Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which tissue similar to the endometrium — which lines the uterus — abnormally grows outside the uterus. Many treatments are used to manage endometriosis symptoms, including pain medications, hormone therapy, home remedies, and surgery. Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is an alternative medicine sometimes used to treat the chronic pain of endometriosis. Those considering CBD oil should understand the benefits, risks, and research surrounding its use in endometriosis.
CBD is an active ingredient of cannabis (marijuana). CBD oil is extracted from hemp plants (a variety of cannabis plants), and it comes in a variety of formulations, including gel capsules, creams, skin patches, salves, tinctures, and skin oils. CBD is reported to have anti-inflammatory and antiemetic (anti-vomiting) effects, and it may reduce anxiety and depression. Some studies also show that CBD may help those with insomnia fall and stay asleep.
CBD oil has garnered attention in recent years for its potential for treating chronic pain. Using an animal model, one study showed that CBD applied to the skin reduced arthritis pain and inflammation. However, more human clinical studies are needed to understand CBD’s role in managing pain and other health problems.
Unlike cannabis products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC), CBD does not cause a user to get “high.” According to the World Health Organization, CBD has not been linked to abuse or dependence problems. CBD is easy to purchase in many parts of the United States. However, confusion exists regarding its state and federal legal status. In some states, obtaining CBD products requires a doctor’s prescription. In other states, using CBD is illegal. Recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever cannabis-derived drug for certain types of epilepsy. This drug, called Epidiolex, contains CBD. Individuals should check with their local jurisdiction to find out if CBD oil is legal where they live.
Although endometriosis most commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and tissue lining the pelvis, it can spread to other organs. The condition is also associated with infertility. Symptoms of endometriosis include:
Endometriosis also can cause ovarian cysts called endometriomas.
People living with endometriosis have added CBD oil to their pain-management plans, due to its reported analgesic properties. Many gynecologists and people with endometriosis report that CBD oil relieves pain associated with the condition and decreases reliance on painkillers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and narcotics.
Although additional research is needed to understand how CBD oil impacts pain, some scientists believe that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is involved. The ECS is involved in many vital bodily systems, including the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. One theory proposes that abnormal functioning of the ECS, including cannabinoid receptors, contributes to endometriosis development and pain mechanisms. Some scientists believe that CBD may interact with the endocannabinoid system, reducing endometriosis pain.
No clinical studies have examined CBD oil’s impact on endometriosis, so additional research is needed to determine its safety and effectiveness. However, researchers from Western Sydney University conducted a survey on endometriosis self-management strategies. Their findings show that people who used CBD oil to manage endometriosis reported that it relieved their pain, anxiety, depression, stomach upset, and vomiting. This research group is planning clinical trials to test the safety and effectiveness of cannabis for endometriosis.
Many MyEndometriosisTeam members use CBD oil to help manage their symptoms, and they have mostly reported positive experiences:
Although CBD oil is generally considered safe, some side effects can occur, including nausea, fatigue, and irritability. CBD can also interact with certain medications, such as the blood thinner coumadin.
CBD is often sold as a supplement rather than as a medication, so it is not regulated by the FDA for safety and purity. Since CBD products are not closely regulated, they can vary significantly in composition and potency (strength). A study by the Journal of American Medical Association found that CBD products purchased online contained a wide range of CBD concentrations — and in many cases contained less CBD than their labels indicated.
Seek medical advice from your doctor before adding CBD oil or any other natural remedy to their endometriosis treatment plan.
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Are you considering CBD oil as a treatment option for your endometriosis? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a discussion on MyEndometriosisTeam.