Cannabis & the Urinary System
The urinary system, also known as the renal system, consists of the organs that remove liquid waste from our bodies.
The urinary system, also known as the renal system, consists of the organs that remove liquid waste from our bodies. The system also produces a hormone that regulates blood pressure and another hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells. While little research has delved into the subject of cannabis’s effects on this system, there have been a few discoveries that clue us in to possible medicinal uses it can have for some patients.
The process of removing liquid waste begins with the kidneys, where one to two quarts of urine is produced in one day as the kidneys filter the equivalent of 30 to 38 gallons of blood. The urine travels to the bladder for storage. Once full, the bladder sends a signal to the brain that it’s ready to expel the liquid waste. As the detrusor muscle surrounding the bladder contracts, relieving it of the urine contained within, the internal and external sphincters, muscles of the urethra, must relax.
Individuals suffering from urinary incontinence, such as multiple sclerosis patients or those with neurogenic detrusor overactivity, found 25% improvement in controlling their urges to urinate after consuming cannabis. More studies are needed to find out why this is, but it’s believed that both THC and the cannabinoid named cannabigerol, or CBG, play a role in reducing acetylcholine-induced contractions of the bladder.
A questionnaire devised by Kaiser Permanente found a correlation between cannabis consumers and a 45% decrease in bladder cancer risk. Further investigation is needed to confirm whether cannabis plays an important role in preventing this cancer, but both anecdotal evidence and several current studies have found cannabis to be useful in combating many types of cancer and its symptoms.
Animal studies have discovered that inflammatory bladder disease may be treatable by cannabis. Cannabidiol, or CBD, helps reduce inflammation by enhancing or inhibiting the binding action of specific G-protein receptors. A G-protein receptor acts as the messenger between the inside of a cell and its environmental stimulus, sending signals inside the cell to either start or stop an activity. Such receptors exist in the bladder, and cannabis can help stop the body’s natural process of inflammation when a reaction inhibits us.
Currently, there’s no evidence to suggest that cannabis negatively impacts the function of the kidneys or bladder, meaning future studies will steer towards observing its medicinal effects on the urinary system by treating disorders associated with it. The best way to keep this system healthy is to simply to stay on top of your fluid intake and avoid drinking beverages high in sugar, caffeine, or alcohol.