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cbd oil and kidney disease

Cbd oil and kidney disease

According to research conducted by the American Kidney Fund, roughly 10% of the American public are believed to suffer from chronic kidney disease.


Kidney disease is a severe disease so any potential treatment options should be discussed with a medical doctor. This condition can quickly lead to serious consequences.

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One of the main advantages of using CBD over other pain medications is that it doesn’t cause any additional damage to the kidneys.

Evidence to support the use of nonsynthetic cannabinoids for CINV is less established: nonsynthetic cannabinoids in CINV were studied in only 3 small RCTs (n < 20) in the form of Sativex ® oromucosal spray and inhaled marijuana 67 -69 (level of evidence 2b). Compared with placebo, Sativex ® oromucosal spray achieved greater complete antiemetic response in 16 patients refractory to standard antiemetic prophylaxis (corticosteroids, 5-HT3 receptor antagonists, metoclopramide) while receiving moderate emetogenic chemotherapy regimens (OR = 3.22, 95% CI = 0.01-0.75). 70 Two older, small RCTs combined preparations of nonsynthetic oral THC followed by inhaled THC if vomiting persisted and found that THC was effective as an antiemetic for low emetogenic chemotherapy regimens, but not for chemotherapy of high emetogenic potential 68,69 (level of evidence 2b). In the study with high emetogenic chemotherapy, THC plasma concentrations achieved were low and the authors attributed this to inadequate inhalation of THC by inexperienced patients. Studies also demonstrated that inhaled cannabis achieved better therapeutic plasma concentrations of THC than the oral route and a linear relationship existed between increasing THC plasma concentration and antiemetic effect. Incidences of nausea and vomiting were 44%, 21%, and 6% with concentrations of <5.0 ng/mL, 5.0 to 10.0 ng/mL, and >10 ng/mL, respectively. Similar to previous studies, the rate of adverse drug reaction (ADR) was high: 80% of patients experienced sedation in the study with low emetogenic chemotherapy. Evidence to support the use of nonsynthetic cannabinoids in CINV is significantly limited by small study sizes and low doses of THC used (1.95%).

In the cardiovascular system, there is a dose-dependent relationship between cannabis consumption and mortality after a MI with a hazard ratio of 4.2 for weekly consumption (level of evidence 1b). 100 Metabolically, chronic cannabis users have a higher proportion of abdominal fat and demonstrated higher adipocyte resistance to insulin and lower oral glucose tolerance (level of evidence 2b). 99 Given the burden of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in the renal failure population, these effects may be magnified although this has not been determined. The THC in cannabis has been associated with dose-dependent transient rises in heart rate and a modest rise in supine blood pressure, 101,102 but a clear association with hypertension has not been established. Episodes of orthostatic hypotension and syncopal episodes have also been reported with smoked cannabis particularly with high doses (level of evidence 2b-), 103 which may preclude its use in CKD patients with symptomatic orthostatic hypotension secondary to diabetic autonomic neuropathy. However, following 1 to 2 days of repeated exposure, tolerance develops and chronic cannabis use has been associated with reduced heart rate and resolution of orthostatic hypotension. 103

Unapproved for human consumption, synthetic cannabinoids in the form of designer drugs such as “K2” and “Spice” are analogs of THC, but with greater potency and binding affinity to CB1 receptors. Although the term synthetic cannabinoids is frequently used to refer to these designer drugs, they are unregulated drugs of abuse and are distinctively different from pharmaceutical synthetic cannabinoids such as dronabinol and nabilone. These designer drugs are frequently dissolved in a solvent, sprayed onto dried plant material, and either smoked or vaped and have been linked to acute kidney injury. In a case series of 9 men, one required dialysis with all surviving. 105 A similar cluster has been also reported with 5 of 16 previously young healthy patients requiring hemodialysis, and in most cases, renal biopsies have demonstrated acute tubular necrosis. 104 It is unclear whether reports of AKI associated with smoked synthetic cannabinoids is due to a prior unrecognized toxicity, the effects of contaminants or known nephrotoxin, or a specific synthetic cannabinoid compound in the market. It should be emphasized that cannabis itself has not been shown to be associated with a loss of kidney function. In a large observational study of US veterans (n = 6788) with advanced CKD and progression to dialysis, those who tested positive for cannabis use within the year of dialysis initiation did not experience a more rapid loss in kidney function compared with those who did not use cannabis. 106

Table 1.

The adverse effect of marijuana can be described in 3 general themes: behavioral, respiratory, and effects in other body systems. With respect to adverse effects in patients with ESRD, cognitive impairment is of concern for home dialysis patients and those driving to a dialysis center. Also concerning is the association of an increased mortality post-myocardial infarction (MI), and respiratory complications, as described below.

Following legalization in Canada, softening of social attitudes and reduced stigmatism toward cannabis use is expected to garner increased interest in medical cannabis, especially for chronic refractory symptoms and palliative conditions such as those observed in patients with CKD. With expanded cannabis access through licensed retailers and self-grown plants, self-medicating of cannabis will also become inevitable among some patients with suboptimal symptom control. To minimize the risk of adverse drug effects and potential for substance abuse, it is paramount that clinicians are able to provide evidence-based guidance and education to patients to make well-informed decisions. However, our understanding of the effects of cannabis on patients with CKD and its role in symptom management remains limited. In this article, we aim to review the benefits and risks of cannabis use in this population and, where available, establish evidence-based indications of cannabis for CKD-related symptom management.


The incidence of sleep disorders is greater in patients with ESRD compared with the general population, with insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep-disordered breathing, and excessive daytime sleepiness being the most frequently reported. 85 Research in cannabinoid for treatment of insomnia began in the 1970s, but has excluded patients with renal impairment.

Approximately two thirds of predialysis patients with CKD stages 3 to 5 are afflicted with chronic pain, and among them, 48% report their pain as severe. 50 Although opioids are frequently prescribed in patients with CKD, concerns for increased risk of adverse drug effects, physical dependency, and addiction have been raised. Moreover, neuropathic pain in patients with diabetic CKD is often less responsive to opioids than visceral and somatic pain, and treatment options with anticonvulsant and antidepressant agents can be limited. In marijuana-legalized states in the United States, observational studies have not only shown a significant decline in annual opioid doses prescribed per physician through Medicare, but also a 24.8% reduction in annual opioid overdose mortality rate. 51,52 Amid a surge in opioid-related deaths in Canada and the United States, patients afflicted with chronic pain are anticipated to increasingly pursue cannabinoids as a means of curbing opioid use and opioid-related morbidity and mortality.