When I first released our CBD products n 2017, I was pleasantly surprised by the response from women suffering from endometriosis. I really wasn’t surprised that CBD oil can relieve common symptoms of endometriosis, just how well it worked for endometriosis pain, menstrual cramps, and chronic pelvic pain.
Women are talking about the pain relief effects of CBD and THC. Celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg even has a line of products designed especially endometriosis. But does CBD really work or is it all a “placebo” effect? It turns out, recent studies have uncovered numerous ways that phytocannabinoids could actually target the root causes of various conditions – including endometriosis.
A number of studies indicate that phytocannabinoids such as THC and CBD can be effective treatments for endometriosis by:
· Stopping cell proliferation
· Preventing cell migration
· Inhibiting endometriotic lesion vascularization (blood vessels)
· Inhibiting lesion innervation
· Blocking synthesis of inflammatory prostaglandins
· Modulating the immune response
· Desensitizing nerves that transmit pain
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful condition and one of the most common gynecological problems in the United States and a leading cause of both hospitalization and surgical procedures such as hysterectomy. Women with symptomatic endometriosis face debilitating and chronic pain; asymptomatic and symptomatic women alike may experience fertility issues.
Endometriosis is defined as the presence and growth of endometrial tissue in locations outside of the uterus. These cells may appear on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder, peritoneal tissue, ligaments, or abdominal tissues, and rarely may occur at other sites, including the nasal and respiratory passages leading to nosebleeds or pink frothy sputum at the time of the menstrual cycle. These abnormal cell growth responds to cyclic hormonal changes, proliferating and shedding outside of the uterus, causing pain and inflammation of the local tissue. Unlike typical menstruation, the blood and tissue shed from these cells are frequently trapped in the body, causing inflammation and scar tissue. Oftentimes these trapped endometrial cells can trigger a response from your immune system, and can cause autoimmune disease overtime.
What causes endometriosis?
Multiple theories exist on the etiology of endometriosis, including retrograde menstruation, lymphatic flow theory, and environmental factors.
· Retrograde menstruation describes menstruation and endometrial tissue flowing the wrong direction through the fallopian tubes and into the abdominal cavity.
· Lymphatic flow theory suggests the spread of endometrial tissue throughout the body via the lymphatic system
· It has been widely speculated that environmental pollution is to blame for the abnormal growth. Studies focus on a toxin called dioxin, which is often found in polluted drinking water, trash burning sites, some types of clay, pesticides, and chemicals released during the process of industrial paper bleaching. Dioxins are extremely toxic and known to cause cancer, reproductive problems and hormonal imbalances. Research conducted by the United States Environmental Agency (EPA) has determined a strong connection between dioxins and endocannabinoid deficiency as well. Another study published by the Endometriosis Association looked at the effects of dioxin exposure in monkeys, and found that 79% of the monkeys developed endometriosis.
The development of this medical condition is likely a result of interplay of numerous factors. The pain of endometriosis, the psychological impact it has on women dealing with these recurrent symptoms are frustrating and debilitating. Many are turning to drastic measures such as hysterectomy to end the cycle of severe pain.
Is Endometriosis Genetic
Endometriosis is thought to have genetic predisposition, which means it does appear to cluster in families. Genetic studies have demonstrated an increased frequency of the disease in close relatives with the type of inheritance most likely polygenic and multifactorial.
Common Symptoms of Endometriosis
- Abdominal pain
- Painful periods
- Back pain
- Frequent or constant pain that is over site
- Insomnia, lethargy
- Later on, pinched nerve pain
- Ovulation pain
- Pain on intercourse
- Pain with bowel movement or urination
- Pelvic burning and aching not limited to menstruation
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) with dysmenorrhea and infertility
- Rarely, bleeding after bowel movements or after intercourse
- Referred pain in distant sites, especially shoulder blades or top of collar bone
- Swollen abdomen; intestinal gas
- Conventional and medical treatment
Depending on the severity of endometriosis, a medical professional will approach treatment with either pharmaceuticals or surgical. Since there is no known cure for endometriosis (other than total hysterectomy), treatment options focus on managing symptoms while making lifestyle and dietary changes to prevent further spreading of endometriosis tissue.
· Painkillers – Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and analgesic painkillers help women cope with the pain but do nothing to prevent the disease from progressing. Long term use can lead to health consequences, including GI bleeding
· Hormone therapy – Progestin suppress the response of endometrial tissue to cyclic hormone, leading to atrophy of this tissue. However in many cases the side effects outweigh the benefits of the therapy – emotional issues, weight gain, fluid retention and breakthrough bleeding.
· Surgery – Doctors can surgically remove the misplaced endometrial tissue, which often provides tremendous relief but it recurrent rate is high. Another drastic surgical option is ovariectomy – the surgical and natural menopause will end the cyclical nature of endometrial pain.
Can CBD help?
Although there hasn’t been any study that substantiated phytocannabinoids such as CBD can actually treat endometriosis, it has been suggested that cannabis compound such as CBD and THC, as a well-established option for pain management, can be effective enough to improve the patients’ quality of life. In addition, CBD is a phytocannabinoid, which works naturally with the endocannabinoid system to bring balance.
CBD and THC vs Pain Signals
Nerves that supply endometriotic lesions can increase the pain of endometriosis. These nerves also contain endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors), and when THC activates this receptor it can help decrease pain. Although CBD does not work directly with endocannabinoid receptors directly, it is capable of desensitizing the pain receptor TRPV1. CBD works like an Advil but without the side-effect. Many endometriosis patients have found relief through taking CBD but without the gastrointestinal side effects that comes with taking NSAIDs like Advil long term. NSAIDS work b inhibiting certain enzymes (named COX-2) that contribute to inflammation. CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects come with fewer of these side effects because it specifically inhibits COX-2 and not COX-1.
A study from 2010 shows evidence of a connection between the endocannabinoid system and endometriosis. “We found that CB1 receptor agonists decrease, whereas CB1 receptor antagonists increase endometriosis-associated hyperalgesia (enhanced sensitivity to pain)”, researcher stated. They further suggest that the endocannabinoid system contributes to mechanisms underlying both the abnormal tissue growth and the pain associated with endometriosis, thereby suggesting new approach to treatment should include CBD. Another study from 2017 looked at various mechanisms such as nociceptive pain, inflammatory pain, neuropathic pain, and even the psychological effect of pain and endocannabinoid system. The authors of the study explained the importance of targeting the endocannabinoid system when treating endometriosis symptoms.
In conclusion, many have found it helpful to use CBD in managing pain associated with endometriosis. It is important to consult with your doctor or other medical professionals you trust to provide you with more information on this topic before using CBD as part of your treatment.
Start with micro-dosing with 500mg of CBD – at 0.25mg or a quarter dropper x 4 times a day which gives you 16mg of CBD a day.
Genetics and genomics of Endometriosis
Love and light,
Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.