Some promising research has emerged about the benefits of cannabis to those who are diagnosed with overactive bladder syndrome, a condition which causes sudden and strong urges to urinate. Bladder dysfunction is not only extremely inconvenient for those who deal with it on a daily basis, but can also cause a great deal of social embarrassment due to accidents and the constant, panicked search for a bathroom.
In a recent study published in Natural Product Communications, a peer-reviewed journal, scientists administered cannabis compounds to mice and documented the effect the medicine had on bladder control. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid, cannabigerol (CBG), was found to be particularly effective at reducing the amount of contractions in the organ.
Previous studies, although few in number, have shown similar results. In 2013, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published research that showed that THC reduced urinary incontinence by as much as 25 percent.
Another study determined that marijuana could even reduce rates of bladder cancer in men. After surveying more than 84,000 men over 11 years, the study states that the disease affected:
“89 marijuana smokers (0.3%) compared with 190 men (0.4%) who did not report marijuana use.”
While some may cite confounding issues, the study’s authors continue:
“After adjusting for age, race or ethnicity, and body mass index, use of marijuana only was associated with a 45-percent decreased risk of bladder cancer, whereas use of tobacco was associated with a 52-percent increased risk.”
This is all encouraging news for those who deal with an overactive bladder on a daily basis. The American Urological Association reports that up to 27 percent of men and 43 percent of women experience problems with the condition. While many cases tend to go away within a year or so, many experience symptoms for much longer periods of time. In the United States, the cost of treating this disease exceeds $12 billion per year. This enormous number comes from expensive treatments such as surgical procedures and prescription medications.
Cannabis is currently classified by the United States government as having no medicinal value, but attitudes are shifting and more people are realizing the inaccuracy of that classification as more and more research is placed in the media spotlight. Nearly half the states across the nation have already adopted laws that legalize cannabis for medical use, and four states plus D.C. have legalized recreational use.
Even as a more widespread acceptance emerges for using cannabis to treat conditions, like ALS, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and cancer with cannabis, the anecdotal evidence and scientific research is just emerging about the positive effects on bladder dysfunction. While cannabis continues to be classified a Schedule I drug in the United States, keeping major blockades to access for research studies in place, the true potential of cannabinoid therapy in the treatment of bladder conditions will remain untapped.