Medical marijuana and the treatment of broken bones and fractures

Cannabis has shown time and time again to help with many different health conditions. New studies show that broken bones and fractures may be conditions that the herb can also help to heal.

It could be argued that cannabis is one of the most medicinal herbs in existence although this is quite a big statement. Sure, many herbs work wonders on specific conditions and have powerful mechanisms of action. Yet what makes cannabis special is the wide range of diseases, ailments, and symptoms it can effectively treat by interacting with the endocannabinoid system of the human body.

Emerging scientific research and anecdotal accounts are constantly testifying to the widening scope of ailments that marijuana can treat. Bone health may be another facet of human health that belongs to the list. Evidence exists that suggests certain cannabinoids produced by the plant may be effective at strengthening bones.


Bones can suffer breaks and fractures when they are exposed to extreme force and trauma. Such force may be generated by a fall, slip, or another type of impact. Typical examples within sports include rugby tackles and falling onto outstretched arms. Everyday examples include slipping on ice or taking a tumble down a staircase. Extreme impacts can result in a bone completely breaking and coming apart. Less severe cases may result in small cracks within the bone structure that are known as fractures.

Symptoms of broken bones usually involve a sound such as a loud click or pop upon impact. Swelling, bruising, and bleeding can occur in the area of trauma and usually it results in a loss of strength and mobility.

Initial treatment is necessary in order to reduce symptoms and decrease pain. Applying ice will help to reduce the inflammation and pain, and will work to induce vasoconstriction and push blood away from the site. Elevating the site of injury will also help to reduce blood flow to the area.

Bones can basically be left to heal over time and it usually takes a couple of weeks for bones to mend. The good news is that it seems as though some compounds within the cannabis plant may help to speed up the process.


Some research suggests that cannabis may enhance fracture healing, making the herb a good option for those seeking natural and safe medication after experiencing bone damage. However, before we get into this impressive characteristic of the cannabis plant, first let's acknowledge some research that many smokers may not want to hear.

The scope of this article is how cannabis can affect bone health, yet not all of it is good news.

A study performed at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, concluded that people who regularly smoke large amounts of cannabis actually have reduced bone density. This reduction may contribute to an increased risk of fractures. The study looked at a total of 170 subjects consisting of 114 non-cannabis users, with the rest being frequent users. The study associated heavy users with people who had indulged in cannabis over on 5000 occasions over the course of their lifetime.

Researchers used an x-ray technique known as a DEXA scan to observe the bone density of the subjects and found that the bone density of heavy cannabis users was about 5 percent less than subjects who smoked cigarettes but not cannabis. The heavy cannabis users were also found to have quite low BMI (body mass index) and body weight.

So, what does this mean for cannabis users? Well, according to the researcher, further investigation is required to understand this link more deeply, but this fact may put heavy users at greater risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.

Despite these findings, other evidence does seem to show that certain aspects of the cannabis plant may be beneficial when it comes to traumatic bone injuries.


The non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) is stepping up to the mark once again to display itself as a multi faceted medicinal powerhouse. The role of CBD during a traumatic bone fracture may work in more than one way. First of all, the cannabinoid has shown to possess properties that can combat both pain and inflammation, two factors highly associated with a fractured bone. Secondly, CBD has been shown to directly assist with the healing of bone tissues within laboratory settings.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel tested the cannabis derived compound on the broken bones of rats to determine its effectiveness. The study, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research showed CBD to be highly effective at helping fractured bones to heal.

The study consisted of 3 experiments overall. The first experiment used either just THC or CBD on the fractured femurs (thigh bones) of rats. The second experiment used a mixture composed of equal parts THC and CBD on a fracture callus. A callus is formed during fracture repair to help rebuild the bone. The third experiment tested the effects of THC and CBD on an osteoblast (cells that help to build bone) enzyme that catalysed bone healing.

Results showed very promising outcomes for CBD. In regards to experiment 1, after a period of 6-8 weeks, it was apparent that callus size increased in rats that were given CBD or THC in comparison to a control group. The researchers then concluded that THC and CBD had stimulated endocannabinoid receptors on bones cells and had increased the rate of bone repair and healing. It was noted that CBD significantly improved the strength of the bone after a period of 8 weeks.

The results of experiment 2 determined that after 8 weeks THC increased the stiffness of bones slightly more than CBD did. The results of experiment 3 showed that CBD increased levels of an enzyme involved in bone healing.


So there we have it, both cannabinoids THC and CBD do appear to have a positive effect on bone healing, although especially CBD did show significant improvement in bone strength.

Marijuana can be consumed in many ways. Of course, it is no news that some cannabis strains can be more helpful for pain relief than others. But there does not appear to be an exact science of how to approach a fractured bone with cannabinoids.

When it comes to CBD, there are many products available that are high quality and high potency. It does make sense that a high potency balm or topical product applied locally to the site of injury may be the most effective. This will also help against inflammation. Additionally, oils and capsules can be taken orally.