How To Use Medical Marijuana for Treating Endometriosis
- Patients across the country are having success treating endometriosis with medical marijuana.
- Endometriosis pain is caused when the lining of the uterus grows onto other reproductive organs.
- Cannabinoids found in medical marijuana help treat chronic pain in some patients by reducing inflammation and modulating pain response.
- Cannabinoids can be applied locally at the site of pain using topical preparations or used systemically via oral and inhaled delivery methods.
Can medical marijuana help treat endometriosis? Many medical marijuana doctors are now recommending cannabis to their female patients to relieve the pain that often accompanies this chronic medical condition. Several states require patients to obtain a medical marijuana card in order to shop at medical marijuana dispensaries. Others allow all adults 21 and older to legally buy marijuana without a card.
Endometriosis pain is caused when the lining of the uterus grows outside of the womb cavity affecting reproductive organs and causing cramping and pain. The conditions can also cause infertility, anxiety, depression, and even cognitive difficulties such as memory loss.
Traditional treatment options for endometriosis include surgery and hormone therapy. Doctors often recommend progesterone cream to endometriosis patients in an attempt to slow the growth of abnormal endometrial tissue. However, hormone therapies such as this can have long-term side effects.
Cannabis is increasingly being seen as a safe and natural remedy for pain. It’s completely non-toxic, non-addictive, and has very few unwanted side effects when used properly.
How does medical marijuana help treat endometriosis pain?
Compounds found in medical marijuana called cannabinoids help to reduce chronic pain and cramping in some patients suffering from endometriosis by reducing inflammation and relaxing muscles. Cannabinoids also have the ability to modulate the brain’s pain response in some endometriosis patients suffering from chronic pain.
The human body possesses a signaling system that helps to control a wide array of bodily functions. Certain molecules produced by the brain interact with receptors on cells. When the brain senses an imbalance, it produces these signaling molecules in order to communicate instructions to the rest of the body.
One class of signaling chemicals is known as endocannabinoids. These are cannabinoids that are produced naturally by the human body. The entire system is referred to as the human endocannabinoid system or ECS.
Compounds found in medical marijuana known as phytocannabinoids have the ability to mimic the effects of endocannabinoids such as initiating and extinguishing inflammatory response and pain response. Cannabis is also effective at relieving anxiety, depression, and cognitive issues in some patients.
Studies on medical marijuana for endometriosis
A recent study looked at the effects of using cannabinoids to treat mice with endometrial implants in their pelvis. Another team studied the effects of THC on the endometrium inside and outside of the womb. The results of both studies were promising. Researchers in one study found that mice with endometriosis treated with THC for 32 days had smaller endometrial growths.
In her report, Alejandra Escudero-Lara, a PhD student at the University Pompeu Fabra of Barcelona, wrote: “Together, our findings show that THC limits the development and symptoms of endometriosis in an experimental model, and highlight the interest of conducting further research to ensure the safety and beneficial effects of this treatment in women with endometriosis.”
Also, according to numerous other pain studies, cannabinoids including THC and CBD, and others such as CBG and CBN offer anti-inflammatory properties that may provide relief for patients with conditions that cause inflammation.
Links to these and several other studies can be found below.
More research is underway. Clinical trials have been initiated at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Spain to evaluate the benefits of medical marijuana for women suffering from endometriosis.
How to treat endometriosis with medical marijuana
There are two ways that endometriosis patients use medical marijuana to treat their condition — locally and systemically.
Locally means applied at the site of pain. As with progesterone cream, some patients apply topicals such as cannabinoid-infused skin creams directly to the abdomen to help reduce cramping. Systemic refers to treating the whole body. While topicals can offer some localized relief, they also enter the bloodstream and produce systemic effects.
Endometriosis can cause sudden bouts of pain. In these cases, a delivery method with a fast onset time is desirable. Inhaled applications such as smoking, vaping, dabbing, and inhalers, offer fast relief as they enter the bloodstream directly through the lungs. However, accurate dosing can be difficult for some patients when smoking or vaping medical marijuana.
Oral applications such as oils, tinctures, capsules, and edibles offer systemic effects and more accurate dosing but are slower to provide relief, especially when taken with a meal.
Because cannabis is an herbal remedy, its effects can vary significantly from patient to patient. Each strain of cannabis produces its own ratio of the various cannabinoids as well as active aromatic compounds called terpenes. Ratios of these compounds vary not only from strain to strain but also from batch to batch.
As such, first-time users may not experience relief. Some experimentation might be required to find the ideal cannabis strains or formulas for each individual patient.
Endometriosis patients should consult with a doctor who is knowledgeable in the use of medical marijuana to treat endometriosis pain. Qualified budtenders at nationwide medical marijuana dispensaries can also help patients choose an appropriate application for their condition and lifestyle.
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Sources and additional reading
Research studies on medical marijuana for chronic pain
- (PDF) Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: A review of their effects on inflammation
- Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs
- Medical Marijuana and Chronic Pain: a Review of Basic Science and Clinical Evidence
- Medical Marijuana for Treatment of Chronic Pain and Other Medical and Psychiatric Problems
- Journal of Pain – A randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of cannabis cigarettes in neuropathic pain
- Neuropsychopharmacology – Comparison of the analgesic effects of dronabinol and smoked marijuana in daily marijuana smokers
- The Journal of Pain – Low-dose vaporized cannabis significantly improves neuropathic pain
- British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology – Cannabinoids for treatment of chronic non-cancer pain; a systematic review of randomized trials
- Cannabis for the Management of Pain: Assessment of Safety Study
- The effect of medicinal cannabis on pain and quality of life outcomes in chronic pain: A prospective open-label study
- Medical cannabis use is associated with decreased opiate medication use in a retrospective cross-sectional survey of patients with chronic pain