CANNABIS CULTURE –For centuries, many women have suffered from excruciatingly painful menstrual cramps and gut-wrenching period pains. Those who shared their ordeal were either scoffed at for being a cry baby or were told that the pain was normal. It has taken a really long time for the medical community to understand that extremely painful periods are not normal, and it finally led to the diagnosis of endometriosis.
Though endometriosis was first discovered in 1860, there is still a lack of awareness about the disease in our society. According to a report, one in every ten women suffers from endometriosis. Kerry, who was recently diagnosed with endometriosis, is shocked at how inept the medical community is in dealing with the condition. “Since my early teens, I have been complaining about pelvic cramps and excruciating pain around my uterus. I consulted with multiple doctors, each one assuring that it was just a normal period cramp. I can’t believe how doctors could be so oblivious to endometriosis pain. I shouldn’t have to wait for seven years to be diagnosed correctly.”
Firstly, we need to understand what happens to the body in endometriosis. Only then we can understand the effects of CBD on endometriosis.
In Endometriosis, a layer of tissue called the endometrium, which covers the inner walls of the uterus, starts growing outside of it. This endometrial tissue attaches itself to ovaries, fallopian tube, and other organs. During menstruation, this layer of tissue breaks down after reacting with the hormones produced by the body, forming an amalgamation of blood and tissues. Unlike the tissues shed from the uterus, the mixture of tissues and blood outside the uterus has no way to be ejected from the body. And as the body tries to absorb these dead tissues, it results in an eruption of abdominal cramps and pelvic pain.
Conventional Treatment methods
Even though endometriosis is not life-threatening, it is a chronic condition with no cure. Over the years, medical professionals have tried several conventional treatment methods such as:
Hormone Therapy, which involves weakening the intensity of menstruation or reducing the number of menstrual cycles. It has seldom proven to be effective in pain relief.
Surgery, which involves endometrium excision from ovaries and other organs. The drawback of this treatment is that there is a high chance that the endometrium tissue might grow out of the uterus again. Thus, surgery is not a viable option for long-term relief.
Painkillers, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, are prescribed as the most common form of treatment for Endometriosis. But it hardly helps in pain relief, and extreme doses could lead to severe side effects and some can even be fatal.
Even before cannabis was legalized in Canada, Cara Sebastian(name changed) used to buy illegal weed to help her with Endometriosis. “I had read somewhere on the internet that cannabis works like magic on endometriosis pain. Having been on pain meds for years with no real signs of relief, I decided to try out weed. I didn’t care if it was illegal. I just needed the pain to stop”. Cara has been using CBD for years now and is quite happy with the results. “ I can’t remember the last time I had an excruciatingly painful period. CBD has definitely helped in keeping my Endometriosis in check”.
Jessica Moran, Director of Marketing and Communications, Strainprint, feels that the effectiveness of cannabis in dealing with endometriosis symptoms is encouraging women to branch out from traditional forms of treatment. She stated, ”One of the most painful symptoms is the pelvic pain. I have spoken to a bunch of endometriosis patients who had to be hospitalized or given powerful sedatives to treat this pain!”
Apart from offering efficient pain relief from cramps, CBD, in combination with THC, combats other endometriosis symptoms like nausea, low libido, and depression. ”A high CBD product
– specifically a 1:10 THC:CBD ratio is reported to work best in treating nausea. According to our data, Aphria’s Tremblant (Treasure Island) is reported to have an efficacy of 84% in managing nausea!”, said Jessica.
One of the prime reasons why CBD is effective in treating endometriosis is the presence of the endocannabinoid system in the human body. Researchers believe that an imbalance in the endocannabinoid system can be detrimental to the female reproductive system, and can lead to the growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. The intake of phytocannabinoids and CBD can help in overcoming the endocannabinoid imbalance. Here’s how CBD fights the endometrial growth outside the uterus:
- Curbs cell migration: One way to keep endometriosis under check is by stopping the endometrial cells from migrating out of the uterus. The endometrium is generally made up of a collection of nerve receptors that could spark the process of cell migration if triggered. CBD reacts with these nerve receptors and blocks their activation, which in turn curbs the endometrial cells from moving out of the uterus. Women, who opt for surgical excision of the endometrial layer, can find long-term pain relief if they subscribe to CBD therapy. Since CBD regulates cell migration, more women are looking at CBD as a means to prevent the onset of endometriosis.
- Cuts off the nutrients required for tissue growth: The more rapid the growth of endometrial cells on organs, the more damage it can cause to their outer layers. To multiply exponentially, these cells require nutrients that get delivered due to the development of a dense network of blood vessels. CBD cuts off the nutrients supply to the endometrial cells by stopping the excessive formation of blood vessels. Without the nutrients, the cell growth stagnates, subsiding the pain around the pelvic region.
- Stunts nerve growth: The endometrial layer is made up of nerve cells, with nerve ends interconnected to each other. These nerve ends transmit the sensation of pain across the organ. However, using CBD can stunt the growth of nerve cells, leading to a disjointed network of nerve receptors. Thus, CBD helps in curbing the pain from radiating across the pelvic area.
- Prevents cell multiplication: We just discussed how CBD stops cell growth by cutting off nutrients. Another way the CBD prevents cell multiplication is by restoring the imbalance in the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids are a part of the immune system, responsible for destroying any cell growth anomalies. People suffering from endometriosis can’t fight rapid cell multiplication due to endocannabinoid imbalance. Thus, CBD therapy provides the much-needed endocannabinoids in the immune system and helps in fighting cell multiplication.
In the past few years, scientists have started serious research in finding an effective treatment for endometriosis. While it is a step in the right direction, medical practitioners around the world need to explore the effects of CBD therapy on endometriosis. With many women turning to CBD for pain relief, it is high time that the medical community acknowledged CBD as a viable option for treating endometriosis.