Rachel of Los Angeles, CA is coping with some pretty horrific pain from her Endometriosis. She’s hit some roadblocks with mainstream medicine. So, she’s trying to figure out if medical marijuana is a good option to help manage her pain. Here’s what she writes…
Hi, Dr. Patel,
I recently tuned into one of your Facebook live videos. And, the information was incredibly helpful. Thank you for that.
Now I have a question for you. I want to know if medical marijuana is effective for pain caused by Endometriosis.
I’ve been struggling with this pain for several years now.
It’s incredibly horrific. In fact, there have been times when I’ve been in so much pain that I’ve nearly passed out.
The pain is there all the time. 24/7. It hurts in my back. It hurts in my hips. It hurts in my belly. All in all, I feel like I’m being dragged down by a really heavy backpack all day.
The pain is at it’s worse during my periods. This isn’t your run of the mill menstrual cramping. I’m talking about sharp pains that shoot from my pelvic area and into my back and hips and down my thighs. Every time I get the pain it feels like I just got punched in the stomach and it has me curled up in a ball on my bed.
You know the pain’s been so incredibly horrendous that I’ve lost a job before because of it. They got tired of me calling in sick. I’m stuck in bed for a couple days every month because of the pain. Any inch of movement makes the pain 10 times worse. I feel so drained from the pain that each and every task takes every bit of determination and energy within me to get done. So, I’m sure you can imagine, it impacted my performance at work.
Nothing helps the pain.
Several years ago, I found myself taking more and more ibuprofen, but eventually that stopped working.
I tried Vicodin, but that didn’t help either.
In my early 20’s, my gynecologist put me on a birth control pill, but I came off it. I found out that it increases my chances of having a heart attack by two-fold. And, heart problems already run in my family. So then, my doctor and I tried a different type of birth control pill that would not increase my risk of a heart attack. But, the problem I ran into with this option was weight gain – like a whopping 35 lbs.
My doctor suggested stronger hormone treatments. But she also said that they would completely stop my periods and put my body into menopause. There’s just something about putting my body into menopause way before nature intended that makes me really nervous.
My doctor also mentioned surgery. But it just doesn’t make sense for me to put myself under the knife when there’s no guarantee that it’ll get rid of the pain completely.
I’m obviously not getting anywhere with mainstream medicine. So, I’ve been researching other treatment options. And, that’s where I came across medical marijuana. It seems like it might be a good option. But I’d like to know if you’ve actually seen it work.
Thank you for the work that you do.
Los Angeles, CA
You know what, the first thing I can tell you is that you’re not alone. Endometriosis affects 1 in every 20 women between the ages of 14 and 60.
So, let’s start with exactly what’s going on in your body. So generally, you have cells that normally grow in the uterus. Now when these cells start to grow outside of the uterus, where they don’t belong, is what results in Endometriosis.
The clusters of cells that grow outside of the uterus are referred to as extra-uterine growths.
These growths cause swelling and inflammation. And, also every time a woman has her period, these extra-uterine growths are having mini-periods and also all the symptoms that go along with having a period. Now having just a period is painful enough, but now having mini-periods on top it causes a tremendous amount of pain. So, Rachel, I can understand why your levels of pain are off the charts.
Ok. So, let me dive a bit into what the research says about medical marijuana and Endometriosis.
Medical Marijuana for Menstrual Cramps from Endometriosis: The Research
STUDY #1: in animals
A study done on rats with endometriosis. The results showed that there are actually receptors for the chemicals in marijuana located in the extra-uterine growths. In fact, there were more of these receptors in rats that had endometriosis compared to rats that didn’t have endometriosis.
The study also showed that the rats’ pain was
- increased when given chemicals that blocked the marijuana receptors.
- decreased when given chemicals (similar to the chemicals in the marijuana plant) that stimulated the marijuana receptors.
Basically, it goes to show, that marijuana reduces pain associated with Endometriosis, at the very least, in rats.
STUDY #2: in humans
A study published in 2016 looked at the levels of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors in women with Endometriosis and women without Endometriosis.
Here’s what they found,
- The levels of cannabinoids that we naturally produced in our own bodies – endocannabinoids – were elevated in the women with Endometriosis specifically in the secretory phase of their menstrual cycles.
- The women with Endometriosis expressed fewer cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2).
- Finally, women with moderate-to-severe levels of pain produced even more endocannabinoids than women with mild-to-moderate levels of pain.
So, what do these results mean?
First of all, it’s during the secretion phase of the menstrual cycle that the most significant pain and cramping happens.
To the researchers, there’s an imbalance in the Endocannabinoid System which may be contributing to the intense pain experienced by patients with Endometriosis.
Next let’s talk about the results I’ve seen the patients I’ve treated with Endometriosis.
Medical Marijuana for Menstrual Cramps from Endometriosis: The Results
Overall, I’ve had patients report that medical marijuana helps to reduce pain before, during, after their periods. Specifically, during the menstrual cycle, women report a reduction in the intensity of menstrual cramping.
Generally, women experiencing severe pain report a reduction of pain to mild levels. A lot of times they’ll me that the medical marijuana helps to dull the pain. In some cases, women have also reported that medical marijuana helps to eliminate their pain.
Patients also report that they are less reliant on prescription and over-the-counter pain medications. Quite frankly, I’ve had the vast majority of my patients with Endometriosis report that over-the-counter and prescription pain medications don’t touch their pain.
And, the pain is more manageable to the point where it doesn’t interferes with my patients’ ability to function. They’re able to take care of their kids, do tasks at work, and run errands with a greater degree of ease.
So there you have it, Rachel – an answer to your question about using medical marijuana for endometriosis.
I hope you find the information helpful.
Would you like my help? Head on over to the GET HELP page, I’ll step-by-step walk you through how to safely use medical marijuana to help relieve your menstrual cramps (from Endometriosis).