Living with interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome, feels like having a UTI that never goes away. For me, cannabis helps. CBD in Cannabis may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that may reduce the effect of UTI by lessening the swelling and pain. Learn more. CBD from cannabis is one of the most practical ways to deal with a chronic condition like IC, and it has been used medicinally for centuries.
Cannabis and chronic bladder pain
If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, or UTI, then you understand the pain of interstitial cystitis (IC), a bladder condition marked by urinary urgency, frequency and pelvic pain. But unlike a UTI, which can be cured with antibiotics, interstitial cystitis has no cure, and the millions of (mainly) women who suffer from it are, for the most part, left to deal with the condition on their own.
I know this because I’m one of those women, and my journey with IC, also known as painful bladder syndrome, has been a textbook case of mystery and misdiagnosis.
It started over a decade ago with a urinary tract infection that just wouldn’t go away. For nearly a year, I was in and out of walk-in-clinics and off-and-on antibiotics, but no matter how many prescriptions I downed, the pain, urgency and frequency always returned.
Mysteriously, every time my urine was tested for bacteria – the tell-tale sign of a UTI – it came back clean. Meanwhile, I was getting out of bed to pee constantly, sometimes 20 times a night.
Sometimes I go months without symptoms, and sometimes I find myself in a ‘flare’ that ends in the emergency room, with internal bleeding and swollen kidneys, but still no infection. Why?
No one’s really sure – not my family doctor, not my urologist, and not my rheumatologist, physiatrist, naturopath, physiotherapist, or the numerous other experts I’ve consulted for this, and potentially related conditions. That’s just how it is.
Interstitial cystitis is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning it’s only given after other potential causes – like a UTI, bladder cancer, kidney stones, endometriosis or a sexually transmitted infection – have been ruled out. There’s only one ‘clincher’, the presence of either glomerulations (superficial hemorrhages) or of Hunner’s ulcers (distinctive patches of inflammation) on the bladder wall. I have Hunner’s ulcers, but more than 90 per cent of diagnosed IC patients don’t express either of these so-called classic IC signs.
It’s also possible that IC is not one condition, but a related set of symptoms with a variety of causes. Researchers aren’t even sure what kind of condition it is, but they have a few guesses: the top contenders are that it’s a neurological condition, an autoimmune attack or a reaction to toxic substances or bacteria that haven’t been identified yet, or aren’t picked up by current tests.
What I do know is this: I’m not uncommon. The Interstitial Cystitis Association reports that three to eight million American women and one to four million American men may have IC. They don’t provide Canadian stats, we can guess that the numbers are similar here, affecting up to six per cent of women and almost one per cent of men.
Often IC patients experience other conditions concurrently, most commonly fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and food intolerances, celiac disease, chronic fatigue, lupus, pelvic floor dysfunction, vulvodynia and endometriosis.
Without knowing the exact cause of the condition, it’s hard for doctors to know how to treat it, and every patient responds uniquely to different methods. Classic therapies include dietary modifications, pelvic floor physiotherapy, bladder retraining, antihistamines, antidepressants, antispasmodics and analgesics. Some patients may opt to receive medications directly into the bladder via catheter.
For me, the best treatments so far have been strict dietary modifications and cannabis. The last was a bit of a surprise. I’ve always liked cannabis, and although getting high on weekends was a pleasant distraction from my pain, I never saw it as a practical way to deal with a chronic condition, mainly because I didn’t want to be high every day. It wasn’t until I started taking a regular dose of non-intoxicating CBD oil, which I’d been prescribed for another condition, that I experienced a wonderful side effect – my first extended remission from IC. That prescription helped so much, I switched careers – now I spend my days exploring why cannabis so many conditions, and sharing those stories here.
There are clinical explanations for my positive experience with cannabis, and researchers are just starting to tease them out. One promising finding shows that like other organs, the bladder walls are lined with cannabinoid receptors, the “locks” that allow cannabinoids, or the “keys” to turn.
Cannabis extracts have been shown to help multiple sclerosis patients suffering from incontinence, while more recent studies suggest that the endocannabinoid system – composed of the bodily receptors that process cannabinoids – “is implicated in many gastrointestinal and urinary physiological and pathophysiological processes, including epithelial cell growth, inflammation, analgesia, and motor function.”
The same study goes on to say that modulating the endocannabinoid system might help patients with a range of gastrointestinal and bladder conditions. Its authors write that any drug that can inhibit endocannabinoid system degradation or raise the body’s levels of endocannabinoids -which CBD does – “are promising candidates for gastrointestinal and urinary diseases.”
Early research is promising, but there isn’t enough yet to form a full picture. I’d like to better understand why cannabis seems to reduce my flares, but for now, I know it’s helping, and that’s enough.
Personal anecdotes are no match for peer-reviewed studies, but the fact is there’s still a lot we don’t know about IC. In that respect, it’s not that different from the many painful conditions – largely suffered by women – we know little about, such as fibromyalgia, or endometriosis.
I look forward to increasing research that can explain why I experience pain, and why cannabis helps it. But until that day, I get a certain philosophical satisfaction from the fact that a drug we don’t know that much about seems to help so many conditions we don’t know much about either, including IC.
CBD for UTI – August 2022
Urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria gets into the urinary system, which includes your kidneys , bladder , ureters, and urethra.
Females are more likely to acquire UTI than males. Infection in the bladder can be excruciating and upsetting. It can also have serious implications when it spreads to the kidneys. (1 )
What are the Symptoms?
The lining of the bladder and urethra turns red and sore when one experiences a UTI. This causes pain in the pelvic part of the lower abdomen and lower back. The most common symptom is burning or pain while urinating.
There is a feeling of an intense need to urinate, but only a few drops are excreted . It is because the bladder is so inflamed that it makes one feel like urinating, even though there is not much urine inside the bladder. The urine of a person with UTI also smells unpleasant.
This condition needs to be treated immediately because a UTI in the bladder can cause a kidney infection that can spread to the bloodstream and cause a more severe health problem. (2 )
What Are the Risk Factors for Developing a UTI?
- Not drinking ample amount of water
- Intentionally holding urine for a long time
- Damages or injuries on the spinal cord or other nerves (which makes it hard for the bladder to drain regularly)
- Other complications that obstruct the flow of urine (kidney stone, enlarged prostate, sexual intercourse, etc.)
- Diabetes and other disorders (which limits the capacity of the body’s immune system to battle against infections) (3 )
The cause of a UTI is from a bacteria traveling from the outside of the body near the urethra, into the urethra and then to the bladder. The bacteria originate from the bowel microbiome in most cases unless there has been a catheter placed for some medical reason.
How Can CBD Help Cure UTI?
CBD has wide-ranging activity in terms of reducing inflammation and the damaging effects of free radicals.
Here is how CBD works to lessen the inflammation we suffer during UTI. Once the urinary tract is infected, our body’s protection mechanism starts to combat this infection. I t directs a number of immune cells to the affected part to get rid of any pathogens that may damage the body. This results in inflammation and pain. CBD in Cannabis may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that may reduce the effect of UTI by lessening the swelling and pain, and may help fight the bacteria that has infiltrated the body . (4 ) It is unclear if CBD alone is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic or if it needs to be in a cocktail with Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol THC, the psychoactive component of Cannabis.
CBD , used in conjunction with THC, increases the endocannabinoid 2-ag, which reduces the number of immune cells being sent out. CBD not only helps with inflammation but can also help with treating pain. CBD also raises the endocannabinoid anandamide, which helps in reducing your pain sensitivity. (5 )
CBD , used in conjunction, with THC may also be a powerful antibacterial that can help destroy some of the most drug-resistant bacteria. It has been promoted for a wide range of health benefits and can be used as a treatment for people with UTI. A study reveals that CBD is remarkably effective in killing bacteria, including those responsible for many severe infections, such as staphylococci and streptococci. (6 )
Urinary tract infections are quite common, extremely painful , and uncomfortable. Some cases lead to more serious conditions. One must know how to spot UTI symptoms and get antibiotics before they get too serious . Cannabis alone is not the first-line therapy but may serve as a useful preventative measure in those who suffer from recurrent UTIs.
CBD has emerged as a solution to a variety of medical conditions and CBD work continues to grow and validate its effectiveness across a wide variety of health concerns, including its impact on UTI.
As previously mentioned, the positive results suggest that CBD /THC may have healing effects on UTI due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and pain-relieving properties. Whether CBD alone can treat or prevent a UTI remains unstudied.
Good hygiene and staying hydrated are some of the safe practices to prevent urinary tract infection. Most importantly, people who are experiencing aches, chills, or fever associated with kidney infections or symptoms that are indicative of a UTI must see the doctor immediately.
CBD for Interstitial Cystitis – Does it Help?
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a condition that causes long-term pelvic pain. If you have ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI), you understand the distress this bladder condition causes. It tends to affect people in their 30s and 40s and is much more common in women than men.
Still, unlike UTI, which antibiotics can cure, Interstitial Cystitis does not have a cure, and it can have a significant impact on your daily life, physical and emotional health, and relationships. Fortunately, various treatments can help relieve the symptoms.
Things that can help relieve the pain of these symptoms include lifestyle changes. The traditional therapies include dietary modifications, avoiding certain foods or drinks, reducing stress, pelvic floor therapy, and cannabis.
Cannabis is one of the most practical ways to deal with a chronic condition like IC, and it has been used medicinally for centuries. Cannabis-based products, such as CBD oils and CBD lubricants, have positive effects, can help to decrease inflammation, and potentially alleviate pelvic pain.
Does CBD Lube Work For Interstitial Cystitis?
In our body, we can find multiple cannabinoid receptors that endocannabinoids can bind to, including the lower urinary tract; this means that CBD lubricants are helpful treatments for bladder conditions such as Interstitial Cystitis.
In fact, CBD has effects on people diagnosed with many different illnesses and is proven to do more than relieve pain. Still, it also helps improve sleep quality, which potentially reduces the pain throughout the day and in the mornings also helps with inflammations. CBD’s therapeutic effects are numerous, which is why it would work for all the pains and symptoms that Interstitial Cystitis causes.
Unfortunately, the use of CBD for Interstitial Cystitis is only supported by anecdotal evidence. Some hopeful findings say that cannabinoid receptors are present in the lower urinary tract, which means the bladder walls line up with cannabinoid receptors. So, if systemic cannabinoids affect the lower urinary tract, they may become clinically useful.
CBD Dosage For Interstitial Cystitis
To know how much CBD to take for Interstitial Cystitis, there have been studies where the subjects are given between 150mg CBD, 300mg CBD up to 600mg CBD. Results said that the 300mg dose of CBD reduces pelvic pain significantly.
Sexologist and author Dr. Sadie Allison, and CBD scientist John Renko, B.S.E. created GoLove’s CBD lubricant specifically to enhance wellness and sexual health. As a result, it can help relax pelvic floor muscles and reduce any discomfort and inflammation that Interstitial Cystitis may cause. In case you want to learn more about this, you can read our article about the best lube for Interstitial Cystitis .
GoLove CBD Lubricant comes in several sizes, 40ml with 200mg of CBD and 5ml with 25mg of CBD, and these concentrations are high enough to be effective and safe. Besides, anyone can use it as GoLove is water-based, hypoallergenic, latex-safe, and pH-balanced.