One more research paper has just been published that shows how plant based substances can help to contain the brittle bone condition, osteoporosis. Scientists at the Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK have discovered how a non-psychoactive substance in cannabis, cannabidiol helps to sustain bone strength.
The endocannabinoid system is a group of cell receptors that are turned on by a group of endogenous lipids and also compounds derived from the cannabis flower. The cannabinoid receptors are involved in a number of physiological processes including appetite control, pain, memory and mood. Current research has shown that the endocannabinoid program also has a strong influence on bone tissue metabolism, as the receptors are well displayed on osteoclasts – cells whose principal function is to resorb (thin out) bone.
Bone is an active, living tissue that is being continuously formed, remodeled and shaped in response to both physical and physiological needs of the body. Bone matrix consists primarily of the macronutrients calcium, magnesium and phosphate and is the material that makes up both the dense parts of the bone and the bone marrow framework.
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Many people still believe that if one eats foods rich in these types of minerals then they will avoid building osteoporosis. Epidemiological and other evidence suggests that this is not necessarily the case.
When it comes to bone health and disease the integrated processes that control the formation plus resorption bone are just as essential as the availability of calcium, magnesium and phosphate.
The formation and resorbtion of bone matrix is controlled by two main cell varieties:
1) Osteoblasts are bone tissues that are responsible for the formation associated with bone matrix
2) Osteoclasts are modified white blood cells accountable for the resorption of bone tissues.
These two cell types are managed by a complex set of signaling bodily hormones, proteins and cell receptors that will respond to the ever-changing demands on bone tissue and other physiological processes. If there are too many osteoclasts, or even if these cells become overactive, they will resorb more matrix compared to osteoblasts can produce. A predominance of osteoclast activity results in the bone becoming less dense – the key characteristic of the clinical condition known as osteoporosis.
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The Aberdeen researchers have discovered that cannabidiol binds to a particular cannabinoid receptor on the bone-resorbing osteoblast cells. By so doing it inhibits these cells from resorbing the bone matrix – thereby helping to prevent further weakening of the bone tissues.
This is not the first time that plant substances have been shown to influence bone metabolic process in favour of stronger bones. In The month of january 2009 researchers at Oklahoma Condition University in the USA found that, even in the presence of oxidative stress and systemic inflammation, polyphenols derived from plums inhibit the action of the bone-softening osteoclasts but enhance the generation and process of bone-building osteoblasts.
For those who hope that smoking pot will help to strengthen their particular bones, they do so in vain. Although wild cannabis contains up to 40% cannabidiol, cultivated varieties include very little of this compound. The important stage arising from this research, in my opinion, is it shows how vital plant compounds are in the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis. There are bound to be many other phytonutrients in other food plant life that have a positive influence on bone tissue metabolism – they just have not been “discovered” yet.
While we all wait for that research to be performed, it is important to eat (not smoke) an array of vegetables, fruit and spices to make sure an adequate intake of a host associated with beneficial phytonutrients.