It’s the popular study making the rounds on the Internet. Break a bone? Light up and pass it around to your other clumsy friends. Marijuana can help mend bone fractures? Instantly Bill Maher’s ears perk up with interest. Marijuana? I’ll be honest. Mine did too…
But, there’s always a bit of context to everything. Yeah, I know. Everything doesn’t fit in a damn Facebook post or a tweet. The study everyone is having fun with is in the latest issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
A team at Tel Aviv University conducted a small pilot study on rats and concluded cannabidiol (CBD) may help broken bones heal faster and stronger. What’s cannabidiol? It’s the non-psychotropic component of marijuana (cannabis) that is liquefied.
The part of the plant that isn’t going to get you high. Your bone is still broken, and you don’t get a buzz. Hmmm, I’m not sure I like that part researchers.
And a key part of the study was that it was conducted in rats, not humans. Lead author, Yankel Gambet, Ph.D., is quick to point out the research team isn’t sure how CBD’s mechanism works to heal fractures in rats, or if it would even work in humans.
“The main limitation is that this is the very first study on the matter and results have been obtained in animals only,” Gabet said.
Said another way, we have jumped on a story and conflated it beyond the bounds of what was intended. It doesn’t help the cause of pro-legalization. Let the research get there. Save the click bait headlines for another day.
Marijuana and Bone Fractures
The study included Gabet and his team breaking the femurs of rats. In the first experiment, each group of rats received either THC, CBD or an ethanol/emulphor/saline (control) solution. Each rat was then monitored over the course of eight weeks to see how each responded to the marijuana-derived treatment as compared to the control.
A second experiment involved a mix of THC and CBD, THC alone and CBD alone. In a third, researchers measured how both compounds affected the collagen that prompts collagen crosslinking in the healing of fractured bones.
At the end of the eight weeks, the team euthanized the rats and removed the broken femurs. Each was studied after being coated with formalin, dehydrating the bones and rehydrating.
At issue with the study was each group had five to twelve rats. That’s not nearly enough to remove the possibility formalin contributed to some of the collagen crosslinking attributed to CBD.
It does not mean the study isn’t useful. The research shows incredible promise. It just needs to ramp up in the lab and then on to human trials. We are talking years.
Is it great to get excited about the promise of CBD and medical marijuana? Absolutely. But, don’t get ahead of everything and start with the ‘hey, smoke a joint when you snap your leg.’ Let these men and women work.
It does the medical marijuana no favors when everyone jumps aboard the hype train. Legalization is coming. That train has left the station. Now, we need to let the research scientists work and see what they can unlock from the cannabis plant.