What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an extremely painful condition in which tissue similar to that which lines the uterus begins incorrectly growing outside of the uterus and can spread to the ovaries and fallopian tubes, among other areas. This tissue acts similarly to cells within the uterus – it builds up, breaks down, and sheds every month and can cause intense pain, inflammation, and scarring. Patients with endometriosis may experience at least one of the following symptoms:
- Severe cramping
- Painful bowel movement or urination
- Painful periods
- Chronic pain around the back, abdomen, and pelvis
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Fatigue & sleep troubles
- Painful intercourse
Many women often go years without a diagnosis due to the wide range of symptoms among other factors. Endometriosis is definitively diagnosed by laparoscopy – a small camera that is surgically inserted to view the organs for growth. The same method is used to remove endometriosis.
How Can Cannabis Help Treat Endometriosis?
Currently, there is no cure for endometriosis. There is a wide variety of different treatment options depending on the severity and symptoms a patient may be experiencing. Unfortunately, there is varying success with each, as well as possible adverse side effects. Endometriosis researchers are showing excitement around the fact that the endocannabinoid system is integral to the healthy functioning of the reproductive tract.
The endocannabinoid system is crucial in regulating many key aspects of your physical, emotional, and physical health including:
- Appetite, digestion, and hunger
- Immune Function
- Cellular energy
- Inflammation and pain
- Emotional regulation and mood
- Reproduction and fertility
- Motor control
In order to assist with symptoms associated with endometriosis, new research has shown cannabinoids can not only assist with pain relief and inflammation but also:
- Slowing cell duplication & cell migration
- Modulating immune response
- Desensitizing nerves
Apoptosis is a process of programmed cell death in which cells are normally organized to be removed by the body’s immune cells. Unfortunately, this process seems to be impaired in those with endometriosis. This is where cannabinoids, specifically tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can assist in preventing unwanted cell growth. This has been most commonly recognized in assisting with the limitation of unwanted cell growth in cancer patients. Similar research in mice have shown that activating THC receptors inhibit endometriotic tissue from growing and spreading.
Researchers have studied what is known as an “endocannabinoid deficiency”, which is a lack of endocannabinoid activity in the brain. The term “clinical endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome” is thought to be linked to medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, endometriosis, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), seizure disorders, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and more. One local Australian survey/study has shown that women using cannabis to treat endometriosis were finding relief in their symptoms.
Endocannabinoids assist with regulating nerve growth, and act on receptors in the reproductive system. Cannabidiol (CBD) can assist patients by limiting the activation of nerves that cause endometriotic lesions and reduce the growth / inhibit the nerve fibers of endometrial growth.
CBD has been noted to be as effective as Advil in studies in regards to battling inflammation, and has a much smaller side effect profile.
CBD is also recognized in improving bowel motility, anxiety, & sleep disturbances which can all be potential symptoms of endometriosis.
One study in collaboration with the Gynecology Service of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona found tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can be effective at treating symptoms such as ongoing pain, and helped reduce the size of the endometrial growths in mice with endometriosis. Some research has also shown how both THC & CBD can inhibit the growth of blood vessels that feed unwanted lesions, therefore limiting nutrients to the unwanted growth. Patients with endometriosis may have increased sensitivity to inflammatory toxins in the body. As THC acts on CB2 receptors, it has the ability to help counteract an overactive immune system and reduce onset inflammation by preventing the release of inflammatory agents.
As more research emerges surrounding medical cannabis & endometriosis, it is best to speak with a medical cannabis physician when looking to use CBD and/or THC as a treatment option. In doing so, you can work with them to best find and track your progress with accurate dosing, products, and strains of cannabis. Apollo offers free consultations to patients across Canada who are looking to find symptom relief from conditions such as endometriosis, anxiety, chronic pain, and much more. If you are interested in setting up a free appointment with an Apollo healthcare practitioner, you can submit a form here or give us a call at 877-560-9195. We are open 7 days a week to support you along your journey.