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CBD and Endometriosis

08 Mar 2024

How can CBD help manage symptoms of endometriosis and potentially treat the condition?

CBD and Endometriosis

This International Women's Day we're shining a light on Endometriosis - a painful, poorly understood condition that affects hundreds of millions of women worldwide. Emerging research might explain why many are turning to CBD to manage their symptoms. 

One in 10 people live with endometriosis in the UK. That’s around 1.5 million women and individuals assigned female at birth.

Endometriosis is a condition where tissues similar to those found in the lining of the uterus grow elsewhere in the body. It can cause severe pelvic pain, gastrointestinal troubles, excessive menstrual flow and other distressing physical and mental issues and if untreated, endometriosis can result in problems with fertility and other serious health complications, particularly if the tissue grows on other organs.

Roughly 10% of reproductive age women and those who were assigned female at birth suffer from endometriosis worldwide, yet it is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Research shows an average 7.5 year gap for women between the onset of symptoms and receiving a firm diagnosis.

While there is no cure for endometriosis, doctors have traditionally used a combination of opioids, steroids and surgery to help patients deal with pain and get rid of unwanted growths. But an evolving body of research highlights the potential of cannabis as an alternative means to both manage endometriosis symptoms and treat harmful lesions. 

Could CBD help my endo flare up?

Endometriosis flare ups are caused when the cells, lining the womb, grow in other parts of the body. These include liver, ovaries, lungs, and bladder. When the cells shred and bleed it has nowhere to go and causes pain and inflammation.

Here are a few ways CBD may help

  • Anti inflammatory properties  CBD is widely used for its potential help with reducing inflammation, without the use of blood-thinning NSAIDs
  • Pain management  The cannabinoid has been looked into for the way in which it may help to manage the pain you are suffering from. It is thought to do this by desensitising pain receptors.

What's the best CBD to use for Endo?

CBD Oil: for the best quality CBD Oil make sure it's full-spectrum and organic like this one here.

CBD Capsules: take one of these capsules per day for a convenient, flavourless dose of CBD.

CBD Balm: Massage this CBD Balm into your lower abdomen and allow CBD to get to work relieving inflammation in the area.

CBD Edibles: Eat some CBD chocolate or CBD gummies to help soothe yourself during a flare up.

How can cannabinoids help with endometriosis? 

In the most comprehensive study to date examining the effects of cannabis use on endometriosis symptoms, researchers found that cannabis was effective (to varying degrees) in helping manage all symptoms associated with endometriosis, from pelvic pain and stomach issues to depression.

This is not surprising. We now have a wealth of credible research highlighting how cannabis, in a range of different forms (from THC-dominant variants to CBD) and consumption methods (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 body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a biological network which plays a pivotal role in overall health and bodily functions. 

A small but exciting area of scientific exploration is how cannabis, with its known anti-inflammatory properties and potential for producing proteins that stimulate programmed cell death (also known as apoptosis) could help reduce abnormal cell growth and shrink lesions without surgical intervention.

Two different studies conducted within the past few years have looked at how THC and CBD respectively impacts rodent models of endometriosis.

The first study found that once daily doses of 2mg/kg THC for 28 days (to the surprise of the authors) inhibited the formation of endometrial cysts. The second study looking at CBD and endometriosis concluded that while there are huge limitations in the research model, “with its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects and favourable safety and tolerability profile, [CBD] might be a candidate for a novel treatment in endometriosis.”

The authors of both studies recommend further examination of the cannabis-endometriosis connection.

Is there a study with CBD and endometriosis?

Similar to the findings with the mice study using THC, another study published in the British Pharmacological Society Journals found that while THC may be more effective against pain relief, CBD may stop endometriotic cells from migrating.

CBD effectively blocks the activation of the GPR18 receptor, which can stop endometrial cells from migrating. There is also potential evidence that as beneficial as THC may be, it also may activate that receptor. This suggests that using THC and CBD in tandem may be the best course of action in treating endometriosis with cannabis.

Along with potentially stopping the spread of dangerous tissues, CBD may also be able to desensitise the pain receptor TRPV1. To top it off, the fact that cannabidiol brings down inflammation is also a benefit.

Therefore, the best way to use cannabis for endometriosis is to consider the entourage effect, whereby a range of chemical compounds working together is most powerful.

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