The endocannabinoid system plays a role in growing, preserving and strengthening bones. By interacting with other biochemical networks in our body such as the immune system, CB1, and CB2 receptors are also active against bone diseases. Unfortunately, we just started to understand how this mechanism works, and no standard therapies are available yet. Despite this, many patients have chosen alternative or integrative therapies with cannabinoids to treat their bones conditions, just like ancient Indians and Chinese used to do since a thousand years.


Research conducted over the past years on the cannabis plant’s compounds has found that cannabinoids can protect against bone diseases, arthritis, injuries and related pain. THC, CBD and other cannabinoids may even make bones stronger after a fracture. Symptoms of diseases like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis will possibly be mitigated with novel cannabis treatments.

A 2015 research found that cannabinoid receptors can trigger bone formation[1] and strengthen the tissues that connect broken bones. Researchers gave rats with broken bones either CBD or a combination of CBD and THC, finding that bones treated with CBD healed faster and with a strengthened fracture callus. This recent research followed some other indications about the endocannabinoid system facilitating bone metabolism and the subsequent replacement of old material with new bone tissues. This mechanism was discovered by research such as a 2009 study[2] which found that the CB1 cell receptor is involved in the development process of age-related osteoporosis. The cannabinoid system appears to regulate how much old bone material is broken down, how much fat is stored inside the bone, and how many new bone cells were allowed to born. Another 2009 study[3] found a connection between CB2 receptors and bone density in mice. This study reported as well that one of the roles of the CB2 receptors is to balance bone metabolism, thus slowing down age-related bone decay.


Talking about bone diseases, the first threat is Arthritis, which indicates any disorder that affects joints with pain, stiffness, swelling and reduced mobility. There is no cure both for osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease occurring with age, and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder. Other types of rheumatic diseases also have no effective therapies. Pain is a common symptom in all types of arthritis. Prescription painkillers can lead to tolerance, harmful side effects, and addiction while trying to manage arthritis pain. Many patients die because the suppressive action on the central nervous system caused by opiates. Cannabis-based products are now used by patients as a treatment for arthritis because they can reduce pain and swelling.

cannabinoid receptors osteoarthritis pain therapies cannabis CBD Scientific evidence from both lab research and human trials suggests that the whole cannabis compounds have therapeutic action in the treatment of these kinds of chronic pain. This 2014 study[4] continues the research on the role of the endocannabinoid system in the perception of pain in osteoarthritis conditions, while this 2016 research[5] indicates that topical CBD applications actually relief arthritis pains and inflammation without causing evident adverse effects.

We also have studies indicating that our nerves are full with cannabinoid receptors[6], and that peripheral CB1 receptors may be important targets in controlling osteoarthritis pain. The cannabinoid receptors are today targets for both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis pain treatments, as confirmed by this 2008 study[7]. This 2014 study[8] proves the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in modulating osteoarthritis pain. The CBD receptor CB2 also regulates pain responses in osteoarthritis of the knee joint, according to this 2013 research.[9]

From lab to pharmacy, GW Pharmaceuticals, the British company specialized in cannabinoids medicines, also demonstrated on clinical trials[10] that its cannabis-based patented compound Sativex showed a “significant analgesic effect in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, and caused a significant suppression of the disease activity”. GW Pharmaceuticals also holds a patent for the therapeutic use of CBG as a treatment for osteoporosis. CBG, or Cannabigerol, is not psychoactive and it is found in little quantities in cannabis plants. Its properties are currently being examined as bone-healing agents.

Science also started to consider CBD as a specific anti-arthritic substance, as this study[11] suggest. Another recent research[12] concludes that a CBD-derived synthetic cannabinoid might represent a potential novel drug for rheumatoid arthritis. The action of a CBD topical applications on rheumatoid arthritis is also analyzed in a 2016 research[13] on rats indicating an evident relief in arthritis pains and inflammation.


We recently wrote about how cannabis can reduce pain and inflammation from arthritis. Unfortunately, we also have to mention that a recent study[14] in the American Journal of Medicine has found that very frequent cannabis smokers are more likely to have lower body weight and broken bones. Within the participant pool of this study, 170 adults used cannabis for recreational purposes, while 114 were cigarette smokers who did not use cannabis. Heavy cannabis users showed a lower body weight and body mass index (BMI) than non-users, which might be good or bad. For sure bad is the fact that fractures seemed to be more common in heavy potheads compared to dumbass tobacco smokers. Scientists measured the bone density of the study participants, finding that heavy cannabis users had a reduction in bone mineral density. This causes a future risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

External Resources:
  1. CBD, a Major Non‐Psychotropic Cannabis Constituent Enhances Fracture Healing
  2. Cannabinoid receptor type 1 protects against age-related osteoporosis by regulating osteoblast and adipocyte differentiation in marrow stromal cells. - PubMed - NCBI
  3. Cannabinoids and the skeleton: from marijuana to reversal of bone loss. - PubMed - NCBI
  4. Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain. - PubMed - NCBI
  5. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. - PubMed - NCBI
  6. Cannabinoid‐mediated antinociception is enhanced in rat osteoarthritic knees
  7. Characterisation of the cannabinoid receptor system in synovial tissue and fluid in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. - PubMed - NCBI
  8. Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain. - PubMed - NCBI
  9. Cannabinoid CB2 receptors regulate central sensitization and pain responses associated with osteoarthritis of the knee joint. - PubMed - NCBI
  10. Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis | Rheumatology | Oxford Academic
  11. The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis | PNAS
  12. HU-444, a Novel, Potent Anti-Inflammatory, Nonpsychotropic Cannabinoid. - PubMed - NCBI
  13. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. - PubMed - NCBI
  14. Heavy Cannabis Use Is Associated With Low Bone Mineral Density and an Increased Risk of Fractures
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