Living with interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome, feels like having a UTI that never goes away. For me, cannabis helps. If urinary tract infection persists, CBD Oil can help because of its natural antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and pain relief properties.
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.
Can CBD Oil Help Against UTI?
Urinary tract infection, or UTI can be a bit of an awkward topic nobody likes to discuss. Usually, UTI is something you just hope will blow over asap. Fortunately, urinary tract infections often pass quickly without complications. On the other hand, this condition is easy to underestimate. If left unchecked, the infection can spread. UTI can be painful too. The usual treatment is antibiotics, but the anti-inflammatory potential of CBD Oil may make this supplement suited for controlling UTI as well.
The Signs Of Urinary Tract Infection
Women are more likely to contract urinary tract infections than men. That sounds unfair – and it is. Nonetheless, it is a simple matter of anatomy: women’s urinary tracts are just easier to reach for bacteria such as e. coli. This makes UTI and associated infections more likely, but other factors can increase the risks as well:
- Not drinking enough water;
- Waiting too long between bathroom visits;
- Obstructions blocking urine flow (kidney stones, enlarged prostate);
- Diabetes and other conditions;
- Nerve damage or spinal problems preventing proper bladder function;
- Poor personal hygiene.
Urinary tract infections affect the entire surrounding anatomy, including the bladder, the ureter, urethra, and kidneys. This causes inflammation of the mucous membranes of the bladder and urinary tract, resulting in redness and pain. Pain usually focuses around the lower abdomen of lower back areas. The most common symptom is a burning or painful sensation while urinating. Another common sign of UTI is feeling the urge to pee without actually producing much urine when going to the bathroom. The irritation of the bladder’s membranes give the feeling of having to pee even though the bladder itself contains very little fluid. UTI gives urine a dark colour and an unpleasant smell.
How To Handle UTI
If you think you have UTI, the usual advice is to wait a few days to see if it goes away. Of course, you should always call your physician f you are worried about symptoms. If symptoms persist for a week or more, you should always contact a doctor as obviously, the infection is not going away by itself. Getting the right treatment is important to prevent kidney infection, which can eventually enter the bloodstream and cause serious problems and severe health risks.
The usual treatment for urinary tract infections consists of antibiotics. Drinking plenty of water could help flush bacteria from the bladder. Traditional folk cures include drinking ginger tea or cranberry juice. However, CBD Oil could be another effective way to treat UTI using natural means.
Why Could CBD Oil Help Treat UTI?
If you are looking for natural support for the early stages of UTI, CBD Oil can be a good option. Thus natural hemp supplement has ant-inflammatory and analgesic properties and can even have antibacterial effects. The effectiveness of CBD (cannabidiol) is due to its ability to influence CB1 and CB2 cell receptors. A 2013 study showed that CB1 receptors are involved in maintaining bladder health through CB1 receptors located inside the bladder itself.
Urinary tract infections start when bacteria enter the body. If these infect the urinary tract, the body reacts by fighting the bacteria. CBD can help in two ways here: it can help ease the pain and it can help stop the inflammation process. The body triggers an immune response by starting an inflammatory reaction intended to get rid of the bacteria. This causes pain, however, and excessive inflammatory reactions can damage healthy tissue. CBD can help to keep the inflammation under control, reducing painful swellings while helping to ease the pain.
Several studies have demonstrated how CBD can be effective against UTI. One report by Zun-Yi Wang and Dale Bjorling shows how CBD activates CB1 receptors, which can help keep UTI pain in check. Their data showed that cannabinoids can reduce inflammation as well as frequency of toilet visits. CBD could even help counter the bacterial infection. Research into CBD’s antibacterial properties showed that cannabidiol can stop some of the most resistant strains of bacteria we know.
Using CBD Oil To Treat UTI
Are you affected by urinary tract infection? CBD may be a great option for you, especially if the symptoms are still mild. It can help prevent escalation as well as reducing the painful, unpleasant sensation. That may save you from having to use antibiotics. Another big advantage of CBD is that it does not promote bacterial resistance, which is a serious problem for antibiotics treatments. If you want to try CBD against UTI, we suggest using either CBD Oil or CBD Tablets. If you are more into sweets, our CBD Gummies make a good alternative, as these come in four wonderful fruit flavours packed in a handy bag to take along wherever you go.