Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disease that is characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density which can lead to an increased risk of fracture. In osteoporosis, the bone mineral density (BMD) is reduced, bone microarchitecture deteriorates, and the amount and variety of proteins in bone are altered. Osteoporosis is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a bone mineral density of 2.5 standard deviations or more below the mean peak bone mass (average of young, healthy adults) as measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; the term “established osteoporosis” includes the presence of a fragility fracture. The disease may be classified as primary type 1, primary type 2, or secondary. The form of osteoporosis most common in women after menopause is referred to as primary type 1 or postmenopausal osteoporosis, which is attributable to the decrease in estrogen production after menopause. Primary type 2 osteoporosis or senile osteoporosis occurs after age 75 and is seen in both females and males at a ratio of 2:1. Secondary osteoporosis may arise at any age and affect men and women equally; this form results from chronic predisposing medical problems or disease, or prolonged use of medications such as glucocorticoids, when the disease is called steroid- or glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis.
The risk of osteoporosis fractures can be reduced with lifestyle changes and in those with previous osteoporosis related fractures, medications. Lifestyle change includes diet, exercise, and preventing falls. A review by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found insufficient evidence to recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent fractures. Bisphosphonates are useful in those with previous fractures from osteoporosis but are of minimal benefit in those who have osteoporosis but no previous fractures. Osteoporosis is a component of the frailty syndrome.
Medical Marijuana Efficacy
In 2009, a group of researchers from the University of Edinburgh (UK) published a study in the journal Cell Metabolism that sheds light on the mechanism underlying treatment. It suggests that activation of the CB1 receptor is primarily responsible for the benefits of cannabis in the case of osteoporosis.
The University of Edinburgh research team investigated whether the endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a role in the condition. They used two groups of mice as models, one of which included rodents with no CB1 receptors.
According to their results, mice that were absent of CB1 receptors suffered from age-related osteoporosis, despite an increase in bone mass. The same group experienced a reduction in bone formation as well as increased fat accumulation in the “bone marrow space.”
Offering his take is the lead author of the study: Ayman Idris, Ph. D, “the CB1 receptor is therefore unique in that it regulates peak bone mass through an effect on osteoclast activity, but protects against age-related bone loss by regulating adipocyte and osteoblast differentiation of bone marrow stromal cells.”
Official Research Reports
Cannabinoids and the skeleton: from marijuana to reversal of bone loss (Bab I, Zimmer A, Melamed E, 2009)
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