How Cannabis Can Treat the Symptoms of Endometriosis

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How cannabis can treat the symptoms of endometriosis Endometriosis is a complicated and painful disease. Here’s how cannabis can help

Endometriosis is a common and sometimes debilitating condition experienced by women. This disease is characterized by the overgrowth of tissue that lines the uterus, called the endometrium. Side effects of endometriosis include chronic pelvic pain, painful menstrual periods (called dysmenorrhea), painful intercourse, gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, constipation and nausea. Some severe cases result in infertility.

The cause of endometriosis is unknown, and this complex disease can be challenging to diagnose and treat. This is partly because treatment options that work for one woman may not necessarily work for another. While endometriosis cannot be cured, cannabis can be used to control and relieve symptoms.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS)

Many components of the ECS—a group of cannabinoid receptors found in the human body—are found in endometrial tissue. Rodent models of the disease have revealed ECS levels are regulated by the menstrual cycle. These include:

  • Cannabinoid receptors type 1 and type 2 (also known as CB1 and CB2)
  • N-acyl phosphatidylethanolamine phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD), an enzyme that synthesizes endocannabinoids
  • Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), an enzyme that breaks down endocannabinoids

What’s more, the reproductive system’s highest concentration of the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA)—a chemical produced by the body similar in structure to THC—is found in the uterus.

The cannabinoid connection with endometriosis

Endometriosis is linked to endocannabinoid deficiency (ECD). Women with endometriosis have lower levels of the CB1 receptor in their endometrial tissue. Reduced ECS function leads to growth of endometriosis throughout the body along with more pain, while endometriosis pain is mediated through the CB1 receptor.

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