Article by Julia Veintrop, Cannabis Life Network
I knew something was seriously wrong the second I hit the pavement. I couldn’t properly move my right arm and there was this grinding sensation that I’ll never forget. Pain pulsated like bolts of lightning as damaged nerves screamed in outrage. For the first time in my life, I had broken a bone. I tripped and fell, landing on concrete. The result? A grade 5 fracture of my clavicle, torn ligaments, and a world of hurt.
Off work and in pain, all I could think about was how to get better as quickly as possible. I started looking into broken bones and was surprised to find a lot of research surrounding cannabis. THC and CBD have been found to play a highly active role in the healing process. From my experience to you, here is what you need to know about fractures, our body’s response to them, and how cannabis can help.
How bones heal
The first response to a fracture, and often the most visibly shocking, is bleeding, as blood is made in the bone marrow. It clots and collects, providing a quick fix to fill the new crack. The area becomes swollen and inflamed, triggering an immune system response. Our system then sends stem cells, bone marrow, and even more blood to spring into action. These cells work to produce soft cartilage or callus, ultimately bridging the gap. As the injury heals, soft callus cells are replaced with harder ones – then by the even harder bone tissue.
The entire process is easy to understand if you think about human development. Babies have softer bone tissue that hardens are they grow. Because of this, kids break bones fairly easily, but they also bounce back quickly.
Broken bones and smoking cigarettes
Cigarettes are horrible for healing bones and multiple studies have confirmed it. The problem is simple: nicotine. Broken bones need a lot of blood flow to transport what’s needed for repair. Nicotine has a constricting effect on our blood vessels, slowing down the entire process. Imagine your blood vessels are a highway and your cells are workers constructing on a deadline. When the highway narrows, they can’t get to work and production slows down. Plain and simple; and that’s before we start talking about how bad cigarettes are for you in general.
Unlike nicotine, cannabis dilates blood vessels, promoting blood flow – plus, it can do a lot more than that. Along with relieving pain, cannabis can accelerate the healing process. In the case of a pain flare-up, inhalation is the fastest acting. However, the bioavailability of the lungs is quite low compared to other parts of the body, and therefore inhaling cannabis is not the most efficient way to ingest your cannabinoids. Not to mention, rolling a joint is not always possible, and smoking it might make you cough, which depending on your injury, might cause you a fair bit of pain.
It’s a matter of weighing risks, and the best thing to do ultimately is to talk to your doctor. Every broken bone is different, so trust the professionals. Ask about it before you fire up a joint.
Along with relieving pain, cannabis can accelerate the healing process. Thanks to multiple studies, scientists agree that cannabinoids are good for bones, especially if you have a fracture. Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD has been shown to:
- speed up the healing time by promoting cartilage production
- increase volume and thickness by encouraging enzyme production
- regulate metabolism to preserve bone density
Eating cannabis is the way to go when you’ve broken something. Pain is regulated by our CB1 and CB2 receptors. It so happens that we have tons of them in our gut. Think of that pot cookie like a carrier – releasing medicine along your GI tract as you digest it. On top of that, those cannabinoids will enter your bloodstream to make their way to your central nervous system. From there, cannabis can help to lessen the severity of the pain signals being sent from the broken bone.
Applied topically, cannabis can lessen the intensity of the pain signals sent to the brain. When used in combination with edibles, it’s easy to saturate both our peripheral and central nervous systems. Pain relief and therapeutic effects can be surprisingly effective.
Falling through the cracks
Cannabis may be legal in Canada, sure, but it’s not exactly accessible for all. If you are a recreational user, you can find something any day of the week – though supply issues have been a problem. But for medical patients with permanent conditions, access is under fire. Full stop. To date, illicit medical dispensaries have been the only places supplying the wide variety needed to serve patients, with all types of conditions – but those same dispensaries have been the target of government raids over, and over again.