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Best Strains of Cannabidiol to Manage Interstitial Cystitis Symptoms

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Updated on January 5, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Interstitial cystitis is a rare, yet painful condition that affects three to eight million women in the world — the disease is far more common in females than males. Due to the frequent pain that interstitial cystitis causes, as well as the limited treatment options, many patients are relying on medical marijuana strains with a high content of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, to find relief.

CBD-Dominant Indica Strains for Interstitial Cystitis Pain

Indica strains are renowned for their relaxing effects, which counter the more uplifting impact a sativa strain can have on your day. Due to their calming nature, indica strains are a popular choice when you need pain relief in the evening, whether it’s while you’re watching television or reading before bed.

Some favorite CBD-dominant indica strains for interstitial cystitis pain include:

  • Afghani CBD: Though soothing, this bud offers a spicy flavor with a flowery twist that’ll leave you feeling content.
  • CBD Shark: With a nature-loving, earthy taste of nuts, this strain will make you euphoric and relaxed.
  • CBD Ox: This strain has a CBD content of 90 percent, as well as a sweet and flowery flavor of berries.
  • CBD Critical Cure: The berry-infused flavoring of this strain keeps you comfortable throughout the night.

Ask your local dispensary if they have these indica strains in stock, or if any alternatives are available.

CBD-Dominant Sativa Strains for Interstitial Cystitis Pain

Sativa strains are seen as the opposite of indica strains. They deliver a more cerebral effect that can leave you bursting with creativity and productivity throughout your day. As a result, they’re better for daytime use.

A few CBD-dominant sativa strains for interstitial cystitis pain include:

  • 3D CBD: A woody and flowery flavoring, as well as its uplifting and focused effect, distinguishes this strain.
  • CBD Mango Haze: Mango, pineapple and other fruity scents combine in this stress- and pain-relieving bud.
  • MediHaze: With a strong and sweet, yet woody taste, this strain will have you focused and content.
  • Swiss-Tsunami: A rare, yet favorite strain that offers citrus flavoring and an unmatched CBD richness.

Before testing a new strain for your interstitial cystitis pain, consult with your physician.

CBD-Dominant Hybrid Strains for Interstitial Cystitis Pain

Hybrid strains are considered a compromise between the two primary strains’ effects. Their features, from their smells to healing properties, are influenced by the traits they inherit from the sativa and indica parents, which lets you experience the advantages of both strains.

Popular CBD-dominant hybrid strains for interstitial cystitis pain include:

  • CBD Kush: With a woody flavor from sativa and a spicy scent from indica, this strain offers it all.
  • TJ’s CBD: Named Best High-CBD Flower in 2015, this strain offers relief from stress and pain.
  • CBD Blue Shark: A range of floral flavors, from jasmine to cheese, define this one-of-a-kind strain.
  • Harle-Tsu: While woody and earthy in taste, this strain offers zero psychoactive effects.

If you’re searching for lesser-known hybrid strains, talk to your budtender.

Ways to Administer Medical Marijuana for Interstitial Cystitis

Choosing your strain of medical weed coordinates with deciding your administration method. While some patients prefer smoking or vaporizing their medical marijuana for fast relief from pain, others enjoy consuming an edible or oil for long-lasting interstitial cystitis discomfort. Your region’s laws, as well as your physician’s recommendation, will influence how you administer your medical pot.

Interstitial cystitis is a rare yet painful condition. Many patients are relying on medical marijuana strains with a high content of CBD to find relief.

Natural Care

If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, or UTI, then you understand the pain of interstitial cystitis (IC), a bladder condition marked by urinary urgency, frequency and pelvic pain. But unlike a UTI, which can be cured with antibiotics, interstitial cystitis has no cure, and the millions of (mainly) women who suffer from it are, for the most part, left to deal with the condition on their own.

I know this because I’m one of those women, and my journey with IC, also known as painful bladder syndrome, has been a textbook case of mystery and misdiagnosis.

It started over a decade ago with a urinary tract infection that just wouldn’t go away. For nearly a year, I was in and out of walk-in-clinics and off-and-on antibiotics, but no matter how many prescriptions I downed, the pain, urgency and frequency always returned.

Mysteriously, every time my urine was tested for bacteria – the tell-tale sign of a UTI – it came back clean. Meanwhile, I was getting out of bed to pee constantly, sometimes 20 times a night.

Sometimes I go months without symptoms, and sometimes I find myself in a ‘flare’ that ends in the emergency room, with internal bleeding and swollen kidneys, but still no infection. Why?

No one’s really sure – not my family doctor, not my urologist, and not my rheumatologist, physiatrist, naturopath, physiotherapist, or the numerous other experts I’ve consulted for this, and potentially related conditions. That’s just how it is.

Interstitial cystitis is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning it’s only given after other potential causes – like a UTI, bladder cancer, kidney stones, endometriosis or a sexually transmitted infection – have been ruled out. There’s only one ‘clincher’, the presence of either glomerulations (superficial hemorrhages) or of Hunner’s ulcers (distinctive patches of inflammation) on the bladder wall. I have Hunner’s ulcers, but more than 90 per cent of diagnosed IC patients don’t express either of these so-called classic IC signs.

It’s also possible that IC is not one condition, but a related set of symptoms with a variety of causes. Researchers aren’t even sure what kind of condition it is, but they have a few guesses: the top contenders are that it’s a neurological condition, an autoimmune attack or a reaction to toxic substances or bacteria that haven’t been identified yet, or aren’t picked up by current tests.

What I do know is this: I’m not uncommon. The Interstitial Cystitis Association reports that three to eight million American women and one to four million American men may have IC. They don’t provide Canadian stats, we can guess that the numbers are similar here, affecting up to six per cent of women and almost one per cent of men.

Often IC patients experience other conditions concurrently, most commonly fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and food intolerances, celiac disease, chronic fatigue, lupus, pelvic floor dysfunction, vulvodynia and endometriosis.

Without knowing the exact cause of the condition, it’s hard for doctors to know how to treat it, and every patient responds uniquely to different methods. Classic therapies include dietary modifications, pelvic floor physiotherapy, bladder retraining, antihistamines, antidepressants, antispasmodics and analgesics. Some patients may opt to receive medications directly into the bladder via catheter.

For me, the best treatments so far have been strict dietary modifications and cannabis. The last was a bit of a surprise. I’ve always liked cannabis, and although getting high on weekends was a pleasant distraction from my pain, I never saw it as a practical way to deal with a chronic condition, mainly because I didn’t want to be high every day. It wasn’t until I started taking a regular dose of non-intoxicating CBD oil, which I’d been prescribed for another condition, that I experienced a wonderful side effect – my first extended remission from IC. That prescription helped so much, I switched careers – now I spend my days exploring why cannabis so many conditions, and sharing those stories here.

There are clinical explanations for my positive experience with cannabis, and researchers are just starting to tease them out. One promising finding shows that like other organs, the bladder walls are lined with cannabinoid receptors, the “locks” that allow cannabinoids, or the “keys” to turn.

Cannabis extracts have been shown to help multiple sclerosis patients suffering from incontinence, while more recent studies suggest that the endocannabinoid system – composed of the bodily receptors that process cannabinoids – “is implicated in many gastrointestinal and urinary physiological and pathophysiological processes, including epithelial cell growth, inflammation, analgesia, and motor function.”

The same study goes on to say that modulating the endocannabinoid system might help patients with a range of gastrointestinal and bladder conditions. Its authors write that any drug that can inhibit endocannabinoid system degradation or raise the body’s levels of endocannabinoids -which CBD does – “are promising candidates for gastrointestinal and urinary diseases.”

Early research is promising, but there isn’t enough yet to form a full picture. I’d like to better understand why cannabis seems to reduce my flares, but for now, I know it’s helping, and that’s enough.

Personal anecdotes are no match for peer-reviewed studies, but the fact is there’s still a lot we don’t know about IC. In that respect, it’s not that different from the many painful conditions – largely suffered by women – we know little about, such as fibromyalgia, or endometriosis.

I look forward to increasing research that can explain why I experience pain, and why cannabis helps it. But until that day, I get a certain philosophical satisfaction from the fact that a drug we don’t know that much about seems to help so many conditions we don’t know much about either, including IC.

Living with interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome, feels like having a UTI that never goes away. For me, cannabis helps. ]]>