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Cannabinoids are bioactive compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant – the source of hemp and marijuana. Evidence suggests they help treat addiction, prevent seizures in certain seizure disorders, and reduce inflammation. A new study in mice shows that cannabinoids relieve pain as effectively as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) while also promoting bone fracture healing.

Researchers studied the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) on bone healing in mice that had experienced a fractured tibia (a lower leg bone). They injected the mice with cannabinoids (CBD or CBG) or NSAIDs (indomethacin or celecoxib) daily for four weeks and assessed the animals' pain throughout the study duration. At the end of the study, they examined the animals' tibias to assess healing.

They found that CBD and CBG helped manage pain in mice with bone fractures as effectively as NSAIDs. However, the cannabinoids also promoted fracture healing. In the early healing stage, they increased the number of periosteal bone progenitors (cells that later help form bone tissue). In the later healing phase, the cannabinoids accelerated the absorption of minerals to strengthen the new bone, making it functionally healthy.

These findings indicate that cannabinoids CBD and CBG may be useful alternatives to NSAIDs in an animal model of bone fracture. As their name suggests, NSAIDs block inflammation, an important early step in bone healing. Taking NSAIDs increases a person’s risk for many complications, including gastrointestinal bleeding and cardiovascular events, such as stroke or heart attack. NSAIDs also block some of the beneficial effects of exercise. Learn more in this episode featuring Dr. Charles Raison.

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