Battling Kidney Disease

Kidney disease affects your ability to filter blood, and the failure to filter blood and urine of toxins means bodily functions can ultimately begin to shut down. As these foreign toxins in waste builds up, swelling in the ankles, nausea, poor sleep and weakness are to follow. Ultimately, the kidneys can stop working altogether, which is often fatal.  

Healthy kidneys keep a good balance of minerals. Taken from water, it can remove waste from blood after digestion and muscle activity. Kidneys also help keep sodium and potassium at healthy levels in the blood.

Kidney disease does not have one cause, but leading factors that increase the risk of developing chronic kidney disease, or CKD, (3 months) is diabetes and high blood pressure. Other factors include smoking, obesity, and injury. 

There are 5 stages to kidney disease that are measured through eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate) achieved through blood tests.

  1. (90 or greater eGFR) Mild kidney damage, changes in urine.
  2. (60-89) Still mild kidney damage, but more protein in the urine.
  3. (30-59) Kidney function falls off, and comes with back pain, swelling.
  4. (15-29) High blood pressure, anemia, and bone disease. Preparation for a transplant and dialysis is needed.
  5. (<15) An array of symptoms come with this stage, but consist of nausea. Back pain, appetite loss, trouble sleeping and breathing.

Statistics

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), CKD causes more deaths than breast cancer or prostate cancer, and is recognized as the under-recognized public health crisis. An estimated 38 million are affected by CKD, more than 1 in 7 adults. 

There are more than 661,000 Americans with kidney failure. 468,000 of these are on dialysis, and roughly 193,000 live with a functioning kidney transplant. Dialysis is a late-stage requirement, and is essential for survival when people are at stage 5, complete kidney failure, requiring a transplant. 

Scientists aren’t sure why, but African Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans are at a much higher risk of developing kidney disease. African Americans are 3.7 times more likely, while 1.5 times greater for the other respective ethnicities. High blood pressure and diabetes are known to increase this, but females are also moderately more likely to develop kidney disease, who are nearly 16% higher in prevalence. 

According to the CDC, having CKD increases the chances of having heart disease and stroke. Managing high blood pressure, which is critical for those with CKD, is much more difficult with damaged kindeys, as kidney failure can cause things like anemia, low calcium levels, higher potassium levels in the blood (causing abnormal heartbeats), and an increase in fluids in the body.

The economic cost, as of 2016, was estimated to be $114 billion. This is for Medicare costs including all stages. Each dialysis patient costs roughly $89,000 in Medicare expenses. While transplants cost $35,000 per patient. 

Every day, 240 people on dialysis die. At the same time, men have higher mortality rates than women. An estimated 3 men develop end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) for every 2 women who develop ESKD.

Quality of Life

Interestingly, in the early stages, there are almost no symptoms to signify any problems. Many people with CKD say that it started with very foamy urine, while also experiencing high blood pressure. Physically, there aren’t any major symptoms that will grab the person’s attention. This can be problematic in the fact that treatment can begin a bit late. However, it’s often found early. 

However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms can become more obvious. However, even in the late stages, some represent little symptoms. An interesting thing to note, as the damage, as extensive as it can get, can progress without any alarms. 

CKD symptoms include: 

  1. Nausea/vomiting 
  2. Abnormal urinating patterns/foam
  3. Weakness, fatigue, and tiredness 
  4. Muscle cramps, more often in the legs.
  5. Dry, itchy skin
  6. Poor sleep quality
  7. Loss of appetite and weight

Remember, you’re at a higher risk if you have high blood pressure and/or diabetes. If these symptoms apply to you, consider seeing a doctor.

Quality of life decreases across the board, and things such as age play a factor in it. People on dialysis experience a lower quality of life compared to those in earlier stages. Depression has an incidence rate of 10% in the general population but is more common among those with CKD. Up to ⅓ of patients on dialysis have depression. It isn’t fully clear if the medications/treatments are responsible for the decrease in quality of life (such as depression and lack of sleep,) but many psychosocial aspects are at play. 

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is just one of the many medicinal components found in cannabis/hemp. It has taken light in the medical field the last decade for its anxiolytic properties, as well as its anticonvulsant and sleep-inducing properties. 

CBD is non-psychoactive, which is an appealing aspect for hundreds of reasons, but it allows the user to experience the medicinal properties without the “high” that THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, has.

CBD works by influencing what is known as the endocannabinoid system (ENS). This is a part of our central nervous system and has the responsibility of processing the many cannabinoids. On a side note, the ENS is found in other animals, which is why pets could benefit from it as well.

The metabolism process behind the ECS is vastly complex, but essentially, there are receptors known as CB1 and CB2 found in clusters all around the body, including the pancreas, liver, digestive tract, and even bone marrow. The largest cluster is found in the brain, where CB1 receptors latch to these cannabinoids, and studies have shown the ability to monitor and regulate many bodily functions, including the production of serotonin/dopamine. 

So, how can CBD possibly help those with kidney disease?

CBD For Kidney Disease

ECS and Kidneys

There are indeed these receptors found in the kidneys as well. In fact, it’s how some studies show there is potential in CBD improving blood pressure.

 First off, CBD is a strong anti-inflammatory. This is beneficial in the fact that pain, cramping, and irritated skin are common factors for those with CKD. But as to manage the pain, CBD could be a strong alternative, according to one study. It found that CBD can reduce the toxins in the kidneys, as patients who did not use medicinal cannabis had higher toxicity. 

Function and Pain

Studying the impact these receptors have on the kidneys can represent some restorative properties as well. The study found that CB1 and CB2 receptors were able to improve the working function of the kidneys in animals with diabetic kidneys. 

A study published by the NCBI found that patients with renal impairment using non-synthetic cannabinoids were 43% to 300% more likely to report a >30% reduction in chronic neuropathic pain, when compared to a placebo. The same publishing found expressed that obese insulin-resistant rats (with CB1 receptors in the kidneys as well)  prevented proteinuria, renal function decline, as well as fibrosis. At the same time, the rats had improved body weight, and fasting glucose/lipids. Approximately ⅔ of predialysis patients with CKD (stages 3-5) experience chronic pain, while 48% report their pain as severe. Opioids are commonly prescribed for those with CKD, on top of the concern for risk of using these, they aren’t fully effective either. The pain experienced is neuropathic, which is a type of pain notoriously difficult to ease. However, observational studies found that marijuana legalized states found a massive decrease in opioid prescriptions, including that of those with CKD. 

Nausea and Vomiting 

This is one of the more common symptoms and found across all stages, but primarily stages 4 and 5. This is because salivary functions show greater sodium to potassium ratios, commonly linked to nausea. On top of that, the initiation of dialysis is going to cause nausea. Of course, if the person is diabetic, then they are more prone to symptoms. As mentioned above, CBD is considered a multifunctional drug and is also studied for its effects on nausea in patients going through chemotherapy. 

Insomnia

Yes, you’ve probably heard about how CBD is supposed to help one’s sleep. And that would make sense, as it’s the second most common reason people use it. Studies show that CBD can actively monitor the chemical imbalances from neurotransmitters. And higher doses of CBD can induce sleep, while also keeping the person asleep, a critical aspect for those suffering from PTSD. 

Preliminary research suggests that CBD, when under controlled doses, have therapeutic properties for insomnia by actively affecting each stage of REM cycles. Serotonin is a critical area of study for people with depression and insomnia. Since the two are often linked, biological findings show that people with these conditions have lower levels of serotonin. CBD has been shown to alter these imbalances, including serotonin. However, the same study also found that higher doses of CBD often resulted in daytime sleepiness, while the administration of THC can hurt sleep latency. 

Key Points

Quality of life drastically falls off for those with CKD. On top of that, treatment options are absolutely vital, and dialysis/opioids can decrease quality of life as well. From the increasing rates of CKD, treatment options are being considered, and CBD is a primary contender. 

Research at the moment calls for clinical trials to truly prove the efficacy of the ECS and the role at which the receptors play in our kidneys. However, the consensus continues to call for more research as the crisis gets worse. CBD consistently shows potential in aiding sleep as well as nausea, both critical symptoms of CKD. 

If clinical trials could further show the restorative properties CBD could have on the kidneys, then it would take one step further into becoming a component in treatment.

With time, as research grows, there will be a deeper understanding of how exactly CBD can possibly help an array of conditions. Until then, consider reading more on our Learn page. We offer knowledge, as well as a safe place to purchase CBD products.

If you are considering trying CBD for any of the ailments listed above, please consult a physician first. If you are using other medications, be sure to ask if CBD can fit in your plan, as it can affect other medications as well.

*Disclaimer* The scope of this article is to inform, not to give medical advice. We are not stating CBD as a cure for any of the ailments listed above. Consult your physician before trying CBD.

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