Cannabis as a treatment for Endometriosis

Published Apr 19, 2019 12:17 p.m. ET
Canadian Press, Chad Hipolito

Endometriosis is a medical condition that affects one in every ten women who fall between the ages of 15 and 49 years of age. This equates to just over 176 million women who will suffer from this condition at some point in their lives. So many women are left un-diagnosed due to the complexity and a lack of understanding about the illness and how it outwardly presents itself. Though marijuana use may not entirely cure the illness, it has shown to have a profound influence on the symptoms of people with Endometriosis and scientists are only now beginning to understand why that is.

Endocannabinoids and Endometriosis

Have you ever heard of the term Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency? If not, you aren’t alone as the medical marijuana community is only beginning to understand the significance of its discovery. Endocannabinoids are part of the human body’s endocannabinoid system which is responsible for regulating mood, pain levels, and many other crucial bodily functions. The endocannabinoid receptors work in conjunction with the endocannabinoids that the body produces naturally to signal when a release of more essential chemicals such as dopamine are released and distributed. The endocannabinoids are incredibly similar to the cannabinoids that are provided by cannabis plants and interact with the human body in the same manner. A lack of endocannabinoids can lead to a host of medical issues and conditions. Scientists now believe that many different diseases including Endometriosis are causedby a lack of cannabinoids within the body.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disease that has no known cure and is an anti-inflammatory condition that has very few options for treatment. Some of the most common symptoms of Endometriosis are chronic pain, cramping, inflammation, and nerve pain which are often debilitating for patients.

How do cannabinoids help to treat the symptoms of Endometriosis?

Medical marijuana is chocked full of cannabinoids like THC and CBD which interact with the body in the very same way natural endocannabinoids do. One study that was conducted and released in the Journal of Biological Chemistry proved that the psychoactive cannabinoid called THC could effectively regulate the body’s natural responses to inflammation. This helps to reduce all inflammation and also reduces the pain that sufferers feel regularly. CBD is the second primary cannabinoid that is naturally produced by cannabis plants and is the non-psychoactive counterpart to THC. It works directly on the inflammation which can relieve a patient's symptoms with little to no side effects. Most traditional pharmaceutical options are laden with adverse side effects and can be highly addictive when taken long term, leading many patients to go without necessary pain relief to live a normal life.

Benefits of marijuana use as a treatment for Endometriosis symptoms

1. Cannabis stimulates healthy cell growth.

A major genetic marker that doctors look for when diagnosing endometriosis is an excessive cell regeneration which can lead to issues with fertility and cause painful episodes in a patient. One study that was conducted by NCBI showed that cannabinoids could reverse this damaging symptom of Endometriosis in up to 80% of patients.

2. THC and CBD will lessen inflammation.

According to clinical research into the efficacy of medical marijuana both primary cannabinoids including THC and CBD can lessen inflammation which in turn reduces the pain that patients with Endometriosis often feel.  

3. THC is a powerful pain reliever.

THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that is naturally produced by cannabis, and it is a potent pain reliever that has statistically shown just as effective as many opioids and narcotic pain relievers, with little to no side effects from a mild high.  

4. Marijuana use reduces symptoms like nausea, cramps, and diarrhea.

Cannabis has shown to effectively reduce nausea, cramps, and diarrhea which are common symptoms of endometriosis, and these symptoms are not condition specific. THC has shown the ability to reduce the same symptoms in cancer and chemotherapy patients as well.

5. THC improves sleep.

THC is a sedative that helps to lull the consumer into a deep sleep that is difficult to be woken from. Lack of sleep is one of the problems that women with endometriosis deals with regularly.

6. Marijuana use enhances libido.  

Studies show that nearly half of all women who are diagnosed with Endometriosis experience pain during intercourse. In turn, many women also report suffering from a lack of sex drive which when combined do not make a very good mix in the bedroom. Small doses of the cannabinoid THC can have a libido boosting effect, while also removing some of the discomforts that are so often associated with sex by women with Endometriosis.

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