptors would likely just be another band-aid solution.
And slapping a band-aid on bone loss is not a good idea…
The best course of action is to address the root cause of the problem, and feed your body the nutrients it needs to build strong, new bone. In fact, three human clinical trials show that when you provide your body with 13 minerals and three vitamins, you can build brand new bone and reduce your risk of fracture!
CBD Oil Helps Relieve Pain
You may have heard stories of cancer patients using CBD to deal with pain. Or maybe you know someone first-hand who uses CBD oil to ease aching joints or to manage inflammatory bowel disease…
But is there research to back up this belief?
Well, a review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the use of cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain came to favorable conclusions. Researchers looked at several different cannabinoids, including CBD. They reported that in addition to having neuroprotective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD also works as an analgesic. (“Analgesic” simply means it relieves pain.)
They concluded that the use of cannabinoids to treat pain shows great promise.
Other studies investigating the use of CBD with THC in pain management have come to similar conclusions.
For example, in a review of medical cannabis in cancer pain management, researchers found that a combination of THC and CBD provided significant relief. But they cautioned that due to the limited number of studies and study subjects, more research is needed to determine how effective cannabis-based therapies really are.
In another study, researchers looked into whether an oromucosal spray containing THC and CBD helped patients with severe chronic pain. They looked at 800 patients and measured their pain at the end of 12-weeks based on nine-factors of symptom relief. In the end, they found that treatment with THC and CBD was effective at relieving chronic pain— especially neuropathic pain, which is caused by damage to the nervous system.
But since these studies looked at THC and CBD together, there’s no way of knowing whether the effects were due to one or the other cannabinoid.
As you can see, there are many limitations when it comes to the research on CBD and pain relief. So at this point, we can’t say anything definitive about the effectiveness of CBD for treating pain. And more quality research is needed to investigate this usage.