Kidney Stones and Medical Cannabis
Kidney stones (also known as renal calculi or urolithiasis) are masses of minerals and salt that form in your kidneys. They sometimes originate in the ureters, bladder, and urethra, reports Healthline. Kidney stones are known for being incredibly painful for many sufferers. There are several treatments for kidney stones, including medications, tunnel surgery, and lithotripsy, which uses sound waves to break up calcium masses, all of which are “tailored according to the type of stone,” reports Healthline.
Many patients suffering from kidney stones have reported that medical cannabis eases their pain and nausea. A 2017 study from the American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology details exactly how medical cannabis can ease kidney diseases, including stones. “The two different types of receptors (CB1 and CB2) that are activated by the pharmacologically active ingredients of cannabis are found in numerous tissues, including the kidneys,” according to the medical journal.
Furthermore, “experimental studies suggest that stimulation of these receptors using pharmacologic agents or their naturally occurring ligands could have both deleterious and beneficial effects on the kidneys, depending on receptor distribution, type of renal insult, or the timing of the activation during acute or chronic states of kidney injury.”
Causes, Symptoms & Treatment of Kidney Stones
When crystal-forming agents, including calcium, oxalate, and uric acid are not diluted enough in the urine, kidney stones develop, reports the Mayo Clinic. There are four types of kidney stones: calcium, struvite, uric acid, and cystine. As noted, passing kidney stones brings on severe pain, especially in the side and in the back (below the ribs).
Common symptoms of kidney stones include pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and groin, a burning sensation while urinating, fever and chills, nausea, and vomiting. Some risk factors for the condition include family history, dehydration, obesity, and underlying medical conditions. Treatment for kidney stones varies greatly. Smaller kidney stones may be treated by drinking water and taking pain relievers, while more surgery is sometimes needed to remove more severe kidney stones.
Can Cannabinoids Treat Kidney Stones?
A 2009 report out of the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics explored if a cannabinoid could treat toxicity in the kidneys experienced by patients on cisplatin chemotherapy. The researchers found that cannabidiol was associated with reduction in inflammation, reduced cell death in the kidneys, and improved renal function in mice. The authors conclude that, “our results suggest that the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid CBD may be of significant therapeutic benefits against the renal complications of cisplatin chemotherapy by attenuating oxidative/nitrosative stress and cell death.”
Some medical cannabis users report using the plant to treat the pain, nausea, and vomiting caused by kidney stones. Some patients prefer to use medical cannabis in the place of opioid medications prescribed for the severe pain associated with kidney stones.