Cannabis and endometriosis

One in 10 women in their reproductive age (usually between age 15 and 49) suffer from endometriosis [*], which is defined by researchers Dmitrieva et al. as “abnormal growths of uterine endometrial tissue outside the uterus” [*]. In other words, endometriosis occurs when the tissue that should grow on the inside of the uterus instead grows on the outside [*].

With the most common symptom being severe and localized abdominal and pelvic pain [*], women can also experience infertility, nausea, and even painful sex [*]. Unfortunately, there is little treatment available besides surgery and hormonal replacements that can produce serious side effects [*].

The good news is that there have been a number of studies that indicate the role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in helping to manage the pain attributed with endometriosis.

According to researchers Bouaziz et al., “Reduced ECS function has been suggested to lead to growth of endometriosis tissue and a more severe pain experience. Therefore, the ECS could be important for the establishment of pain associated with endometriosis.” [*]. 

Bouaziz et al. discovered that endometriosis is often attributed with endocannabinoid deficiency [*], which suggests that the use of cannabis may help to rebalance the endocannabinoid system, and in turn potentially help those with endometriosis [*].

What is the endocannabinoid system?

The ECS is made up of cannabinoid receptors, such as CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the central and peripheral nervous system, endocannabinoids, and enzymes [*]. This system helps to control digestion, metabolism, reproduction, immunity, memory, and even mood [*]. However, the ECS’s main role is to promote homeostasis in the body, meaning balanced temperature, hormone levels, blood pressure, and so on [*]. The ECS is found in every major system in the body, and is especially prevalent in the female reproductive system [*].

How can cannabis potentially help endometriosis?

When THC (cannabis’ intoxicating compound) and CBD (one of cannabis’ non-intoxicating compounds) bind to endocannabinoid receptors, it can help to potentially alleviate the pain women with endometriosis experience [*]. Plus, since research findings suggest that endometriosis may be attributed to endocannabinoid deficiency [*], the use of cannabis, particularly CBD, may help to boost natural levels of endocannabinoids and rebalance the ECS [*]. Research further shows that “support for CB1 involvement in endometriosis-associated pain would be strengthened by evidence that CB1 receptors are located on the somata of sensory and sympathetic neurons that innervate the cysts” [*].

A survey published in the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology analyzed 137 patients with endometriosis. Out of this group, 77 women had tried cannabis, and 67.5% of these patients found it to be effective for treating the pelvic pain associated with endometriosis [*]. Another survey conducted in Australia analyzed 484 women, and found that most women rated cannabis as 7.6/10 for effectiveness, with 10 being highly effective [*]. Although there are not many traditional treatments for this disease, cannabis’ potential healing properties may be able to help ease symptoms and provide relief [*].

How to get a Medical Cannabis Document

It’s now easier than ever to get approved for medical cannabis -- all from the comfort of your own home. If approved, you can begin purchasing cannabis from Licensed Producers, such as CannMart, an online store with the widest selection of medical cannabis in Canada. To get started, create an account and schedule your online consultation with a NamasteMD nurse practitioner.