Cannabis Has Been a Big Part of Women’s Health Throughout History

Christine Colbert September 23, 2020 0 comments

How is CBD being used in women’s health today?

CBD and women’s health have a long, rich history together, from even before we knew what CBD was.1)Marcu, Jahan. A History of Cannabis Use in Women’s Health. American Journal of Endocannabinoid Medicine, ajendomed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/AJEM_WomensHealth.pdf It goes all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia. Women throughout the ages have consumed cannabis to treat menstrual cramps, anal fissures, migraines, postpartum hemorrhage, and other female-specific health conditions. Even Queen Victoria was rumored to consume cannabis for pain associated with menstruation.

In fact, cannabis was recommended by medical practitioners all the way up until the early 20th century for menstrual pain and migraines. It was considered medicine until the mid-1900s, when it was classified as an illegal drug.

Today, thanks to increasing legalization of cannabis around the world, the plant is now being considered medicine once again. And researchers are finding that cannabis could be helpful in treating female-specific medical issues, just like it has throughout history.

The Latest Research on CBD and Women’s Health

Further, scientists are finding that the cannabinoid CBD and women’s health might have a continuing future together. A historical review 2)Russo, Ethan B. (PDF) Cannabis Treatments in Obstetrics and Gynecology: A Historical Review. ResearchGate, 2002, www.researchgate.net/publication/228559586_Cannabis_Treatments_in_Obstetrics_and_Gynecology_A_Historical_Review published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics (2002), studied utilization of cannabis in obstetrics and gynecology. The author concluded that given its extensive history, cannabis may offer a safe alternative for women in treating menopause. It may also be helpful in treating other conditions such as dysuria, dysmenorrhea and hyperemesis gravidarum as well.

CBD and Women's Health represented by woman holding up dropper bottle

The Pelvic Region

A recent study 3)Jadoon, Khalid A, et al. A Single Dose of Cannabidiol Reduces Blood Pressure in Healthy Volunteers in a Randomized Crossover Study. JCI Insight, American Society for Clinical Investigation, 15 June 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5470879/ published by The American Society for Clinical Investigation (2017), found that CBD could potentially act as a vasodilator. By doing so, it could dilate blood vessels, promoting blood flow in the pelvic region. Unfortunately, this study involved a small cohort of male patients. To further illuminate these discoveries, then, female human trials are very necessary.

Further, this kind of research could explain why CBD lube has been shown anecdotally to be helpful for women experiencing menopausal symptoms. And not only could it potentially increase blood flow, it could also potentially decrease inflammation.

(Anti) Inflammation in Endometriosis

CBD’s anti-inflammatory qualities might very well make it a safe option for women experiencing pain from endometriosis. This common condition causes the lining of the uterus to grow outside of the organ, and can lead to acute and chronic pain. A review study published in Cannabis an Cannabinoid Research (2017)4)Bouaziz, Jerome, et al. The Clinical Significance of Endocannabinoids in Endometriosis Pain Management. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., 1 Apr. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5436335/ analyzed existing research surrounding endometriosis and the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Researchers discovered that the ECS can play a role in the growth and symptoms of endometriosis, and concluded that therapeutic agents that modulate the ECS could be effective in treating the pain and pathology of this condition.

And it’s not just CBD that could help. An animal study 5)Escudero-Lara, Alejandra, et al. Disease-Modifying Effects of Natural Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in Endometriosis-Associated Pain. ELife, ELife Sciences Publications, Ltd, 14 Jan. 2020, elifesciences.org/articles/50356 published in eLife (2020), showed how THC may alleviate painful symptoms resulting from endometriosis. Researchers also discovered that THC could potentially treat the cause of the pain, by inhibiting the development of endometrial cysts. More research is needed.

CBD and Women's Health represented by woman smoking cannabis

How Women are Already Using Cannabis for Health

Even though science has yet to discover how cannabis can affect multiple female-specific conditions, women are already trying it on their own. Accordingly, a study6)Reinert, A.E., and M. Hibner. Self-Reported Efficacy of Cannabis for Endometriosis Pain. Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology, 2019, www.jmig.org/article/S1553-4650(19)31092-1/abstract#relatedArticles published in The Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology (2019), sought to find out if women were consuming cannabis for gynecological issues, and how they were faring. They surveyed 364 endometriosis patients, and among the women who had consumed cannabis, the majority of them reported a positive impact in reducing pain.

Another study 7)Slavin, Melissa N., et al. Expectancy Mediated Effects of Marijuana on Menopause Symptoms. Taylor & Francis, 2016, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/16066359.2016.1139701 published in Addiction Research and Theory (2016), surveyed menopausal and post-menopausal women who endorsed the consumption of cannabis. The researchers found that these women expected cannabis to help with menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep disruptions, depression, anxiety, irritability and joint/muscle discomfort.

But, women aren’t just turning to cannabis to ease endometriosis and menopausal symptoms. A study8)Blake, Erin A., et al. Non-Prescription Cannabis Use for Symptom Management amongst Women with Gynecologic Malignancies. Gynecologic Oncology Reports, Elsevier, 9 Sept. 2019, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352578919300864 published in Elsevier (2019), surveyed women with gyno cancer about cannabis consumption. Almost thirty percent of the respondents reported having turned to cannabis to manage their symptoms. And the researchers found that many of these women were consuming cannabis to relieve pain, as well as insomnia, anxiety and nausea.

The Future for Cannabis and Women’s Health

Early studies and anecdotal reports show enormous promise for cannabis as a safe alternative for treating symptoms of women’s health issues. But so far, human trials are lacking. Thanks to numerous survey studies, we now know that women are increasingly consuming cannabis to address these issues — with or without a prescription.

The next step for science is further study in the form of human trials. Moreover, these trials must also test female subjects. But, if cannabis can provide relief to women suffering from endometriosis, gynecological cancer, or menopause, it has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of women the world over. Currently, about 176 million women worldwide suffer from endometriosis alone.

However, if we look back through time, we can already see that women have sought effective relief from cannabis. Accordingly, if history can tell us anything, cannabis may hold considerable merit in easing pain and discomfort resulting from chronic gynecological conditions.

References   [ + ]

1.Marcu, Jahan. A History of Cannabis Use in Women’s Health. American Journal of Endocannabinoid Medicine, ajendomed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/AJEM_WomensHealth.pdf
2.Russo, Ethan B. (PDF) Cannabis Treatments in Obstetrics and Gynecology: A Historical Review. ResearchGate, 2002, www.researchgate.net/publication/228559586_Cannabis_Treatments_in_Obstetrics_and_Gynecology_A_Historical_Review
3.Jadoon, Khalid A, et al. A Single Dose of Cannabidiol Reduces Blood Pressure in Healthy Volunteers in a Randomized Crossover Study. JCI Insight, American Society for Clinical Investigation, 15 June 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5470879/
4.Bouaziz, Jerome, et al. The Clinical Significance of Endocannabinoids in Endometriosis Pain Management. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., 1 Apr. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5436335/
5.Escudero-Lara, Alejandra, et al. Disease-Modifying Effects of Natural Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in Endometriosis-Associated Pain. ELife, ELife Sciences Publications, Ltd, 14 Jan. 2020, elifesciences.org/articles/50356
6.Reinert, A.E., and M. Hibner. Self-Reported Efficacy of Cannabis for Endometriosis Pain. Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology, 2019, www.jmig.org/article/S1553-4650(19)31092-1/abstract#relatedArticles
7.Slavin, Melissa N., et al. Expectancy Mediated Effects of Marijuana on Menopause Symptoms. Taylor & Francis, 2016, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/16066359.2016.1139701
8.Blake, Erin A., et al. Non-Prescription Cannabis Use for Symptom Management amongst Women with Gynecologic Malignancies. Gynecologic Oncology Reports, Elsevier, 9 Sept. 2019, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352578919300864

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