Understanding Interstitial Cystitis
Interstitial cystitis, often called IC, is a chronic condition of the bladder that causes symptoms much like a urinary tract infection, such as bladder pain, frequent urination, bladder spasms and abdominal discomfort. It is most common in women, and generally begins in middle age. Ulcers develop on the walls of the bladder, which become extremely sensitive to the presence of urine. Urine tests, cystoscopy to detect changes in bladder tissue and biopsy to confirm these changes are used to diagnose IC. Changes in diet, medication, electrical nerve stimulation and surgery are generally used to treat this condition.
What the Studies Say
A University of Pittsburgh study animal model study suggested that compounds in marijuana could have a beneficial effect on bladder tissue. In this study, a synthetic analog of a THC metabolite was used. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana. The compound was introduced into the rat’s body in a liposome sac. They found that the compound was able to reduce bladder sensitivity in the subjects significantly. The finding indicates that THC-related compounds can offer relief for bladder conditions that may be otherwise difficult to treat.
Marijuana For Treatment of IC
In the state of Illinois, interstitial cystitis is one of the eleven conditions for which medical marijuana has been approved. A survey from the Interstitial Cystitis Network found that a vast majority of individuals suffering from IC, about 63.6 percent, reported that using medical marijuana reduced their symptoms by 50 percent. Eighteen percent reported this it completely relieved their symptoms. Fourteen percent said that it helped their symptoms by at least 25 percent. Although marijuana is still generally smoked to provide relief from pain, other forms are being developed that eliminate the effects of the “high,” yet preserve the medicinal effects.
The pain-relieving and anti-spasmodic effects of cannabis are being investigated as treatments for many diseases and conditions. As more states move toward legalization of marijuana, interstitial cystitis and other illnesses are likely to be included on the lists of approved conditions for which marijuana and its extracts can be legally prescribed.