By / October 19, 2022

Study Shows Cannabis Users More Likely to Have Overactive Bladder

Are you a cannabis user, or do you happen to have a more active bladder than the people around you? While this sequence of questions may seem odd, a new study suggests that cannabis use may be linked to an overactive bladder.

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Cannabis Use and Overactive Bladder

There is a lot we still don’t know about cannabis and its effects on the human body. Recently, researchers have analyzed the potential link between cannabis use and urination. A new study published in the American Journal of Medicine shows that cannabis use can lead to more frequent toilet use. Researchers found that cannabis users are more likely to experience overactive bladder than non-users.

Effects of Cannabis on Bladder Health

Previous studies have demonstrated the ability of cannabis to alleviate lower urinary tract symptoms, which had “the potential to cause significant health burdens.” In the study, researchers set out to test the link between regular cannabis use and an overactive bladder.

The study defines bladder hyperreactivity as “lower urinary tract symptoms, characterized by frequent urination, urgency, and nocturia (the need to get up and use the toilet at night), with or without urinary incontinence.”

Researchers Used Data From National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

For the analysis, the researchers obtained data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2018. Of the more than 18,000 samples collected, 24% of respondents were identified as regular cannabis users. The survey found that these people were more likely to be male, single, smokers, slimmer and younger compared to other survey participants. These people also reported more frequent incontinence and more frequent nighttime toilet use.

Although the study shows that regular cannabis users were more likely to suffer from overactive bladder disorders and nocturia, the researchers admitted that they do not understand the reason why cannabis would have such a specific effect on the bladder.

“Our data do not provide evidence for the efficacy of cannabinoids in treating patients with overactive bladder, especially given the irritable health problems caused by cannabis,” the study summary reads.

Confusing Results on the Impact of Cannabis on an Overactive Bladder

It’s a confusing and somewhat disappointing conclusion that may result in more questions than answers, especially when looking at previous studies on the subject.

How do cannabinoids from cannabis affect bladder function?

One 2015 study found that CBG (cannabigerol) can help alleviate symptoms of an overactive bladder. Using mouse and human bladders, researchers found that CBG reduces spasms, which can relieve symptoms in people suffering from incontinence. The researchers also tested THCV, CBD and CBDV, finding that all of these non-psychoactive cannabinoids improved bladder spasticity, although CBG appears to be the most effective.

Another 2015 study of 84,000 people found that cannabis users were almost twice as likely to develop bladder cancer.

But What about THC?

A 2003 study found that taking whole-plant cannabis extracts alone (With a predominance of THC, CBD, or 1:1 CBD:THC) also improved urinary incontinence compared to patients receiving a placebo, especially looking at patients with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. A further study involving 15 patients with advanced multiple sclerosis found that cannabis extract therapy significantly reduced urinary urge, frequency, and nocturia.

Ultimately, they concluded that “hemp-based extracts are a safe and effective treatment for urinary problems,” at least as far as patients with advanced multiple sclerosis are concerned.

While there is certainly some connection between bladder and cannabis use, the discovery of the mechanism behind this effect remains unknown. Therefore, further research is needed to determine how cannabis use affects bladder health.

(Featured image by Tina Bosse via Unsplash)

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