Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) cured by Marijuana

This post is for people with Chronic Kidney Disease wanting to know about marijuana use.

For the record. I have no problem with healthy people occasionally using marijuana. I also understand that there are some medical conditions that marijuana can be helpful with.

This is NOT the case for chronic kidney disease

You can always find someone that will say they did X for XX years and had X and everything is great.

Some people smoke for 70 years and don’t develop lung problems or cancers. But smokers are still at huge risk. It is foolish to take an exceptional case and make a life changing decision based on it. Some people are heavy drinkers for 70 years and their livers survive. But heavy drinkers are still at huge risk. It is foolish to take an exceptional case and make a life changing decision based on it. You could insert dozens of other examples here. But it is foolish to take an exceptional case and make a life changing decision based on it.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients need to be cautious of everything they consume. This is something even a medical school student should know. The stage of your disease will determine how cautious you need to be. But even Stage 1 patients should start to become aware of how what the consume effects their kidneys.

This is true for even the normal food you eat. CKD patients depending on the stage they are in need to have a modified diet. The farther the progress of the disease the stricter the diet needs to be. Even meat which wouldn’t be harmful at all with healthy kidneys needs to be consumed with caution in the later stages of CKD.

This is true for alcohol. People with healthy kidneys can consume alcohol in moderate amounts. CKD patients should not consume alcohol.

This is true for over the counter and prescription medications. Common medications everyone uses such as aspirin can be harmful for CKD patients. Antibiotics can have a negative effect for CKD patients. Every CKD patient should know this.

If you accept all these normally safe things can be bad for CKD patients how could you believe that marijuana or smoking anything can be safe for CKD patients?

If you have kidney disease EVERYTHING you consume needs to be controlled. You are not a normal healthy person. Stage 2 or 3a and you are starting the slide down a hill with a very bad bottom. If you are in stage 3b or 4 you have a very serious condition. It is easy to ignore at this point because of the limited negative symptoms but it is serious and must be controlled. When you approach stage 5 you will realize you have a life threatening condition whether you want to or not.

If you’re an otherwise healthy younger person you have a chance. A good chance with proper medical care AND lifestyle choices. We’ve come a long way in treating kidney disease.

If you have out of control diabetes, high blood pressure, heart or lung issues you probably have around 5yrs left. Your doctor will try what he can and he will encourage you, but you are dying and the doctor is just trying to put the best face on the situation.

If you have out of control blood pressure and diabetes along with the heart and lung problems and haven’t developed the discipline needed to deal with serious medical conditions forget about the success of a transplant. Even if you are lucky enough to get a transplant it will fail. If you don’t have enough discipline to control your blood sugar or pressure you don’t have enough discipline to make your transplant successful.

Sorry if this is direct and insensitive but people smoking or using marijuana with CKD need a strong dose of truth not sensitivity. Your life is at stake. A good doctor cares about you and understands how to care for you. The person advocating marijuana or smoking does not understand CKD.

If you think they know or do, ask them about the relationship between diet and CKD, the tests needed to evaluate the relationship and how to holistically interpret those tests to get an accurate picture of your kidney function. PCPs sometimes struggle to understand these test results. The person selling marijuana doesn’t have a clue. This isn't intended to attack marijuana advocates or vendors. But they do not know anything about CKD.

The less control you choose to exercise over your health, the faster the disease will progress. For CKD it’s all about slowing the progress of the disease. Marijuana use makes this more difficult at best.There have been no studies based specifically on marijuana or vaping, they should be done but what they will tell us should not be a surprise for CKD patients. There will be a negative effect. The depth of that effect will depend on many factors such as:

-The exact chemicals you are consuming. The issue does not depend on whether or not the intoxicating chemicals in Marijuana are directly harmful to your kidneys, but if they and all of the other chemicals you are consuming as a byproduct of use are harmful.

-The rate the chemicals enter your system and the level of the chemicals are present.

I won’t argue that occasional (a few times a month) light use of marijuana will harm CKD patients. At this level there are probably other things in your life that are a more of a concern.

I am arguing that regular (>weekly) use of marijuana in any form and in any method or binge use is a significant risk for CKD patients.

We know for an absolute fact that the chemicals that are a byproduct of smoking anything (whether traditionally smoking or vaping) will have a negative effect on your kidneys. It doesn’t matter whether it is tobacco, marijuana, or your lawn clipping. For a normal heathy person this might never matter. CKD patients are not normal healthy people.

When you are consuming marijuana products you are consuming not just the intoxicating chemicals you want, but the byproducts such fertilizers and pesticides used in growing the plant. Fertilizers and pesticides release chemicals when you vaporize and when you smoke. Vaporizing doesn’t just magically release only the feel good chemicals. Fertilizers and pesticides are present in edibles. When you are using e-cigarettes, you are consuming the byproducts of not only the marijuana but also the chemicals used in the suspension liquid.

You in all likelihood have no way of knowing what chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides are present. If you grow your own with organic fertilizers and no chemical pesticides your risk is less. If you’re getting it from someone you don’t know you have no idea what is used to grow it regardless of what the seller tells you.

And if you think that organic fertilizer make things safe think again. Phosphorus toxicity and CKD is real problem and all that high potency hydroponic organic marijuana is an ideal way to this problem for CKD patients. This is even becoming an issue in heavy marijuana users who are otherwise healthy.

Marijuana effects the stability of serum and urine sodium and potassium levels. This is a problem for CKD patients. It wouldn’t be noticeable for a healthy person.

Since marijuana effects your sodium and potassium levels it effects your ability to maintain stable hydration. Drink too little and you become dehydrated. Bad for CKD patients. Drink too much sports drink and you have high sodium and potassium levels. Bad for CKD patients. Drink too much plain water and you have low levels of sodium and potassium. Bad for CKD patients. It wouldn’t be noticeable for a healthy person.

For these factors It doesn’t matter whether you smoke, vape, or eat it.

The simple fact that formaldehyde is present is enough to completely and definitely say that CKD patients should not smoke or vape anything.

And it doesn’t matter what you think is water soluble and what is fat soluble. This stuff all ends up in your kidneys in one form or another. Don’t risk your health being an amateur scientist.

Again the damage you are doing will depend on the factors listed above (composition, level and rate) but damage is being done. You can manage your risk and control the damage, but not eliminate it.
In an otherwise healthy person this might not be a problem. For someone with CKD it is a problem.
On top of all this you are doing some level of damage to your lungs. Lung damage will change your kidneys because of their effect on your blood and the resulting stress. Vaping may do less damage than smoking. We don’t know. But even if it is less or minimal for normal people, the risk vaping presents is not acceptable for CKD patients.

You are doing some level of damage to your heart.

Smoking anything will have an effect your blood pressure. This has a negative effect on your whole body especially your kidneys. Marijuana causes blood pressure to be lower immediately, but the effect of smoking anything will raise your overall blood pressure. These swings in blood pressure put stress on your kidneys. Normally having a relatively stable blood pressure of 70/100 or 90/130 wouldn’t be a huge concern (not good but not a huge concern). Regularly having your blood pressure swing between 70/100 and 90/130 is a concern for CKD patients. If you’re on blood pressure medication, the combined effect can cause dangerously low blood pressure.

If your CKD disease is from diabetes a well-known side effect of marijuana use is the “munchies” and increased desire for sugars and carbs. You can control this but the loss of impulse control that is well known for causing binge eating and is a concern. You may think you just ate “a little” but you might have in fact eaten much more than you realize. For a healthy person it might be funny that that entire bag of chips disappeared and you don’t remember eating them. For a diabetic this can cause dangerous spikes in blood sugar. Spikes in blood sugar are a problem in general for diabetics but manageable. Spikes in blood sugar for diabetics with CKD are a problem.

And using insulin while intoxicated with anything is suicidal especially with faster acting insulin. You need to be sober to know how to use your insulin. You need to be sober to recognize the effects of low blood sugar. You may think you go to sleep because of the intoxication but this could be dangerously low blood sugar, especially if you use extra insulin to deal with the blood sugar spikes from the munchies.

Some cancers are simple to treat for a healthy person. That same treatment can be a crisis for someone with CKD. You might survive the cancer only to spend the rest of your life on dialysis because the treatment for the cancer destroyed what was left of your kidneys.

Smoking anything will increase your risk of lung/esophageal/oral damage/cancer. Smoking anything will increase your risk of renal cancers. CKD raises your risk of renal cancer. High blood pressure or swings increase your risk of renal cancer. Having all three places you at a significantly higher risk for renal cancers. Lung and renal cancers are at the top of the list for cancers that will kill you.

Smoking anything increases your risk of bladder cancer. CKD increases your risk for bladder cancer. Common oral medication for diabetes increase your risk for bladder cancer. Any single one of these is a source for concern. Having all three places you at a significantly higher risk for bladder cancer.

Any single one of these factor is enough to say CKD patients should not smoke or use marijuana. All of them put to together is even more significant and clear that CKD patients should avoid this risk.

Now look at medications.

Most people with CKD are on many medications because of underlying conditions. It is not uncommon for a diabetic to be on a couple of oral medicines to control their blood sugar plus possibly insulin, a medication for their blood pressure, another for their cholesterol, another stomach issues common in diabetics, maybe something for neuropathy. In patients with serious chronic illnesses depression and anxiety is often a factor so there might be one or two medicines here. This doesn’t even begin to list the meds needed in later stage CKD.

Understanding how all these medications interact is difficult for doctors and since marijuana hasn’t been studied extensively and there is limited data doctors have no idea how marijuana effects many medicines. Adding marijuana to the mix is needlessly complicating and increases your risks in an already risky health situation.

There are some medications we know have bad interactions with marijuana that are used in people with CKD and the underlying diseases that often go along with them.

Amitriptyline is a common medicine used to treat neuropathy in diabetics. This can cause cardiac issues when combined with marijuana. Cardiac issues = Kidney problems. Marijuana negatively interacts with some blood pressure medications. Antidepressants can have very bad interactions with marijuana.

Doctors don’t know if there is direct link between the chemicals in marijuana and the medications or if the way marijuana alters your blood chemistry is the source of the problem or if it’s a combination. We don’t know. For people with CKD there are better options. All medications have interactions. Marijuana isn’t bad because it interacts but for people with chronic health conditions it is an unnecessary risk.

Some people point out that marijuana is useful for treating some of these. Marijuana can be useful for treating anxiety and depression in mild or acute cases (it also can make serious/chronic anxiety depression worse). For people with CKD there are better options. The benefits do not come close to outweighing the risks.

It can be very useful for treating peripheral and focal neuropathy (it can make autonomic neuropathy worse). For people with CKD there are better options. The benefits do not come close to outweighing the risks.

Probably one of marijuana’s best known uses is in treating nausea. People with diabetes often have stomach issues. This type of nausea is long term and chronic, not the short term nausea caused for example by cancer treatment. Because of the tolerance that builds up marijuana is not a good choice for dealing with chronic long term nausea and its eventual heavy use will lead to nausea being worse. If you experience GERD from your diabetes, smoking will make it worse.

We also do not understand how marijuana use can affect lab tests and lab tests are critical for managing CKD and diabetes.

If all this is not enough to convince you that marijuana use is not worth the risks it brings do something really simple. Go to a cancer or dialysis support group. Watch and listen. You don’t want to transition for spectator to participant.

If you’re a CKD patient you can choose to accept these facts or believe the myths. You can also choose to believe the universe is 6000yrs old, the earth is being carried on the back of an invisible magic turtle, Santa Claus is real or any other wild belief people come up with.

But your CKD will progress faster, your health will get worse, your quality of life will be greatly diminished and end in an early unpleasant death. People with CKD should not smoke or use marijuana.

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