Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid which is a plant-derived compound that binds to specific receptors that affect the neurotransmitter activity.
CBD is extracted from Cannabis sativa and diluted with a carrier oil (hemp seed oil) to produce CBD oil.
Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is not psychoactive and hence, this oil is used for medicinal purposes as it can relieve pain, anxiety, and inflammation.
Role in Kidneys in Our Body
The excretory system is involved in filtering the incoming blood off metabolic wastes which are eventually removed via the urine.
The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that play a pivotal role in filtration as they receive blood by means of a large network of renal arteries.
Chronic kidney failure is the condition that denotes impaired kidney function and their inability to properly rid the body of wastes.
Ways CBD Oil Promotes Kidney Health
The major benefits of using CBD/CBD oil to promote kidney health are linked to its ability to promote renal function. It mediates an anti-inflammatory response via the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and protects the nephrons from inflammatory and oxidative damage during drug-induced nephrotoxicity as well as ischaemic-reperfusion injury.
It also promotes the normal functioning of the glomerulus and can prevent the malfunctioning of the filtration mechanisms depending upon the type and stage of kidney injury. CBD also helps in delaying the progression of chronic kidney disease and relieve symptoms like acute pain by acting as an analgesic. It is also a potential therapy for diabetic nephropathy.
1. CBD Oil Reduces Drug-Induced Nephrotoxicity
Nephrotoxicity is an outcome of the presence of toxins in the renal tissue.
It is usually the harmful side-effect of substances like toxic chemicals and medications present in the body.
These toxins adversely affect the renal function and there are some rugs which alter the normal functioning of the kidneys in more than one way.
The nephrotoxic effect exerted by certain drugs is more pronounced in patients suffering from kidney failure.
However, it should not be confused with medications that stimulate renal function and filtration (e.g. heparin) as their dosages can be correspondingly adjusted to cancel out the effect and restore normal functioning.
Nephrotoxicity is usually reflected by the BUN value and/or creatinine levels.
Temporary elevations of these values might denote conditions like dehydration but prolonged and persistently abnormal results denote the development and progression towards renal failure via increased nephrotoxicity.
The BUN (blood urea nitrogen) value denotes the amount of nitrogen present in the body in the form of the metabolic waste urea.
It is used to detect the presence of excess nitrogenous wastes in the bloodstream and indicates the degree of failure of the renal filtration due to the presence of toxins.
Increased serum creatinine levels also denote a malfunction of the renal machinery to clear the body of wastes.
The platinum drug, cisplatin, is known to induce nephrotoxicity which is a major nuisance observed in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
It is usually absorbed by the tubular cells wherein it causes necrosis and cell death followed by inflammation and oxidative stress.
While many studies have been conducted to overcome the renal complications that follow chemotherapy, a 2009 study by the Zhejiang University has revealed that the phytocannabinoid CBD helps in reducing cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity.
It does so by triggering a cascade of anti-inflammatory reactions via the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and attenuating the inflammation and oxidative renal injury that is caused by the drug.
CBD helps in protecting the renal tissue by promoting an anti-inflammatory response and combating oxidative stress that is usually brought about by drug-induced nephrotoxicity.
2. CBD Protects from Renal Injury
Acute kidney injury or AKI refers to a sudden loss of kidney function such as kidney failure or kidney damage that happens rapidly within a few hours or at most days.
AKI is responsible for a sustained accumulation of waste products in the bloodstream which impairs the kidney’s ability to maintain a normal fluid balance.
The damage caused by AKI can gradually reach and harm other vital organs such as the heart, brain, as well as lungs. Kidney injury is quite common in hospitalized patients, particularly senior citizens.
The usual symptoms of AKI include inadequate urination, oedema around the eyes, fatigue, disorientation, nausea, seizures and chest pain. In some severe cases, the patient can go into a coma due to extreme loss of renal function.
However, there have been cases where the disorder has been asymptomatic and was only detected via routine medical tests.
The major cause behind AKI is usually insufficient or decreased blood flow. This condition can be brought on by several medical ailments and disorders.
Low blood pressure, severe diarrhoea causing fluid loss, cardiovascular problems like myocardial infarctions, as well as organ failure, particularly that of the heart and the liver.
Drugs like ibuprofen can also affect blood flow to the point that it might damage the kidneys.
Extensive research has been conducted to promote kidney health and renal function by preventing any form of AKI.
While many drugs have been used to achieve desired results, some medications often lead to nephrotoxicity.
Recently, the plant-derived cannabinoid, CBD, has gained popularity in protecting the renal function.
A 2017 study by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center revealed that cannabinoids like CBD help in protecting the renal tissue from injury.
It was shown that CBD can have a beneficial effect on the kidneys depending upon the type and stage of the renal injury and this effect is mediated by cannabinoid receptors which are frequently distributed across the renal tissue.
CBD helps in protecting the renal tissue from AKI depending upon the type and stage of the disease and this protective action is mediated via the endocannabinoid system. Thus, CBD usage helps in promoting kidney health.
3. CBD Oil Combats Diabetic Nephropathy
Diabetic kidney disease also referred to as diabetic nephropathy (DN), denotes a condition wherein there is a chronic loss of renal function that is brought about by the development of diabetes mellitus (DM).
The major outcome is the drop in glomerular filtration rate to a value that leads to the development of end-stage kidney disease (EKSD).
Excessive protein loss occurs due to glomerular damage and, as a result, generalized swelling occurs throughout the body due to low serum albumin levels.
DN is usually initiated by prolonged periods of hyperglycaemia and a malfunction in the blood glucose control mechanism.
This leads to abnormalities in the nephrons which are the functional units of the kidneys.
With the progression of DN, the glomerular capillaries, which are responsible for filtration, experience hypertension due to excess blood glucose.
However, this gradually changes to hypotension and there is a massive drop in the rate of filtration. The glomerulus experiences a lot of changes, particularly in its basement membrane and slit membranes.
These changes also lead to the accumulation of toxic deposits which slowly shut off filtration.
These are the major factors in how DN contributes to the loss of renal function. Research has shown that there are certain classes of antidiabetic medications which slow down the progress of DN and these include GLP-1 agonists, DPP-4 inhibitors, and SGLT2 inhibitors.
However, current research has shown that cannabinoids used in folk medicine have dormant potential in combating diabetic nephropathy.
A 2018 review by the University of Turin has indicated the importance of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the progression of DN.
As CBD binds to receptors of the ECS, it can potentially help in mediating a beneficial response and prevent the development of the DN.
CBD helps in mediating the ECS in such a way that it promotes healthy kidney function and combat the progression of diabetic kidney disease.
4. It Oil Lowers Chronic Kidney Disease
One of the major diseases that damage renal function is the chronic kidney disease (CKD).
The loss of kidney function is gradual and can take place over a period of months to even years. Initially, this disease is not marked by any notable symptoms.
However, with the progression of time, oedema appears in the limbs followed by excess fatigue. Loss of appetite is a common marker of CKD which can also lead to heart disease and anaemia.
The chief causes behind the development of CKD are diabetes, glomerulonephritis, hypertension, as well as polycystic kidney disease. Genetics and family history of the disease also increases the likelihood of contracting it.
As the symptoms manifest quite late, the diagnosis is generally based on the result of blood tests that measure the rate and time of glomerular filtration as well as give an estimate of the serum albumin concentrations.
Furthermore, kidney biopsies and ultrasounds can be undertaken to give an insight into the underlying cause.
As of 2016, CKD has affected approximately 753 million people across the world which includes around 336 million males and 417 million females.
In 2015, this disease resulted in 1.2 million deaths which have surpassed the morbidity rates of diabetes, hypertension, and glomerulonephritis.
Research has shown that initial treatments should include medications that lower blood pressure, blood glucose, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen should be avoided. Alternative medical therapies involving phytocannabinoids have become quite popular in treating kidney diseases.
A 2011 study by the University of Alberta has evaluated the role of the cannabinoid, CBD, in lowering CKD and relieving its symptoms.
The results have revealed that CBD can help in slowing the progression of the disease as well as manage acute pain caused due to renal malfunction.
As CBD helps in slowing down the development of CKD and relieve many symptoms including acute pain, it helps in promotes renal function and kidney health.
5. CBD Oil Prevents Renal Reperfusion Injury
Reperfusion injury or reoxygenation injury denotes a condition wherein the restored blood supply to the renal tissue causes damage, following a period of ischaemia (inadequate blood flow).
This is a consequence of an inflammatory response which generates toxic free radicals that affect the tissues after they suffered from limited or no oxygen supply.
Renal ischaemia occurs when there is a sustained deficiency in blood supply to the nephrons due to obstructions (embolisms) in the blood vessels or renal arterial stenosis.
Reoxygenation insult leads to complications like vascular injury, particularly in the network of renal arterioles and capillaries. The increased permeability of the blood vessels unusually augments the diffusion rate of blood across the nephrons causing tissue damage.
Inflammation also plays a key role in affecting the renal function.
The circulating immune cells produce an array of pro-inflammatory cytokines (signaling molecules) as well as oxygen-free radicals that work together to damage the cellular components.
These factors rupture the cell membranes and greatly damage the intracellular organelles.
The renal ischaemic cascade affects the glomerular filtration rates and can lead to the development of chronic kidney disease and renal failure. Therefore, controlling and counteracting RI are active areas of clinical research.
A 2015 review by the Universidade do Extremo Sul Catarinense evaluated the role of cannabidiol in treating renal reperfusion injury.
It was found that CBD prevented renal injury during reperfusion by lowering the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and also attenuating oxidative stress.
CBD protects renal health and function by preventing ischaemic-reperfusion injury. It does by lowering inflammatory responses and oxidative stress on the renal tissues.
CBD medications should not be administered without consulting a medical practitioner as they contain THC.
The dosage is dependent on the mode of delivery as well as the tolerance level of the patient.
There is no prescribed dosage for using CBD to promote kidney health.
However, patients can begin with small doses of 90-100mg per day until they develop better tolerances for the medication.
Vaporizers can be used to relieve pain and 6-8mg should be inhaled to have a good effect.
CBD is non-psychoactive and has very known side-effects. In fact, daily oral doses of up to 500mg can be had for as long as 6 months without producing any undue complications.
A 2011 review stated that even high doses of 1500mg can be tolerated for a period of 3 months.
The majority of CBD medications have varying amounts of the psychotropic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in them which is responsible for the side-effects.
While the amount of THC is still too insufficient to generate a substantial hallucinatory effect, some individuals may still be sensitive and hence, it is recommended to begin with small doses.
CBD interacts with a class of liver enzymes (cytochrome p450) which are responsible for metabolizing several prescription drugs and hence, CBD usage might reduce the efficacies of such medications.
Any THC-containing product might cause dizziness, disorientation, nausea, fatigue, impaired balance, hallucinations, and paranoia.
They might also cause tachycardia wherein the heart rate gets raised for a short duration. Cannabis products containing high amounts of THC should also not be accompanied by alcohol.
Pregnant and lactating women should consult a gynaecologist before consuming CBD products.
Caution should also be maintained while administering THC-containing products to children and adolescents as it might affect their CNS differently.
To summarize, it can be said that CBD promotes kidney health in several ways.
It protects the nephrons from damage in the case of drug-induced nephrotoxicity by preventing inflammation and combating the toxic effect of free radicals.
It is for the same reasons that CBD is also effective in protecting the renal tissue from reperfusion injury following ischaemia.
Cannabinoid receptors play a role in the development of acute kidney injury and CBD helps in combating this disease depending upon the stage by mediating the ECS.
It also delays the onset of chronic kidney disease and relieves pain experienced during renal malfunction. Finally, it also protects the kidney from the effects of diabetic nephropathy.