CBD Products and Medical Marijuana for Endometriosis
Last updated: August 2021
People with endometriosis want safe, effective ways to relieve the pain and other symptoms of this chronic condition. However, our 2021 Endometriosis In America survey shows that only 14 percent of survey respondents feel their endo symptoms are well-controlled by their current treatment plan.
While 81 percent of respondents use over-the-counter pain relievers to relieve endo symptoms, some are turning to CBD products and medical marijuana.
What is medical marijuana?
People use the words “cannabis” and “marijuana” interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing. Medical marijuana (medical cannabis) is a term for the different strains of the Cannabis sativa plant.1,2
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are the active compounds of Cannabis sativa. The main cannabinoids are THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Some Cannabis sativa plants have very little THC. These plants are called “hemp” instead of “marijuana.”1,2
Both CBD and THC work with receptors (usually in the brain) to produce their therapeutic effects. THC is the main part in marijuana that affects a person’s mental state, creating a “high.”
CBD products and medical marijuana with THC
There are many different CBD products. These include creams for the skin, drinking water, and oils to add to food. While these products contain varying amounts of CBD, they do not impact the mind or cause the "high" like marijuana with THC does.2
Medical marijuana that includes THC can cause a “high.” Many forms of medical marijuana with THC exist. Many medical marijuana products have both CBD and THC.2
Is it legal?
People now have more access to legal CBD products and medical marijuana with THC. But the laws on the use of both vary from state to state. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not endorsed CBD products to treat endometriosis or other diseases. Medical marijuana with THC remains illegal under federal law, while some state have made it legal.1,2
Our 2021 Endometriosis In America survey found that 33 percent of endo warriors have used CBD oil for endometriosis. Plus, 9 percent say they have used medical marijuana in the past, while 25 percent currently use MMJ.
These numbers are similar to the results of an online REDCap survey about CBD and cannabis for endometriosis. They had either had been diagnosed with endometriosis or were on the Endometriosis Association mailing list.3
Of the 240 people linked to the Endometriosis Association, 27.8 percent had used CBD and 32.1 percent had used medical marijuana. Of the 124 people who had received an endo diagnosis, 46.0 percent had used CBD and 46.8 percent had used medical marijuana. More than half of those using either CBD or cannabis deemed them fairly or highly effective for pelvic pain caused by endometriosis.3
What endometriosis symptoms are people trying to ease with CBD products and medical marijuana?
People want relief from the pain of endometriosis. This pain may occur in the back, belly, hips, legs, and sides of the body. The pain can be felt nonstop or during periods, sex, and during times of stress. Nearly half of the 2021 Endometriosis In America survey respondents perceive the severity of their symptoms as severe. Plus, 100 percent of respondents say they have experienced pain at some point, including abdominal or pelvic pain, painful periods, or back or flank pain.
What does research show about the use of CBD products and medical marijuana for endometriosis?
Some research has looked at the use of CBD products and medical marijuana for endometriosis. While the results from some studies are promising, more research is needed to better understand how CBD and medical marijuana impact endo symptoms.
One study published in 2020 found that THC reduced some endometriosis symptoms in a mouse model. Certain mice received a small dose of TCH daily for 28 days. These mice displayed signs of less pain, better brain function, and no new endometrial cysts.4
Due to the promising results of this study, doctors aim to test the use of THC for endometriosis in people in clinical trials. For now, the authors of the study suggest that people do not use cannabis due to known risks like addiction, anxiety, and fatigue. More research is needed to ensure the safety of products from the plant.4
These study results may be encouraging for endo warriors who are looking for better treatments. It also offers endo warriors the chance to help advance treatments through clinical trials.
If you have endometriosis or think you do, talk to your doctor. They can address your concerns and discuss standard treatments as well as alternative options like CBD, medical marijuana, and supplements.
The 2021 Endometriosis In America survey was conducted online from February through March 2021. The survey was completed by 1,027 people.
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