How can cannabis help manage the symptoms of endometriosis and possibly treat the condition?
Endometriosis Awareness Month helps shine a light on a painful and poorly understood disease that affects hundreds of millions of women worldwide. New research could explain why many people turn to cannabis to manage their symptoms.
In the UK, one in ten people have endometriosis. That's about 1,5 million women and people assigned female at birth.
Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue similar to that of the uterine lining develops elsewhere in the body. It can cause severe pelvic pain, gastrointestinal upset, excessive menstrual flow, and other distressing physical and mental problems. If left untreated, endometriosis can lead to fertility problems and other serious complications, especially if the tissue grows on other organs.
Around 10% of women of childbearing age and those assigned a female at birth suffer from endometriosis worldwide, but the disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Research shows that it takes an average of 7,5 years from the onset of symptoms to a firm diagnosis.
Although there is no cure for endometriosis, doctors have traditionally used a combination of opioids, steroids, and surgery to help patients cope with pain and get rid of unwanted growths. But a growing body of research highlights the potential of cannabis as an alternative way to manage endometriosis symptoms and treat harmful lesions.
How Can Cannabis Help Treat Endometriosis?
In the most comprehensive study to date on the effects of cannabis use on symptoms of endometriosis, researchers found that cannabis was effective (to varying degrees) in helping manage all associated symptoms. to endometriosis, from pelvic pain and stomach problems to depression.
These results are not surprising. We now have a large number of credible studies showing that cannabis, in different forms (from THC-dominant variants to CBD) and methods of consumption (vaping, edibles, topicals, etc.), is an effective treatment. for a variety of medical conditions, including pain, insomnia, and anxiety, all of which are commonly experienced by people with endometriosis.
Cannabis has a complementary relationship with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a biological network that plays a vital role in overall health and bodily functions.
Cannabis, with its known anti-inflammatory properties and potential to produce proteins that stimulate programmed cell death (also known as apoptosis), may help reduce abnormal cell growth and shrink lesions without surgery, which is a restricted but exciting field of scientific exploration.
Two different studies conducted over the past few years have examined the respective impact of THC and CBD on models of endometriosis in rodents.
La first study showed that daily doses of 2mg/kg of THC for 28 days (to the surprise of the authors) inhibited the formation of endometrial cysts.
La second study on CBD and endometriosis concluded that, despite the enormous limitations of the research model, "due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and its favorable safety and tolerability profile, CBD could be a candidate for a new endometriosis treatment" page (in French).
The authors of both studies recommend further investigation of the link between cannabis and endometriosis. Cannabis is an ideal choice because of the effects it has on the body. In a healthy body, aberrant cells are quickly identified and destroyed, preventing tissue from growing where it is not supposed to be, a process known as apoptosis . But when someone has endometriosis, we see that this ability is absent or impaired. The body's endocannabinoid system, however, is instrumental in apoptosis. This has many applications. In some cases, cannabis has been shown to prevent cancer cells from multiplying by stimulating the process of apoptosis in the body. But in the case of endometriosis, it can be used to stop the growth of abnormal tissue cells outside the uterus. For anyone who has dealt with the pain these growths can cause, this is a cure that couldn't have come soon enough.