CBD, an Effective Treatment for Endometriosis?

by Alfred van der Heide
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For around 176 million women all over the world, endometriosis is an unfortunate and very painful ordeal that they go through monthly.

Endometriosis is a condition that affects many women of reproductive age. It is basically the abnormal growth of endometrial cells, which are cells that are usually found lining the womb.

Women with endometriosis have endometrial tissue growing outside of their uterus. This extra tissue is found around the pelvic organs, so the fallopian tubes and ovaries as well as the bowels and bladder.

When the woman undergoes her menstrual cycle, these extra endometrial cells also start to bleed. Because the blood from these excess cells has no way to exit the body, this results in pain and inflammation every time that they have a period. In extreme cases, scar tissue ends up forming around the affected organs.

Endometriosis affects around one of 10 women who are of reproductive age for as long as they menstruate. So this means that every month, these women experience heavy periods accompanied by excruciating pain.

Not only that but, if a woman suffering from endometriosis wants to have a baby, her condition could dash her dreams as severe cases of endometriosis can cause infertility in women.

A monthly problem to endure

woman in pain

Most women who are eventually diagnosed with endometriosis start realizing that something is wrong when they start getting their periods.

When a teenage girl starts having menstrual periods, they are often told that any pain or problems that they might have is merely “period problems” and that everyone feels slightly bad on their period. Girls are advised to use various CBD products when they encounter issues like these.

However, girls and women with endometriosis tend to suffer greater and more debilitating period pains then others. They also often experience heavier periods with more bleeding then their peers.

One of the first things that are done to try and ease the pain and suffering of women with endometriosis is to put them on the pill. However, for some patients, the pill merely shortens their period and shortens the period in which they are in pain, it does not eliminate it.

Gender bias when seeking pain relief

Many women with endometriosis often find it difficult to get treatment or pain relief for their condition.

As we mentioned, most teenage girls who complain are told “period pain” is normal and their complaints are thus dismissed. If a girl or a woman insists that there is something wrong, she could then be diagnosed with endometriosis. Study reveal that sleep quality of women with endometriosis is associated with poorer quality of life, more depressive symptoms, and bladder pain syndrome.

However, even an official diagnosis could be dismissed as something that can’t really be treated. They are just put on the pill or, if there is really a lot of endometrial tissue, could get some surgically removed.

A recurring problem

Even if some of the endometrial cells are removed via surgery, this only provides a woman with temporary relieve. Endometrial cells almost always grow back after surgery and the woman once again finds herself suffering extremely painful periods.

Since there is no permanent solution, many women opt to not have surgery and try and use medication to live with their condition.

Standard medical treatments for endometriosis include over-the-counter pain medication, like paracetamol or NSAIDs, along with progesterone, usually taken in the form of a contraceptive pill.

The effect of CBD and Cannabis on endometriosis

One promising treatment to relieve the pain of women with endometriosis is cannabis and CBD oil. In Australia, many women with endometriosis use CBD oil or cannabis to relieve their endometriosis pain and find it very effective.

CBD's effect on the mind.

CBD’s effect on the mind.

Women with endometriosis take CBD oil for their endometriosis pain in the form of CBD tinctures and lube. They can also take in CBD oil through vaping or by taking edibles. To overcome this problem women can use Dab rigs and bongs. Even though it is recommended that you use a dab rig to smoke concentrates, you can still modify a bong for this purpose.

CBD’s ability to provide pain relief in endometriosis patients is usually attributed to its ability to activate the TRPV1 vanilloid receptor. This means that it desensitizes it so it doesn’t respond to pain anymore and provides overall pain relief.

Aside from pain relief, however, it’s believed that there might be other therapeutic benefits that cannabis can have against endometriosis. Both dab rigs and bongs are a lot similar. Even though it is recommended that you use a dab rig to smoke concentrates, you can still modify a bong for this purpose.

Endometriosis is basically the case of cells improperly multiplying, migrating, and growing in areas where they shouldn’t – outside of the womb.

The growth of cells is controlled by the endocannabinoid systems, so many believe that endometriosis; with its uncontrolled cell growth could be the result of a malfunction in the endocannabinoid system.

According to Dr. Ethan Russo, director of CReDO Science, a dysfunction with two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, could explain why endometrial cells grow unchecked.

Russo pointed out that a 2017 study showed that using drugs that stimulate CB1 and CB2 resulted in a decrease in the growth and proliferation of endometrial tissue. It actually promoted the breakdown of endometrial tissue.

Since cannabis has THC, which binds with CB1 and CB2, it is possible that cannabis use could limit the growth of endometrial cells. This was actually the case with a recent study using mice.

While there needs to be more study about the ability of CBD to break down endometrial cells in human women, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that the use of CBD does provide genuine pain relief for women with endometriosis.

“There are multiple components of cannabis that can be put together in the right preparation to treat endometriosis,” said Dr. Russo.

Russo is especially enthusiastic about CBD and cannabis for pain relief for endometriosis due to the fact that it is a natural substance that doesn’t have addictive properties, unlike chemical pain relief options.

“Throughout human history, plants have been medicine,” said Russo. “We’ve developed these new chemical entities – drugs – but a lot of these were related directly or indirectly to plan-based substances.”

Plant-based substances, such as CBD which is a compound created and extracted from a plant, are not only often effective but they also often have fewer side effects. Unlike medication that uses synthetic molecules in which our bodies may have trouble breaking down and could result in unwanted side effects.

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