Alternative kidney disease symptom relief methods, such as cannabis, are increasing in demand with ongoing medical legalizations & research.

Nephrology research shows CBD doesn’t negatively impact kidney function. However, CBD can increase the toxic side effects of certain kidney medications. Research is scarce on how CBD functions in those with impaired kidneys. Other research shows cannabis doesn’t increase the progression of CKD.

Due to the current limited guidelines surrounding CBD use for kidneys, we’ve gathered all of the available data to help you quickly make a decision.

CBD For Kidney Health

Published in the journal of Canadian Journal Of Kidney Health And Disease, patients looking for alternatives to symptom management of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) are challenging and in high demand.

With the lack of research involving cannabinoids and CKD, attempting to utilize cannabinoids are recommended to be reserved for patients with stubborn or unmanageable issues with conventional therapies. 

If the benefits outweigh the known risks, cannabinoids may play an impactful role in patients who have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

Current evidence shows CBD and other cannabinoids may be utilized in support of chronic neuropathic pain and topical CBD cream for itching related issues from ESRD.

Is CBD Oil Harmful To Your Kidneys

According to board certified nephrologist, Joshua Rein, DO, taking whole cannabis can be challenging to predict due to numerous different cannabinoids and components.

Current evidence shows CBD has no negative effects on kidney function.

However, research is scarce on the movement of cannabinoids throughout the body of those with impaired kidney function.

Most of the cannabinoids that enter the body are filtered out of the body by the liver, with minimal excretion from the kidneys.

In the only published study on CBD and kidneys showed no difference between participants with renal failure and those with normal function. 

Statistical measurements in this study showed no difference in maximum plasma concentration of CBD, to max concentration, and more.

Some lower quality CBD products on the market might contain other toxins, heavy metals, solvents, etc, that can cause detrimental effects.

Other precaution recommendations involve potential drug interactions between CBD and certain medications.

Before deciding to take CBD regularly, it’s best to consult with your primary healthcare provider.

Finally, synthetic cannabinoids may be toxic, damaging, and destructive to the kidneys.

Is CBD Safe For Kidney Transplant Patients

Published in the peer reviewed medical journal Xenobiotica, CBD can cause an increase of Cyclosporine in the bloodstream.

Due to CBD potentially affecting the metabolism of the anti kidney rejection drug Cyclosporine, the increased levels of Cyclosporine in the bloodstream can also increase its toxic effects. 

One study revealed low doses of CBD didn’t change the levels of the organ rejection prevention drug Tacrolimus

Since CB2 receptors are located throughout immune cells, cannabinoids such as CBD can have certain effects on kidney transplant recipients. 

The effects cannabinoids may have on kidney transplant recipients are immunomodulatory, which is the balancing adjustment regulator of the immune system.

From studying the National Kidney Transplant Database, researchers observed those who’ve chronically taken cannabis the year before a transplant didn’t have graft failure or death the year after the kidney transplant.

Those receiving a kidney from a cannabis user showed similar results as those receiving a kidney from a non cannabis user.

Meaning, the rejection rates, graft, and survival of the patient receiving a kidney from a cannabis user was similar to receiving a kidney from a non cannabis user.

Published in the journal of Clinical Transplant, with each transplant center having different policies surrounding the use of cannabis in both donors and recipients, several potentially valid concerns might exist.

Concerns in taking cannabis with kidney transplant recipients and donors include:

  • Potential fungal complications from smoking moldy cannabis
  • Not adhering to immunosuppressive medications
  • Not following instructions
  • Not attending follow up appointments
  • Drug interactions
  • Unpredictable fluctuations of Calcineurin Inhibitor (CNI) levels — potential toxicity

Even though the American Society of Transplantation (AST) has differing policies surrounding the perceived risks of cannabis use, a clarity in policy regarding actually observed complications is necessary.

Each year, more states are legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational use, thus hightening the need for more research, standardized guidelines for both donors and recipients, and evidence-based studies.

CBD Safe For One Kidney

Research shows no evidence suggesting CBD has adverse effects on kidney function.

Due to the lack of specific research, some drugs may interact with CBD producing potential detrimental effects.

Before taking CBD, it’s best to speak with your primary healthcare provider to verify there’s no drug interactions or other potential adverse effects.

CBD Oil Side Effects On Kidneys

Since the research says CBD doesn’t appear to have any negative impact on normal kidney function, however, there are a few potential side effects.

CBD side effects include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Light-headedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

CBD oil can interact with certain medications and cause a potential increase of the side effects of the other drugs.

CBD Oil Effects On Kidney Disease

Nearly half of the 1.5+ million patients living with advanced CKD experience a handful of chronic symptoms.

Symptoms of patients with CKD include:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Anorexia
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite

CBD and other cannabinoids are reviewed in research to help restore normal function of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The role of the ECS is to regulate homeostasis to balance nearly all body functions.

Research continues showing chronic cannabis use in patients with impaired kidney function had an increased rate of Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) decline. 

The eGFR measurement tests the levels of kidney function to determine the stage of disease.

However, there were no observed changes in albuminuria from cannabis usage.

Albuminuria is a protein found in your blood. 

Healthy kidneys don’t allow the passage of the albuminuria from the blood to the urine. The less albuminuria in your urine, the better.

From the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Study, there was no evidence of cannabis use increasing the progression of CKD.

It’s recommended if you have CKD and you’re taking cannabis that your renal function be monitored closely.

Also recommended that you take the lowest effective dose of cannabis.