Medical cannabis may help your Interstitial Cystitis symptoms. Learn more about how some patients have found symptom relief for their painful bladder. Has anyone tried CBD oil for interstitial cystitis
Cannabis May Be a Treatment Option for Interstitial Cystitis
Even though Interstitial Cystitis (IC), a very painful bladder disease, is not specifically named on state medical marijuana card requirements, many patients are able to get relief from cannabis. Many states do list persistent muscle spasms and chronic pain as qualifying medical conditions, which are the major symptoms of interstitial cystitis. However, an individualized consultation with a qualified physician is necessary to make an appropriate determination.
According to the Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA), IC patients have a higher chance of developing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), endometriosis , vulvodynia, fibromyalgia , pelvic floor dysfunction, and migraines ( 6 ), with many of these disorders also qualifying for a medical marijuana card.
Considerations for Using Cannabis for Interstitial Cystitis
Since there is not much research about the delivery methods of cannabis when it comes to IC, it is important to talk about smoking. Smoking it is typically the primary delivery method that patients with IC choose, but it is important to be cautious. Much like smoking cigarettes, smoking the plant can irritate the bladder and cause other health problems ( 4 ).
Another promising method for using marijuana for bladder and pelvic pain for women is to use it vaginally in lubricants or vaginal suppositories. A woman’s reproductive tract is lined with mucosa and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that can quickly absorb cannabis ( 7 ). However, the long-term and reproductive effects of cannabinoids are still unknown.
Both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS can be found in the cells that make up the bladder, making marijuana a good potential treatment option for bladder pain as seen in animal studies that mimic IC and bladder pain ( 9 ).
By successfully activating the CB2 receptors, researchers were able to reduce bladder inflammation , indicating that the CB2 receptor is a potential pathway for reducing bladder pain in humans ( 9 ).
In another study, researchers were able to reduce both bladder inflammation and urinary frequency in mice through the activation of the CB2 receptors ( 10 ). This supports the need for similar studies in humans.
For more information on how CB2 receptors and the ECS works, please see our page on endocannabinoids here .
Recommendations for Relieving Bladder Pain with Cannabis
According to Dr. Curtis Nickel, a urologist—who prescribes cannabis for urologic chronic pelvic pain—vaping, tinctures, and edibles are all considered preferential to his patients and are easier to measure dosages with over smoking it. He generally recommends starting “low and go slow” and that patients start with a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. He encourages patients to carefully experiment with dosing to get the desired effect ( 3 ). Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two most popular cannabinoids, or chemical compounds, found in marijuana.
Dr. Nickel cites the following as average dosages to work up to depending on the individual ( 3):
- Average doses of smoking and vaporizing is 1-3 g total per day
- A 10 mg dose of either THC or CBD is reasonable. Patients can start with 10 mg and then increase by increments of 5mg.
- Patients are advised to make their own edibles to control the concentration
- Oils are the most potent form of marijuana, and it is recommended not to exceed the equivalent of 1g of decarboxylated (or activated) oil a day
Dosage is particular to individual biology and other factors. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to speak with your doctor before trying medical marijuana for IC or other conditions. The doses above do not reflect beginning doses for most patients, but serve as potential guidelines of ideal doses. It is best to start with smaller doses and work yourself up to larger doses in order to minimize psychoactive effects.
There is no cure for IC, but there are many medications, including medicinal marijuana that may help reduce IC symptoms. Many of these symptoms below show anecdotally positive results from medicinal marijuana use, but they haven’t been researched directly in relationship to IC ( 4 ). A small, informal survey done by the Interstitial Cystitis Network (ICN) shows that several IC patients reported varied relief from the following ( 4 ):
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle tension
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Urgent and frequent urination
- Improvements in sleep relief
- Calm IC flare-ups
It is very important to speak with the doctor or health care provider treating your IC or bladder pain, because of the complexity of making and managing the diagnosis, and because the huge variety of medications prescribed may cause drug interactions with cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabis products purchased at a dispensary. You should never delay medical care, self-diagnose, or self-treat any condition, especially painful ones. Marijuana may also carry other side effects and unknown, long-term risks. Other relevant considerations from the ICA can be found here ( 3 ).
The Different Types of Interstitial Cystitis
A common misconception about Interstitial Cystitis is that it only affects women, and that could not be further from the truth—with 1 to 4 million men diagnosed with the disease. Many people who have IC have symptoms that began as children, but the numbers of children affected have not been studied ( 1 ).
Some people with IC have pelvic pain, bladder pressure, urinary urgency, and urinary frequency at all times, while for others, these symptoms come and go from day-to-day or month-to-month ( 6 ). Because these symptoms vary so much in everyone, a few different types of IC have been discovered, in addition to end stage IC ( 8 ):
- Non-ulcerative IC: Patients have pinpoint hemorrhages, also known as glomerations, in the bladder walls. They do not experience bleeding, but still have bladder pressure and pain.
- Ulcerative IC: Five percent of patients have this form of IC that is characterized by Hunner’s ulcers, which are distinctive, red areas of inflammation on the bladder wall that bleed.
- End stage IC: End stage IC is characterized by persistent symptoms lasting more than two years, and patients typically have hard bladders from the inflammation. Having a hard bladder means that these patients have smaller bladder capacity and extreme pain.
What Interstitial Cystitis Patients Think About Cannabis
According to Jill Osborne, the founder of the Interstitial Cystitis Network (ICA), patients using their network have achieved promising results from using cannabis to improve their pain and decrease urinary frequency. The ICA also conducted a survey about patients using it to treat their IC.
“Interstitial cystitis and pelvic pain patients have used medical marijuana for years. Several years ago, we did a study on MMJ and IC with 492 patients reporting that they have used it. 17% reported that it resolved their symptoms completely, while 64% reported that it reduced their symptoms by 50%. It improved frequency and urgency for 80% of patients. It was most effective for pain management…with 32% reporting that their pain resolved while using it. Most used it daily or weekly. 92% say that they will continue to use it,” Osborne said (4).
Note: Veriheal does not intend to give this as professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self-diagnose or prescribe treatment based on the information provided on this page. Always consult a physician before making any decision on the treatment of a medical condition.
1. Interstitial Cystitis Association 4 to 12 Million May Have IC. (2020, April 28). Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.ichelp.org/about-ic/what-is-interstitial-cystitis/4-to-12-million-may-have-ic/ .
3. Nickel J. C. (2018). Medical marijuana for urologic chronic pelvic pain. Canadian Urological Association journal = Journal de l’Association des urologues du Canada , 12 (6 Suppl 3), S181–S183. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6040614/ .
4. Osborne, Jill. (2017, January 31). Is It Time to Consider Medical Marijuana for Bladder & Pelvic Pain? Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.ic-network.com/is-it-time-to-consider-medical-marijuana-for-bladder-pelvic-pain/ .
5. Rahnama’i, M. S., Javan, A., Vyas, N., Lovasz, S., Singh, N., Cervigni, M., Pandey, S., Wyndaele, J. J., & Taneja, R. (2020). Bladder Pain Syndrome and Interstitial Cystitis Beyond Horizon: Reports from the Global Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Society (GIBS) Meeting 2019 Mumbai – India. Anesthesiology and pain medicine , 10 (3), e101848. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32944561/ .
6. Symptoms of IC – Interstitial Cystitis Association. (2020, April 28). Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.ichelp.org/about-ic/symptoms-of-ic/ .
7. Walker, O. S., Holloway, A. C., & Raha, S. (2019). The role of the endocannabinoid system in female reproductive tissues. Journal of Ovarian Research, 12 (1). doi:10.1186/s13048-018-0478-9 .
Has anyone tried CBD oil for interstitial cystitis
I am seriously thinking about it. Even if just for the calming effect. But I believe it could also help with pain.
I use it and have found it useful as part of an overall approach to IC. By itself, I don’t think it would do enough to address the pain, but it helps along with other things. I like Mary’s Medicinals concentrated CBD oil. In my state, you can only buy it at a medical marijuana dispensary, but it has the best taste of any of the tinctures I have tried. It is in cinnamon oil.
I haven’t tried it yet but I just ordered some. Hope it comes next week. I am not taking any narcotic pain meds right now. The DH aloe has been really helpful for me but some days I have been having some increased pain and it can sometimes take a little while for the aloe to kick in. I am hoping this will do the trick.
I am one of those unfortunate ones that cannot tolerate ingesting CBD. My stomach revolts, my bladder screams. But, one of the participants in this forum suggested a few months ago that I rub it on my lower abdomen, which I did. It does work for me very well. On days that there is no or slight pain only, I use it before I got to bed. On bad days when I have lots of pain, I rub it twice or even three times. It definitely helps with my pain. Interestingly enough, it does not work for my stomach pains, i.e. I massage it all over my abdomen, no pain relief there.
I’ve used CBD oil for well over a year for arthritis pain works wonderfully. Absolutely worthless for my IC. I live in Oklahoma and we recently voted in medical marijuana, thinking about adding THC to the CBD in the future when the shops really get ramped up. I’ve heard that even microdosing with THC will help IC.
I am eating a CBD “gummy” and applying CBD oil in combo (I live in Oregon!), which usually eases pain of the day. Oral CBD tincture does not help, but like BerthaA, I apply the CBD oil directly to my pelvic area.
I’ve been taking CBD under the tongue for weeks but haven’t noticed any amazing difference in my pain levels. Interesting to hear about the oil’s topical use. I might try that as I think it’s giving me heartburn/ reflux. No doubt my stomach is suffering from the long term use of pain meds. I definitely think everyone should try CBD as it’s natural and could give the lucky few fantastic relief. Best wishes from Ireland
Hi MsOnnie, I have the same problem with heartburn and reflux. I thought I was unique that no one else suffers from the same problem, but it seems it is more widespread than I thought. That is why I use my CBD (plus I use it with THC too) topically and it solved the problem if ingesting it.
I started using CBD oil about 6 months ago. I started with the 100mg strength, but discovered quickly that for ME, I needed a stronger strength (4,000mg). I have been on Opiods for IC for several years, so think the CBD oil wasn’t as effective for me because of that. But have heard others say it has helped them a lot.
CBD oil is a godsend for both my IC and neuropathy but a $40 bottle barely lasts two weeks so not affordable for me.
Were did you find it for $40.00. I paid over $100.00 for a small bottle.
I live in Washington So CBD is available in the weed stores,Smoke shops and recently Bartell Drug. Approximately the same price in all the places I have tried.
I have been helped by taking desert harvest freeze-dried aloe vera and Cysta-Q every day and usually I do well. I take Prelief before anything acidic and try to avoid acidic foods and drink as much as possible. I was curious about CBD oil by itself or with a small amount of THC and if anyone had gotten relief from it. I have a very sensitive stomach, IBS, so am glad to read about the topical option. Thanks!
It helps my back pain but make my ic worse. I’m in so much pain with my bladder I can’t take it.
Yes. No help at all. Maybe if it had THC in it, but illegal in my state
I took one dropper full in 12 ounces of water and sipped on it for a couple of hours. To my astonishment, my pain was all gone and didn’t return for 2 days. I was shocked. My primary care doctor along with my electrophysiologist ( I had a heart ablation a couple of years ago) said they weren’t in favor of me taking it as it hasn’t been studied to see how it interacts with Eliquis, Metoprolol, Lorsartan, and Levothyroxine—the four meds I take. I pretty tempted to get some as this pain really grates on me.
I take CBD oil for another chronic pain condition and it has been a miracle for that, but unfortunately it hasn’t done anything for my IC. Mine does not have THC in it, I’d be interested to see if that would help but I’m in a stupid state where it’s illegal.
I use it. I don’t experience pain, just more frequency/awareness of bladder/pelvic floor dysfunction. It helps me to relax, that relaxes my pelvic floor, and it reduces my frequency. Typically I need about a 30 mg dose. Some CBD’s are better than others. You might have to try a few. It is legal now in BC. But you can’t get it in the stores until October 2019.
What type of CBD did you use? I seem to understand that the CBD full spectrum would be the most appropriate or one that contains some THC. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience. My mother suffers IC but does not speak English (we are Spanish speaking) and I find much better information about this disease in English. Regards
I thought CBD oil taken by mouth or under the tongue might have caused more heartburn and IC pain too. I have found out that if something causes more heartburn, it can also cause more urethra burning (IC) Another note, Aloe Vera helped my IC pain for 5 years. then it stopped. I realized it was because I had very low estrogen and needed a transdermal supplement. When I started to purchase Estrogen 5.0 from biolabs, my pain got back under control, but I still have to watch my diet and know what to eat and not. I may try to use the Desert Harvest aloe too, but it is so expensive, at the recommended dose and it can take 2-3 months before you notice a difference. With the Estrogen cream, I rub on the inside of my arms daily, it is $34 and it lasts me about 2 1/2 months or more. That is less than $14-$17 a month and aloe vera was astronomical by comparison. This estrogen made from Biolabs is on Amazon. It is made from wild yams, not pregnant horses urine. It is safe and can prevent breast cancer. Also this is Estriol, the kind of estrogen that is considered the weaker of the 3 estrogens, so 5.0 is probably sounding higher than the prescription estrogen, but in actuality it isn’t. If I do not use it, my bladder burns, my bladder goes into spasms, and my bladder feels like it is going to fall out on the floor. Warning though, you should be 40+ before using it and not be pregnant. During pregnancy, Estriol bathes the unborn child in the womb.