A new study published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Pharmacology finds that “… regular marijuana male users were inversely associated with kidney stones.” In other words, male patients who consume cannabis regulary (around 6 times a week) had a lower chance of developing kidney stones.
It should be noted that this was a correlational study, meaning it is difficult to conclude unequivocally that cannabis useage reduces the occurence of kidney stones in men. However, it is an encouraging result and opens new lines of inquiry for medical cannabis researchers.
Understanding Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are hard mineral and salt deposits that can form in your kidneys and sometimes make their way through your urinary tract. Passing a kidney stone can be excruciating, but the good news is that they usually don’t cause long-term damage if treated in time.
Did you know that kidney stones are more common in men than women? Of course, gender only plays so much of a role in whether you develop kidney stones. Other factors that can increase your risk are things like dehydration and diet.
The Link Between Cannabis and Kidney Stones
Now, let’s dive into the study. Researchers from China looked at more than 14,000 people aged 20 to 59 in the U.S. between 2009 and 2018. They collected data on kidney stones and cannabis use through surveys.
Their findings showed something quite intriguing: in male cannabis users, there appeared to be a lower risk of kidney stones. However, this link wasn’t found in the overall population or in women.
Why Might Cannabis Help?
Previous studies have shown that cannabinoids, which are the compounds in cannabis, can increase urine output without affecting excretion.
In simpler terms, it means that the diuretic effects of cannabinoids can help reduce the time crystals spend in the kidney, which in turn lowers the risk of kidney stone formation.
Or in other even more simpler terms, people who regularly use cannabis urinate more.
Additionally, one of the main components of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Kidney stones can form due to inflammation and oxidative stress, so CBD might help reduce these factors.
What About Female Cannabis Users?
Interestingly, the study didn’t find a link between cannabis use and kidney stones in women. Researchers think this might be because hormones, like estrogen, could play a role. Estrogen seems to be associated with a lower risk of kidney stones, especially in premenopausal women. Postmenopausal women, on the other hand, have a higher risk.
So, while cannabis use appeared to be linked to a lower risk of kidney stones in men, the same connection wasn’t seen in women.
It’s important to note that more research is needed to fully understand this connection, especially when it comes to the type and amount of cannabis used. If you’re concerned about kidney stones or are considering cannabis use, it’s always a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized advice.