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Cannabinoids are a group of chemicals derived from the marijuana plant (cannabis sativa). Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of these compounds and studies have suggested that it has anti inflammatory properties to treat animals with nervous system problems. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another one of these compounds that wields a psychoactive effect in animals. Cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) are found in the endocannabinoid system and allow cannabinoids to bind and do their job in the body. This paper will look at cannabis’ potential in reducing the rate of bone loss.
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Cannabinoids may regulate bone formation
The active component of cannabis, THC, triggers the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors and mimics the effects of naturally occurring cannabinoids. The CB1 receptor is mainly found in the brain and controls the cannabinoids psychotropic effects. The CB2 receptor thrives in peripheral tissues, mainly in conditions such as multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis. Of known, there are 2 types of endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, that have been found in bone at ‘brain’ levels. The CB1 receptor is present mainly in skeletal nerves and this means that it has a role to play in regulating the bone structure. The CB2 receptor is expressed in osteoblasts and osteoclasts, advances bone formation, and promotes bone resorption. CB2 receptors in mice have been seen to have an involvement in maintaining bone remodelling balance. It was then seen that by targeting the CB2 receptor with an agonist, bone size can be regulated. Preclinical studies in humans have displayed that a synthetic CB2-specific agonist treats ovariectomy-induced bone loss. This study suggests that cannabinoid receptors in mice and humans can hold the answers for osteoporosis and how medical marijuana can fight bone diseases.
Endocannabinoid system: a target to combat osteoporosis?
Current knowledge in mice and humans points at the influence the endocannabinoid system has in the regulation of brittle bone loss and then the problems on bone mass and biomechanical function. Although the CB1 receptor has been discovered in skeletal nerves, its job in mediating bone regulation remains to be unknown. The CB2 receptor seems to thrive in bone cells. This study also suggests that the CB2 gene is valuable in understanding the risk factors of osteoporosis. Overall, studies have shown cannabinoid receptors in mice and humans suggest advances of diagnostic measures to identify osteoporosis and how cannabinoid drugs can be used in the treatment for osteoporosis, and therefore maintain bone health.