On January 1, 2014 the state of Illinois will become the 20th state in the USA to allow for the use of medical marijuana (MMJ) and, to our surprise, IC is specifically covered for use. Patients will be allowed to purchase 2.5 ounces every two weeks. There will be a 1% tax, as there is for other pharmaceuticals in the state. Every police district will have just ONE cultivation site and no more than 60 licensed dispensaries in the entire state.
This comes as very welcome news to the IC community. While some consider the use of MMJ harmful, a multitude of research studies have shown that it can be very helpful in reducing pain in several medical conditions, including cancer, HIV, crohn’s disease and more. The bladder contains cannabinoid receptors which IC researchers are studying as a potential target for new IC treatments.
For the past three years, the ICN has conducted a survey on the use of medical marijuana in patients with IC, OAB, prostatitis, pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic pain. 73.8% of patients participating (313 out of 428) reported that they have used MMJ in the past six months to help improve their symptoms, pain and/or discomfort. 12% of participants reported that they have a prescription for it, while 57.7% use it without a prescription. Another 24.9% report that they do not use it but would try it if they could get a legal prescription. Only 5.4% reported that they would never use marijuana.
Overall, the results of the ICN survey were positive and encouraging for both pain relief, muscle relaxation and symptom management. 71.8% of participants using MMJ report that it was helpful in reducing their flare symptoms.
- 18.7% (64) reported that MMJ made their symptoms go away completely
- 63.8% (219) reported that MMJ reduced their symptoms by 50%
- 12.2% (42) reported that their symptoms improved by 25%
- 18% reported that their symptoms did not improve
PAIN – MMJ was found most effective for the treatment of pain.
- 33% reported that their pain had completely improved
- 50.3% reported that their pain was reduced by 50%
- 11.4% reported that their pain was reduced by 25%
- 5.3% reported that their pain symptoms did not improve.
FREQUENCY – Urinary frequency symptoms responded well to treatment for 75% of patients participating.
- 16.7% reported that their frequency had completely improved/li>
- 39.4% reported that their frequency had improved by 50%
- 22.4% reported that their frequency had improved by 25%
- 21.5% reported that their frequency did not improve
URGENCY – MMJ was found to be helpful for the troubling and often difficult to treat symptom of urgency.
- 20.5% of patients reported that their urgency had completely improved
- 36.9% reported that their urgency had improved by 50%
- 25.1% reported that their urgency had improved by 25%
- 17.5% reported that their urgency did not improve
PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION / TENSION – Not surprisingly, MMJ was found to be helfpul in the reduction of pelvic floor tension.
- 31% reported that their PFD completely improved
- 41.8% reported that their PFD improved by 50%
- 14.6% reported that their PFD improved by 25%
- 12.7% reported that their symptoms did not improve
SLEEP QUALITY – MMJ helped improve sleep quality by reducing trips to the bathroom.
- 37% reported that they could sleep through the night
- 40.6% reported that they could sleep normally and only got up once or twice to use the restroom
- 16.5% reported that they sleep better than before MMJ but still got up several times to urinate
- 5/9% reported that it did not improve their sleep quality.
Of course, if MMJ is illegal in your state or country, then we cannot endorse its use. However, if you live in an area where MMJ is supported, we think this is worth talking to your physician about.
Moser, W. Seven Things You Need to Know About Illinois’s New Medical Marijuana Law, Chicago Magazine, September 2013
Osborne, J. Medical Marijuana And The Bladder, IC Optimist, Interstitial Cystitis Network Summer/Fall 2010