Learn | 06.21.2023

Can Smoking Weed Cause Kidney Stones?

Is cannabis a potential ally in the treatment of kidney stones? Or does it cause them?

Here’s something your healthcare provider might not be telling you. Turns out, patients experiencing kidney stones might find much-needed relief in using cannabis.

The scientific evidence is still insufficient, but from anecdotal reports of patients who have used it, there seem to be strong indications that cannabis can be helpful in some cases.

We are not talking about a magical cure for kidney stones; that’s not how the world works. But we know cannabis and its healing properties can greatly help kidney stones. As for whether they may cause kidney stones, we’ll touch on that too.

Read on for everything you need to know about the relationship between cannabis and kidney stones. Is cannabis a yay or nay?

Marijuana & Kidneys: How They Interact

We know that cannabis can help with pain, the main symptom of kidney stones. This makes it a great help in symptom management, especially for small stones that are expected to be passed naturally.

Now, getting into a scientific mode: in renal dysfunction, there are alterations in the endocannabinoid system activity. Many researchers have suggested that modulation of the endocannabinoid system could treat kidney disease and kidney injury.

Specifically, researchers found that the significant receptors of the endocannabinoid system, CB1, and CB2, are present in various cells in the kidney. Both their activation and inhibition can significantly alter kidney function, sometimes benefiting or harming the kidneys.

As with cannabis in general, there is not much research on the use of particulate CBD for kidney stones, but there is evidence that it can help with the pain. This is due to the entourage effect that is generated by combining THC and CBD, potentiating the effects of each and getting even greater benefits than if they were used separately.

CBD can also help on its own. Studies suggest that CBD when interacting with our endocannabinoid system, can reduce pain signals and our perception of pain. CBD is safe, non-addictive, and with no known negative side effects. It’s a great alternative to cannabis without the psychoactive effects.

What Can Cause Kidney Stones?

There are a few causes of kidney stones, which are all very manageable. By being proactive and living a healthy lifestyle, you can avoid the risk factors associated with kidney stones and even more serious conditions like chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Below, we’ve listed some of the most common causes of kidney stones:

  • Dehydration
  • Eating food that’s excessive in sodium and sugar
  • Rigorous exercise or not enough exercise
  • Genetics
  • Obesity
  • Certain surgeries

Passing a kidney stone is one of the most painful things a human can experience. You’re quite literally peeing out stones that were formed in the kidney as a result of the causes above.

This happens when urine becomes overly concentrated, be it from too much salt, sugar, dehydration, etc. When this happens, compounds like calcium and uric acid that are normally dissolved in urine can become too concentrated. Later, they crystalize, forming small stones that are either passed naturally or removed via surgery.

These are the most common symptoms associated with kidney stones:

  • Excruciating pain in the back, side, and abdomen
  • Fever
  • Sharp pain in the abdomen and groin
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Fluctuating pain that comes and goes

If you’re a frequent cannabis user, you might be wondering about the relationship between weed and kidney stones. Can cannabis help or hinder them? Let’s find out.

Link Between Marijuana And Kidney Stones

There isn’t much of a link between cannabis and kidney stones. However, there’s one clear fact that we must point out.

One of the main causes of kidney stones is having a diet that’s too high in sodium. Not to say that every cannabis user is eating foods with too much sodium, but almost every cannabis user experiences the munchies.

For this reason, being mindful of what you munch on could drastically reduce your risk of developing kidney stones by limiting foods that are high in sodium. That’s about one of the only links between cannabis and kidney stones.

Plenty of research suggests that cannabis might actually help kidney stones rather than cause them. Healthy individuals don’t have to worry about the effects of cannabis use on their kidneys, as there aren’t many drawbacks or risks involved.

However, individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD) should ask their doctor or healthcare provider if using cannabis is safe for their specific situation.

Marijuana May Help In The Treatment Of Kidney Stones

There are several symptoms present when dealing with kidney stones, the most common of which are severe pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and blood in the urine.

Marijuana is known to be an effective aid in the treatment of pain, nausea, and vomiting, with medical research backing it up and thousands of anecdotal reports attesting to these healing qualities.

Kidney stone pain is excruciating. Even after passing kidney stones, there may still be residual pain that lingers until you feel back to normal. Although no research has been done on kidney stone pain, in particular, there is plenty of data to suggest that cannabis is helpful in relieving pain.

It’s worth noting that, traditionally, cannabis is not a recommended treatment for kidney stones. However, medical marijuana patients may seek cannabis to relieve the pain from kidney stones.

That’s because cannabis not only has pain-relieving properties but also anti-inflammatory properties, meaning it could potentially reduce inflammation in areas that are inflamed due to kidney stones.

Consuming Marijuana As A Kidney Stones Patient

If you’re a rather healthy individual and this is your first time getting kidney stones, cannabis may be a great help in treating symptoms like pain and nausea.

On the other hand, it’s vital that patients with chronic kidney disease seek help from a doctor or healthcare provider. Being honest with them about your interest in using cannabis to treat symptoms is essential. The takeaway is that everyone is different, and we all react to cannabis differently.

Asking your doctor, who knows your specific condition, whether cannabis is a good idea is highly recommended. It’s the only way to be certain that you’re not hindering your kidneys more than you should.

Even patients who have recurring kidney stones may want to ask their doctor if cannabis could help with their symptoms, as there could be an underlying issue that hasn’t been addressed. In most cases, kidney stone patients can consume cannabis without worrying about potential drawbacks.

Cannabis has incredibly pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, so it could be the medicine you needed all along.

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