What is it about?

The cannabis plant (or marijuana) contains many natural molecules, called cannabinoids. The two most important cannabinoids are CBD and THC. These molecules have a variety of effects on the human body, including lowering inflammation, interacting with the immune system, relieving pain, and suppressing nausea. They are now used for a range of symptoms and diseases. In this review, we explore the potential role of cannabinoid-containing medicines for the relief of symptoms in people with kidney failure. We find that there are many reasons to think that cannabinoids might be useful to treat itchiness, restless legs, pain, nausea and anorexia, all of which are common in those with kidney failure. But, there are no good studies testing these medicines in people with kidney failure and we cannot be sure that they are safe in this group of people. We cannot yet recommend cannabinoids for people with kidney failure, but we do encourage researchers to do the studies that are needed to find out if they can be of use.

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Why is it important?

Cannabinoids, in the form of cannabis oil and other cannabis products are becoming more and more widely available. There are many claims made about the usefulness of cannabis products for treating a variety of symptoms. Our review is an important reference point for anyone with kidney failure interested in trying cannabis products. It is also a useful guide for doctors wishing to ensure that they give their patients the most up to date advice.


This review was fascinating to research and write. As a kidney and palliative care specialists, we know that people with kidney disease suffer from many symptoms and often struggle to get relief. We are looking forward to conducting our own studies to find out if cannabinoids can be used safely and effectively.

Brendan Smyth
University of Sydney

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Cannabinoids for Symptom Management in Patients with Kidney Failure, Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, January 2022, American Society of Nephrology,
DOI: 10.2215/cjn.11560821.
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