What is endometriosis?
Roughly 10 – 20% of American women between the ages of 15 – 44 will suffer from a chronic, progressive condition called endometriosis. It is a system-wide inflammatory condition, affecting the uterus, which is characterized by tissue similar to the tissues on the lining of the uterus growing outside the uterus. With time, this tissue can extend to growing outside other organs, often attaching to the bladder, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. During menstruation, the tissue outside the uterus thickens and bleeds (as the tissue inside does). But unlike inside the uterus, the tissues outside have no place to easily expel the blood, therefore it becomes trapped and causes inflammation and a whole lot of pain.
Symptoms of endometriosis can include longer/heavier periods, extremely painful cramping, bleeding between periods, pain during evacuation (using the bathroom), blood in the urine or from the rectum, diarrhea/constipation, migraines, fatigue, nausea, lower back pain, allergies increasing during period, bloating, and painful sex. While there is no cure for this condition, nature gave us a remedy that really does help.
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How can Cannabinoids help?
Let’s begin with the root of the symptoms – inflammation in the uterus. The CB2 (Cannabinod2) receptors are t he receptors responsible for calming inflammation throughout the systems of the body; this includes the uterus, stomach, as well as the spine and the brain. The endocannabinoid system is in charge of nausea, vomiting, and visceral sensation, therefore it is able to combat nausea. The cannabinoid receptors are able to activate natural opioid pathways for pain relief, therefore helping those suffering by not only calming inflammation, but by producing chemical reactions in the brain to reduce the perception of pain. Importantly, cannabinoids are able to lessen cell proliferation and cell migration in unsuitable areas of the body (tissues = a gathering of cells) and, therefore, lessen the bleeding. Additionally, while endometriosis is not an autoimmune disease, due to it’s inflammatory nature it can trigger overactive immune functioning. Cannabinoids are what keep the immune system in-check, in-balance, and retaining homeostasis. Therefore having a supplied endocannabinoid system is important for preventing comorbidities with other immune system based diseases. Finally, did you know cannabinoid receptors are responsible for the implantation of the fertilized egg on the wall of the uterus? Nobody is saying that CBD is going to help with fertility, but it is interesting to understand just how influential and encompassing the endocannabinoid system is in the human body and even the uterus!
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Other Tips for Endometriosis
Foria interviewed Yale-trained MD Aviva Romm about how helpful cannabinoids can be to those with endometriosis and she gave some additional lifestyle/holistic tips to women combating the symptoms of endometriosis:
- ● Antioxidant Rich Diet
- ○ Fish, green veggies, and berries particularly. She recommends 8 cups of fresh vegetables daily!
- ● Fiber Rich Diet
- ○ Helping the body to produce healthy, daily bowel movements is essential in reducing inflammation – Sprinkling flaxseed on your food is a super easy way to get fiber in daily!
- ● NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine)
- ○ This supplement increases glutathione, an important detoxifier produced by the body.
- ○ It is produced naturally by the body (just like endocannabinoids) but many of our bodies are not producing enough NAC due to toxins and an overproduction of hormones depleting our natural supply!
- ○ This is very similar to CBD, as one takes phytocannabinoids (CBD) to resupply cannabinoids, which the body naturally produces. Many of us have depleted endocannabinoid systems due to the stress of the modern world (stress) which causes excessive inflammation throughout the systems of the body and the mind, depleting our natural supply.
- ● Pine Bark
- ○ Research has illustrated that taking 30mgs of pycnogenol 2x a day for 48 weeks showed a 33% reduction in pain with additional lasting benefits.
- ● CBD
- ○ Duuuuhhhhh !
The Strength of Women
It takes an average of 7 years full of suffering before a woman is diagnosed with endometriosis. This condition is extremely painful, and women are living with it not even understanding what it is, or why their period and pain around their uterus is so unbearable. Pain without an ability to conceptualize it is not only PAIN, but it’’s frightening and alienating. Many women are not taken seriously because others think they are being overdramatic as they don’t understand that the pain these women are experiencing is much beyond your typical period cramps. Additionally, it’s a relief for many women when they can name and understand what’s going on inside their own bodies. Looking at testimonials of women who deal with this condition one can have nothing but profound respect and admiration for these extremely strong women – and there are a lot of them (1 in 10 women will suffer from endometriosis). The world, men and women alike, is only just waking up to the strength that women carry inside of them.
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An Article By Evie Louise
Evie Louise is a recent psychology graduate from New York University. She is a certified in International Cannabinoid Clinical Therapy. Evie sees all forms of the cannabis sativa plant as the future of psychiatry, and hopes to use it in her therapy practice as a full spectrum approach to mental health and wellness.