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The kidneys are an important body cleansing organ, whose smooth functioning is an absolute prerequisite for optimal health. Kidney-related diseases are rapidly becoming more common, side by side with type 2 diabetes. In this article, we will learn about kidney failure, kidney inflammation, the endocannabinoid system behind the kidneys, and whether CBD oil could be helpful in supporting the treatment of kidney diseases.
Functions of the kidneys
Normally, a person has two kidneys, located below the ribs, on either side of the spine. Kidneys have several important functions in terms of life. They both clean the blood and body fluids of waste materials, but also regulate the body’s acid-base, fluid and salt balance. (1)
Kidney-related diseases are rapidly becoming more common and are found in men almost twice as often as in women. Kidney diseases are often accompanied by other diseases as well.
In kidney failure, the blood is not cleaned properly, and fluids do not circulate in the body quickly enough. Impairment progresses individually depending on the cause of the impairment.
Impairment is determined by the plasma creatinine concentration (P-crea), which is affected by the ability of the kidneys to filter blood. The calculated renal filtration rate, GFR, classifies the severity of the impairment, and if it is less than 15 ml/min, it is already worth considering dialysis treatment. Readings below 60 ml/min indicate that the kidneys are working poorly. (2)
Creatinine is a metabolic product of muscles, and its elevated amount in the blood indicates a weakened ability of the kidneys to filter the blood. Of course, there are other reasons for an elevated creatinine concentration, e.g. dehydration or obstructions in the secretion of urine, and it does not always indicate that the kidneys are functioning poorly. (1,2)
As you get older, the GFR value naturally decreases, and kidney failure is most common among the older population. The most common causes of impaired function are type 2 diabetes, aging and diseases related to vascular health.
Sudden (acute) kidney failure
Sometimes dehydration, i.e. profuse vomiting/diarrhea or profuse bleeding, infection, surgery, etc. may cause sudden, short-term kidney failure. Most of the time, the condition goes away on its own with the removal of the cause, such as adequate hydration.
Kidney failure causes almost no symptoms until the need for dialysis treatment is already close. At that time the symptoms are e.g. itchy skin, nausea, loss of appetite and weight loss.
Mild kidney failure is often discovered by accident in connection with other research or, for example, an occupational health check-up, because it can be seen in a normal comprehensive blood count as an increase in the value of P-crea and P-urea. (1,2)
The best way to treat the kidneys is to prevent their failure. Of course, it is not always possible, because the impairment can develop suddenly, e.g. as a result of severe diarrhea, but good, health-supporting lifestyles also contribute to kidney health. Exercise, diet, moderate alcohol consumption and not smoking are the best ways to prevent kidney-related diseases. Moderate use of anti-inflammatory drugs during life can also promote the well-being of the kidneys. (3)
In mild cases, kidney failure is treated with diet, lifestyle changes and medication, but if the situation is already long-standing and the failure is severe, the treatment is dialysis, i.e. treatment that replaces kidney function or a kidney transplant.
Diet plays a significant role in the treatment of kidney failure, as it is also often largely the cause of its onset. A diet that supports the kidneys is low in salt, contains moderately good, high-quality fats and a wide variety of foods such as vegetables, fruits, meat and eggs. (3)
Especially in the case of advanced insufficiency, attention should be paid to excessive potassium and phosphorus, because their excessive intake and the inability of the kidneys to take care of the salt balance is a bad combination from a health point of view. (3)
Renal failure in cats and dogs
Cats and dogs also have kidney failure, which is mostly acute kidney damage. Clear symptoms include e.g. copious drinking and urination, as well as fatigue and vomiting. Sudden kidney damage is often caused by poisoning or lack of oxygen in the kidneys, which are the result of unsuitable food or e.g. from drying out the body.
When acute kidney damage occurs in pets, it is important to get treatment quickly, because the situation progresses quickly. It is estimated that up to half of the deaths of cats and dogs are caused by acute kidney injury. (4,5)
Kidney infections are rare and they occur when bacteria that cause inflammation enter the kidneys. More commonly, kidney-related infections are known both as urinary tract infection, which does not always progress to the kidneys, and as mole fever, which is always accompanied by inflammation in the kidneys and their impaired function. Inflammation of the glomeruli, or glomerulonephritis, is caused by streptococcal bacteria, but is very rare, whereas TIN, or inflammation of the kidney tissue and interstitial tissue as well. (6)
Symptoms and treatment
Symptoms include red-brown urine, burning when urinating, pain on both sides of the lower back, nausea and fatigue. Of course, nausea and fatigue alone are not a sign of kidney-related inflammation, but they also need some other typical symptom. (6)
Kidney infections are always treated based on the cause, usually with medication.
Effect of alcohol on the kidneys
Abundant use of alcohol can damage the kidneys, as alcohol interferes with e.g. maintaining the body’s salt balance. The use of alcohol itself has numerous properties that negatively affect health, and several of these eventually also affect the health of the kidneys.
More information about the effects of alcohol on health, as well as the use of CBD together with alcohol can be found here .
The endocannabinoid system and the kidney
The endocannabinoid system is a system that has a balancing effect on the background of all body systems. The system in question is found in all humans and animals, and its operating principle is the same for all. The endocannabinoid system includes endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG , their corresponding receptors CB1 and CB2 and the enzymes that break them down, mainly FAAH and MAGL enzymes.
Since the endocannabinoid system affects the background of almost all functions of the body, its components are everywhere in the body, including the kidneys and the background of their functions.
Anandamide affects the kidneys at least in maintaining the body’s salt balance, and 2-AG seems to be involved in at least repairing kidney-related damage. (7,8)
Changes in cannabinoid receptor levels have been observed in connection with kidney diseases, and depending on the disease, they are either low or high compared to a healthy person. Both receptors are found in the kidneys and have several important functions. (7,8)
CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound found in the hemp plant that, according to research, has effects on health. CBD has been observed good e.g. to reduce inflammation, sleep quality to equalize, restless legs to soothe, cardiovascular health impressive, for pain relief and to reduce nausea . CBD has other good properties, but these effects could be helpful in supporting the treatment of kidney-related diseases. (9)
The kidneys are an important organ whose tasks include, for example, maintenance of fluid balance. Sometimes the deficiency can be difficult to notice, as the symptoms may be quite imperceptible. CBD oil has properties that may alleviate symptoms of kidney failure and inflammation.
- Kidney and Liver Association. Kidney deficiency. https://www.muma.fi/sairaudet/munuaiset/munuaisten_vajaatoiminta. Referenced 03/07/2023.
- Saha H.. 2019. Duodecim health library. Kidney failure (uremia). https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/dlk00587. Referenced 03/07/2023
- Nylund P.. 2018. The best treatment for kidney failure is effective prevention. https://sic.fimea.fi/verkkolehdet/2018/1_2018/munuaiset-ja-laake/munuaisten-vajaaainningen-paras-hoito-on-ehtokas-ennaltaehkaisy. Referenced 03/07/2023.
- Sympathetic expert vets. Sympatti oy. https://www.sympaatti.fi/artikkelit/munuaisten-vajaatoiminta-kissalla-ja-koiralla. Referenced 03/07/2023.
- Gordin E., Viitanen S. and Spillmann T.. 2018. Sic!. Acute kidney damage in cats and dogs must be detected early and treatment started quickly. https://sic.fimea.fi/verkkolehdet/2018/1_2018/palstat/kissan-ja-koiran-akuutti-munuaishähö-on-todettava-varhain-ja-hoito-aloitettava-nopeasti . Referenced 03/07/2023.
- Jalanko H.. 2021. Duodecim health library. https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/dlk00632. Referenced 03/07/2023.
- Chua JT, Argueta DA, DiPatrizio NV, Kovesdy CP, Vaziri ND, Kalantar-Zadeh K. and Moradi H.. Endocannabinoid System and the Kidneys: From Renal Physiology to Injury and Disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6653784/. Referenced 03/07/2023
- Ho C., Martinusen D. and Lo C.. 2019. A Review of Cannabis in Chronic Kidney Disease Symptom Management. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.sagov/pmc/articles/PMC6388458/. Referenced 03/07/2023.
- Park F., Potukuchi PK, Moradi H. and Kovesdy CP. 2017. Cannabinoids and the kidney: effects in health and disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5792153/. Referenced 03/07/2023.