As more states move away from prohibition of cannabis more questions are being asked about the effects cannabis has on the human body. Once thought as of a toxic substance, many have questioned what the repercussions are on the kidneys. A new study conducted by Dr. Murray Mittleman, professor of epidemiology at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School reveals there’s no link between marijuana use and kidney disease at least among younger people who use the drug in moderation.
The kidneys are the body’s natural blood filter.
Each kidney receives blood from the body at a rate of over one liter per minute. Every four to five minutes, the kidneys filter all the blood in the entire body. Blood is brought into the kidney by the renal artery, which branches into smaller and smaller vessels until they become tiny capillaries deep within the kidney.
Tiny blood capillaries intersect with tiny kidney tubules. This is where the blood is filtered, removing toxins while preserving the essential products the body needs. The fluid that carries waste out of the kidneys is turned into urine and sent to the bladder to be voided.
Kidney disease means your kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood the way they should. Symptoms include reduced urine output, swelling of the legs, ankles and feet, shortness of breath, drowsiness or fatigue, nausea, confusion, and chest pain or pressure. In Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), the damage happens slowly over a long period of time. About 14% of people have CKD.
According to the National Institute of Health findings, CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in numerous tissues within the body including the kidneys. Cannabinoids have demonstrated their effectiveness in helping treat symptoms associated with kidney disease including anorexia/cachexia, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and pruritis. Chronic pain is another common symptom associated with kidney disease, which can be treated with THC. It has been found that THC acts as an analgesic in addition to containing anti-emetic, anti-nausea, appetite stimulating, and muscle relaxant properties. Additionally, several clinical studies have discovered that sleep quality significantly improved in patients who consumed cannabinoids to treat chronic pain and intractable pruritis.
It is very true that controlling blood pressure is important in managing kidney disease. Increased pressure can be extremely damaging to already challenged capillaries and nephrons.
cannabis could prevent kidney damage while also relieving pain and other symptoms. Often nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to reduce the pain but result in harmful chemicals entering the bloodstream. This puts added stress onto the kidneys as the numerous non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Asprin, and Aleve contain substances that are actually toxic to the kidneys. The research performed to show that cannabis does not cause damage to the kidneys puts cannabis in the lead for a promising alternative to harmful anti-inflammatories and opioids. Although it has not been shown to cure kidney disease, it has been proven to be a safer compound to help relieve symptoms.
Overall, small improvements in kidney disease symptoms through the usage of THC and CBD could be clinically beneficial for patients who experience hard-to-treat symptoms. So far though, cannabis-based medicine for kidney disease, and specifically, CKD is being considered.
Managing blood sugars, avoiding obesity, quitting cigarettes and sticking to a regular exercise program are all recommended for those with kidney problems. Keeping track of medications and supplements to make sure they are safe for kidneys is important. But it appears that cannabinoids may also be allies.
There is much to learn about the endocannabinoid system and phytocannabinoids, and focused research on THCV and kidney disease may well lead to promising supportive therapies in renal disease.