THE WEED & WOMB
By: Nicole Conlay | Nov. 7, 2016
As medical marijuana becomes more accessible, women begin to rekindle a long-lost connection.
Freya, the Norse goddess of love, beauty and fertility, was believed by many ancient Europeans to exist inside the cannabis plant. Consuming the flowers was to consume her feminine energy. The harvesting of cannabis was celebrated with an erotic festival dedicated to Freya and her divine femininity.
In many cultures across the world, cannabis was revered as a gift from the gods to womankind. This gift was meant to help with women with the pains— physical or otherwise—of being a woman. In the 19th Century, Queen Victoria‘s royal physicians prescribed a marijuana concoction to relieve menstrual pain, and women in ancient Egypt even used cannabis during labor to aid with contractions. Today, womankind’s relationship to the plant hardly resembles that same connection. Blame it on government regulation. And, of course, the weight of patriarchal society.
If you have, or have ever had, a uterus reclaiming access to medical marijuana as an option for reproductive health could be life changing. Because of its illegality, much is unknown about just how helpful the plant can be to women, but we do know its effect on the endocannabinoid system can help with anything from premenstrual symptoms, to fertility, to menopause.
One thing a woman knows well is the pain that accompanies her period. Thankfully, marijuana has been shown to relieve pain in many parts of the body including the womb. THC can quell the anxiety, nausea, painful cramps, headaches, and depression associated with PMS and PMDD.
Thanks to companies like Whoopi & Maya, the sweet relief of THC for menstrual discomfort is making its way to the forefront of the medical marijuana movement. Founded by actress Whoopi Goldberg and award-winning edibles maker Maya Elisabeth, Whoopi & Maya have created a line of chocolates, soaks, tinctures, and lotions that relieve menstrual pain. “This was all inspired by my own experience from a lifetime of difficult periods and the fact that cannabis was literally the only thing that gave me relief,” Whoopi remarks.
Endometriosis, a disease in which the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, impacts 10 percent of women. That’s a staggering 176 million women worldwide. This can cause infertility, hormonal imbalances, and debilitating pain during menstrual periods or sometimes 24/7. There is no cure for endometriosis, and women are often prescribed high doses or hormones to stop their periods all together, or just left to deal with the pain.
The end of suffering for millions of women may lie in the under-researched, complex system of receptors called the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system consists of a series of receptors that are configured only to accept cannabinoids, like THC and CBD found in cannabis. Endometriosis is linked to endocannabinoid deficiency (ECD). All parts of the endocannabinoid system are present in the human ovary, and women with endometriosis have lower levels of cannabinoid receptors in endometrial tissue. Reduced endocannabinoid system function leads to growth of endometriosis throughout the body and more pain.
We already know about the pain-relieving properties of cannabis, but can the plant heal the root cause of endometriosis? More research needs to done to answer that question, but we know consuming cannabis can help with the symptoms. Topical THC lotions can help with back and pelvic pain, and juicing cannabis can relieve the inflammation caused by endometriosis.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is another chronic illness that effects women’s reproductive system. It is a hormonal imbalance caused by small, benign cysts on the ovaries. This causes irregular painful periods, infertility, weight gain, acne, facial hair, and in some cases, diabetes and heart disease.
COS is effected by the endocannibinoid system very much like endometriosis, but PCOS has the added factor of insulin resistance. Cannabis is known to stabilize blood sugar levels as well as lower blood pressure to improve circulation in diabetic PCOS patients. The “how” of treated PCOS with cannabis is largely unknown due to lack of research, but the “why” is shown in the millions of women struggling with this complicated and life-altering disease.
Menopause – an experience know to all women since the beginning of human life. Yet why it is still something women suffer through using treatment methods that have unpleasant, painful, and sometimes deadly side effects? Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) is the normal protocol when it comes to thwarting the symptoms of menopause such as bone loss and hot flashes. But this therapy comes with a higher risk of breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.
Again, taking a look at the endcannabionoid system is the key to finding a better solution to the symptoms of menopause. Lack of endocannabinoids signaling may be responsible for some of the negative symptoms. Estrogen levels are linked to endocannabinoid levels, and both peak at ovulation, and this does not occur in a menopausal woman.
Also, lowered levels of estrogen during and after menopause means less activation of the endocannabinoid system and poor ability to respond to stress and elevate mood accordingly.
Reactivating the endocannabinoid system with cannabis can be the alternative to ERT that does not have all the life-threatening side effects. Cannabis can regulate bone loss and boost serotonin signaling and lower body temperature, which can reduce hot flashes and anxiety associated with menopause.
Probably the most overlooked subject when it comes to woman’s health is healthy, enjoyable sex. Thankfully, cannabis, again, has you covered! The plant can reduce pain during sex, enhance orgasm, and reignite your sex drive.
Our friends at Foria have been mastering the art of the big “O” with their cannabis- infused products for the female. Infused topical lubricants and medicated vaginal suppositories take away pain and increase pleasure. What more can you ask for?
As states begin to legalize medical marijuana, we begin to see women’s connection to the healing properties of marijuana rekindle. More research must be conducted to build the argument for cannabis as an option for women struggling with reproductive issues. After centuries of women’s health being a misunderstood afterthought, today women must continue to fight for what is best for their bodies.
If medical marijuana is not legal in your state, reach out to your local representatives, sign your state’s petition, and make your voice heard. When it comes to your health – research your options, speak up, and above all – trust what your body is telling you.