Women who have endometriosis are often ignored or told there is no solution but surgery and suffering. Cannabis could offer a way to manage the symptoms.
- Medicinal Cannabis can help to manage the symptoms of endometriosis such as pain and nausea
- Research found that THC may actually slow or stop the growth of endometrial tissue
Healthcare for women has long been hard to access with poor outcomes. In the 5th Century (BC, because this has been going on for thousands of years), male medical people just called women hysterical every time they experienced pain or health problems. The term ‘hysteria’ literally translates as ‘wandering uterus’, because all uterus-owners know that their uterus roaming around is the cause of all their problems.
The all-male medical community decided women were ‘too difficult’ to study, as periods made the results of studies too hard to determine. So only men (and male mice) were used for all medical studies and developments in healthcare. After all, scientists know it’s vital to eliminate variables, including half the global population. Which means for the longest time, there was no research into any female-centric health issues. It was only in the 1990’s that laws were changed to include women in medical studies.
Because studies were never carried out on female bodies, period related pain didn’t exist and was deemed a figment of imagination. Take a Panadol and you’ll be fine. Sadly, even now, female-specific health issues are not studied as much, and women often suffer poor outcomes in the medical system. So if you’ve been to the doctor again and again about endometriosis, and gotten nowhere, that’s not uncommon.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is when endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, usually in the pelvic organs (but not always, it can wander around, after all). There’s no real ‘cause’ or reason for it, it ‘could’ be genetic, and there’s no cure. The contributors of endometriosis may include (but is not limited to):
- Retrograde menstrual flow, where tissue shed during the period flows into other parts of the body
- An imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone
- Immune system problems
The symptoms of endometriosis are vast and considerably impact the quality of life for the sufferer. They include:
- Painful periods
- Painful intercourse
- Painful urination or bowel movements
- Excessive bleeding during menstruation
- Gut related issues such as bloating or diarrhoea, usually during period time
- Low libido
There is no cure, and generally people are prescribed painkillers and contraceptives. It’s not uncommon for the patient to undergo surgery to remove the endometriosis tissue, or the organs affected by the growths. Worst case scenario, a female may undergo a hysterectomy, removing the uterus and/or the ovaries. This can cause ongoing harm and problems, putting a young person into early menopause, and stopping their ability to have children; a drastic measure.
However, cannabis is showing promising signs at treating the symptoms of endometriosis.
Endometriosis and Medicinal Cannabis
There are a few ways that cannabis is being studied in relation to endometriosis.
Endometriosis Pain Relief
We know that cannabis can be excellent for pain relief, and so many women are turning to CBD for management of endometriosis pain. A study showed that those taking cannabis reported a drop in pain levels, allowing them to cease taking other medications (63.1% drop in taking nonopioid analgesia, 66.1% in opioid analgesia). A study found that endometriosis lesions may specifically respond to cannabinoids as pain relief.
Another study shows that there are different levels of pain relief dependent on if it’s ingested, inhaled, or topical, and if CBD and THC are used together.
Endometriosis Anxiety and Depression Relief
The same study also noted that users of cannabis reduced the need for antidepressants and antianxiety medications. CBD can help some people with depression and anxiety. Combined with the reduction in pain from endometriosis, this could explain why there’s reduced (28.2% antidepressant and 47.9% antianxiety medications) need for medications. It makes sense if pain decreases, the patient has a better quality of life, and they are happier.
Endometriosis Gut and Digestion Problems
The endocannabinoid system is implicated in the regulation of food intake, how long it takes for the stomach to empty, nausea, intestine inflammation, and a range of other gastric functions. A large meta study showed that cannabinoid supplementation can help, alongside other therapies, to provide relief of symptoms.
However, over time and with heavy use, cannabis can cause negative effects, such as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, with repeated bouts of vomiting and stomach pain. This is why it’s important to be prescribed cannabis by a professional, with incremental doses building up to a point where it’s helpful in treating the problem but without harmful side effects.
Could Cannabis Stop Endometriosis Growths from Forming?
There is some theoretical research looking into cannabis for treatment of the cause of endometriosis. Due to the wide ranging implications of the endocannabinoid system, some scientists are beginning to look into THC specifically, as it seems to slow or stop the growth of endometrial cysts. This is incredibly exciting research with huge outcomes for endometriosis sufferers everywhere.
Is Cannabis the Answer for Your Endometriosis Symptoms?
Because there is evidence that cannabis could help alleviate the symptoms of endometriosis, it could be an option for you. Due to the likelihood that the ratio of CBD to THC affects the effectiveness of treatment, it is advised you speak to professionals rather than self-treat. You may find more relief from having the right strength and quantities of treatment. Contact us at The Pain Clinic to chat about the options available to treat your endometriosis.