Medical Doctors

Medical Marijuana for Senior Women’s Health Conditions Q&A

  • Marijuana and cannabis-infused medicines are available at medical marijuana dispensaries nationwide, however, some states require patients to get a medical marijuana card to shop at dispensaries. 
  • Some seniors suffering from female-specific medical conditions are finding a measure of relief from some of their symptoms with medical marijuana.
  • Medical marijuana has been shown to help with a wide array of symptoms including chronic pain and cramping, anxiety, and depression. 
  • There are conflicting reports as to whether or not marijuana can help prevent or treat cancer, however, its effectiveness at treating the side effects of chemo are well known.
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The reproductive organs of women over 50 are prone to a handful of life-threatening diseases such as breast, ovarian, cervical, or uterine cancers. And while conditions such as PMS are no longer an issue, older women must deal with a new challenge — menopause. Can medical marijuana help patients suffering from menopause? And is cannabis effective at preventing tumors or slowing their progression? 

Far more research needs to be done to adequately determine if medical marijuana can be considered an anti-tumor treatment. But there is substantial evidence that phytocannabinoids found in medical marijuana can help ease the side effects of cancer treatments and reduce symptoms of menopause. 

Let’s take a look at a few of the medical conditions that are specific to women over 50 and some of the studies that have been undertaken to determine whether or not medical marijuana can help treat these patients. 

For those who would like to take a deeper dive into these topics, links to some of the studies discussed below can be found at the end of the article. We’ll also link to more in-depth articles throughout this post. 

Can medical marijuana help treat symptoms of menopause?

A recent study suggests that women in the U.S. are using cannabis to treat their menopause symptoms. The results of the study were presented at the 2020 annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society. The presenters claimed that 27 percent of female participants in their mid-fifties who volunteered to be part of the Midlife Women Veterans Health Survey used medical marijuana to manage menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia.

The survey included 232 women. Half of the women used or were considering using cannabis to treat vasomotor symptoms (the dilation and contraction of blood vessels causing hot flashes.) Another 27 percent consumed cannabis for menopausal insomnia and 69 percent used it to treat genitourinary symptoms (urinary tract issues related to menopause.)

Lower estrogen levels in menopausal and post-menopausal women can herald the onset of many unpleasant symptoms. This fluctuation can deplete and negatively impact the body’s innate endocannabinoid system. This deficiency can cause issues like lower libido, vaginal dryness, anxiety, depression, mood swings, and insomnia. Consuming phytocannabinoids found in medical marijuana may replenish the deficient endocannabinoid system and alleviate these symptoms.

Furthermore, estrogen production is believed to play a significant role in the maintenance of bone density. Women in their menopausal years may often experience osteoporosis. This can potentially be avoided to some extent with the ingestion of cannabinoids CBG, CBD, CBC, and THCV. These compounds are being closely studied to explore the possibility of keeping menopause-related osteoporosis at bay.

Additionally, some phytocannabinoids are believed to mimic certain aspects of an endocannabinoid called anandamide that is responsible for regulating body temperature. This regulation may also help lessen the intensity and duration of hot flashes.

Does medical marijuana help protect against breast, ovarian, cervical, or uterine cancers?

At present, there is an extreme lack of human studies on female cancers and the administration of cannabis protocols. However, there are numerous studies indicating that cannabinoids inhibit the growth of tumor cells in mice and in test tubes. A spokesperson for the American Cancer Society elaborates on preclinical data and the dearth of human studies:

“More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol) slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce the spread of some forms of cancer. However, these substances have not been tested in humans to find out if they can lower cancer risk. There is no available scientific evidence from controlled studies in humans that cannabinoids can cure or treat cancer.”

Cannabis researchers are optimistic that their studies and findings will yield groundbreaking results for marijuana cancer treatments. This is good news for women suffering from cervical, uterine, ovarian, and breast cancers.

Does medical marijuana help protect against breast, ovarian, cervical, or uterine cancers?

There are a growing number of studies indicating that cannabinoids inhibit the growth of tumor cells in test tubes and rodents. Unfortunately, at present, there is a severe dearth of human studies to make this determination.

At this time, a number of in vitro and animal studies have produced some preclinical data — that is data obtained prior to utilizing the treatment in a clinical setting.

 The American Cancer Society reports:

“More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol) slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce the spread of some forms of cancer. However, these substances have not been tested in humans to find out if they can lower cancer risk. There is no available scientific evidence from controlled studies in humans that cannabinoids can cure or treat cancer.”

So far, studies have been promising. Many experts expect there will be major breakthroughs in upcoming research on medical marijuana for the treatment of breast, ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers.

Does medical marijuana help cancer patients?

Cancers occurring in many young women are often deadly (ovarian and uterine especially) as they are hard to detect and are too often diagnosed late in cancer’s progression. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are usually the only remaining options for many women suffering from these invasive cancers. 

These treatments are highly invasive and have a tendency to cause painful, disruptive side effects such as loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting, and extreme bouts of anxiety and depression. Certain medications to alleviate these symptoms come with a host of other untenable side effects.

Medical marijuana is known to significantly lessen these side effects with virtually no negative impact and may be an effective antidote for these symptoms.

Dr. Donald Abrams, an oncologist at the University of California, SF, is a firm believer in the administration of medical marijuana to offset the nasty side effects of chemo. He believes that marijuana can alleviate chemo-induced nausea and has the ability to stimulate appetite.

Dr. Abrams recently stated: “I think you still need to use conventional therapies to treat the disease, but if you have symptoms that might benefit from cannabis, you should consider using it. As an oncologist for 38 years, I can tell you it’s an effective treatment for nausea.”

Dr. Abrams also maintains that cannabis can effectively reduce the inflammatory response that causes pain and also regulate pain signals in the brain. 

Furthermore, recent cannabis studies indicated that cancer patients who ingested cannabis concentrates in trials appeared to need far less prescription pain medication.

Does medical marijuana help cancer patients?

As women age beyond menopausal years, they become far more vulnerable to a plethora of life-threatening cancers. Uterine and ovarian cancers are often extremely difficult to detect and diagnose and are frequently discovered in their later stages. In most cases, the only options for treatment are surgery, chemo, or radiation. Sadly, these life-saving treatments can wreak havoc and induce harsh side effects in the already suffering patient.

Patients may experience excruciating pain, violent nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and episodes of depression and anxiety. The pharmaceuticals used to treat the side effects sometimes come with more unwanted effects.

Studies have shown that medical cannabis may significantly reduce these side effects without a negative impact.

Dr. Donald Abrams, an oncologist at the University of California, SF, is a staunch champion for the application of medical marijuana to treat the untenable effects of chemo. Dr. Abrams recently stated: 

“I think you still need to use conventional therapies to treat the disease, but if you have symptoms that might benefit from cannabis, you should consider using it. As an oncologist for 38 years, I can tell you it’s an effective treatment for nausea.”

Dr. Abrams believes that ingesting medical marijuana products drastically reduces the pain-inducing inflammatory response that can overwhelm chemo patients. He also maintains that cannabis may stimulate the appetite and relieve the ravages of chemo-related nausea.

Additionally, recent cannabis studies report that cancer patients who consumed cannabis concentrates in clinical trials appeared to need far less prescription pain medication.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we’re still in the very early stages of research into medical marijuana’s effects on menopausal women’s health issues. While phytocannabinoids are being used successfully to treat symptoms such as pain, hot flashes, and moodiness in some women.  

Whether or not patients of these conditions are eligible for a medical marijuana card varies from state to state. Currently, 18 U.S. states do not require adults 21 and older to obtain a medical marijuana card to shop at local dispensaries.

In states where marijuana is still illegal, hemp-derived CBD products may be another option. Hemp, a cannabis crop that produces less than 0.3 percent THC, is legal nationwide. THC is the intoxicating cannabinoid found in marijuana. Some strains of hemp are high in non-intoxicating cannabinoids such as CBD, CBG, CBN, and CBC. Anyone can buy CBD online or in local shops without a medical marijuana card as long as it is produced from hemp. 

The medical conditions mentioned in this article are all serious and some are life-threatening.  Patients are advised to seek the opinion of a knowledgeable medical marijuana doctor before using cannabis products. 

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