(HealthDay News) — New research suggests that synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or Spice, might harm the kidneys. The findings were scheduled for presentation at the National Kidney Foundation meeting in Dallas last week.
According to the foundation, synthetic marijuana products can be found online and at shops — often sold as bath additives, incense, and air fresheners — but they are comprised of herbal plant material that has been sprayed with chemicals that mimic tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the principal component of natural marijuana.
“Common side effects in patients abusing these agents include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, seizures, and hallucinations,” Manuel Fernandez Palmer, M.D., of the Methodist Dallas Health Center, said in a news release from the National Kidney Foundation. “Theories suggest that the compounds may have harmful heavy metal residues, as these are known to affect different parts of the body, including the kidneys.”
Fernandez Palmer presented the results of one of two recent studies linking use of the drugs to kidney damage. “While there is no definitive proof that synthetic cannabinoids were the cause of the kidney injury, these observational studies strongly support that there is a correlation between the two,” Fernandez Palmer said. “Our work should help strengthen the case that these agents should be recognized by the medical community as a possible cause of reversible acute kidney injury, and that further testing should be made on the different effects that these substances produce on the body.”