I live in a state (Delaware) where cannabis (medical marijuana) is legal, however, recreational cannabis (marijuana) is not. The cannabis products I use right now are hemp-based and since hemp is federally legal, I do not run into the pitfalls that many other cannabis consumers experience.
Having said that, I hope my experience with hemp is not dismissed as it is a form of cannabis, although no marijuana. I, personally, do not have favorable responses to THC and prefer the benefits of the other cannabinoids that are plentiful in hemp.
However, I do feel that medical marijuana is extremely important and beneficial for the population. Recreational marijuana may have its purpose too. As a woman that suffers from Endometriosis, I can attest to the powers of cannabis to help manage symptoms.
What is Endometriosis?
First, I need to start off by explaining what endometriosis is and what hell it can create for a woman. Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining inside the uterus (endometrium) that is shed on a monthly basis (period/menstruation), also grows on the outside of the uterus. This endometrial growth can create sticky globs that grow over time and adhere to internal organs sticking everything together.
These sticky growths or adhesions are like spider webs that grow in size and strength over time causing symptoms included but not limited to mild-severe uterine or abdominal cramping, GI (gastrointestinal symptoms) such as diarrhea or constipation, nausea, vomiting, back pain (especially lower back), pain with sex, and urinary issues. That list seems long enough, but there are other symptoms that can occur that are not physical in nature.
I have experienced all those physical symptoms mentioned plus mental symptoms like irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression. The mental symptoms I attribute more to the pain and the anxiety induced thinking about the impending pain or when I will have my next “endo flare up”. Is anyone in a good mood when they are in pain? NO!
Diagnosis for Endometriosis
There are other conditions out there that can mimic signs and symptoms of Endo. I was 31 when I was diagnosed with Endo in 2011 (now you can calculate my age), after undergoing exploratory surgery. I, like many others, was incorrectly diagnosed for years as suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
So up until my Endo diagnosis, I suffered for years of watching my diet, taking OTC (over the counter) and prescription drug, resting on heating pads, refusing invitations or canceling plans at the last minute because “my stomach was messed up”, etc. It was and sometimes still can be an absolute nightmare!
The problem with Endo is that people can’t “see” what is causing the pain. If I had a katana sticking out of my lower abdomen, I doubt anyone (in their right mind) would tell me to just take some Ibuprofen or walk it off!
But here we are with an invisible katana stabbing and slicing its way through our lower abdomen, yet we are expected not to be testy, moody, or seem morose. How fair is that?
After Diagnosis, Comes Standard “Treatments”
I put treatments in quotations because I feel that most of the treatments either mask the pain or cause side effects which to me doesn’t really solve the problem because now I have a whole other host of issues.
I mean, if you take a medication and it causes other symptoms or side effects are you really in a better state? It’s very frustrating and doctors are doing their best, but personally I feel treatment options for Endo…well….suck.
As stated above, I went through exploratory surgery in 2011 for my Endo diagnosis. After discussing my symptoms and the exploratory surgery findings of my Gyno with my reproductive endocrinologist, I was scheduled for surgery to remove my adhesions. I was also given a recommendation for dietary restrictions and we discussed various forms of hormone therapies, as well as pain management.
In addition to hormonal therapies and diet recommendations, I was given prescription medications to aid in pain when the aforementioned measures failed to control things. (Which could be often.)
Some prescriptions were NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and some were opiates or their cousins. For days when the pain was mild or when the pain was severe, but I still had to function in society (I use the term function loosely in this case) I would use the prescription for 800mg IBU (Ibuprofen).On the days when I didn’t have to function in society and the pain was so severe, I could barely get out of bed and NEEDED that heating pad, I used opiates like Percocet and Tramadol. The opiates did the best for the pain, but the possibility of addiction is a real concern.
In Came Cannabis
Now that I’ve explained what Endometriosis is, how it is diagnosed and how it is treated; I will now take you on my personal cannabis journey.
I, like many others out there, was resistant in hearing or even learning about the health benefits of cannabis. I was under the impression that using cannabis was an excuse for many to get “high”. C
annabis contains multiple cannabinoids that are linked to pain relief and have anti-inflammatory antianxiety, and antidepressant properties.
If you would like or need further information about how cannabinoids work within the ECS (Endocannabinoid System), I suggest watching videos, Ted Talks, and information produced by the Doctors Knox. These doctors are phenomenal pioneers in the ever evolving world of the ECS.
There are several methods that one can choose to ingest cannabis for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relief….I’m getting fancy) properties. There are tinctures/oils, capsules, edibles, florals (for smoking nugs or pre-rolled), and suppositories (yes, suppositories for your La-La) to aid in helping relieve Endo flare ups.
Now personally, since I have had surgery to remove the adhesions and then a third successful pregnancy (yeah, my son), my flare ups are not as bad as they were in my earlier years. Therefore, I have not tried the suppositories. However, I won’t rule them out completely as things could change between now and my next flare up.
My personal cannabis arsenal consists of: tinctures of various MG’s (milligrams) and flavors; edibles of various forms; and florals (smoke-ables). I use tinctures/oils daily for “preventive” measures and sometimes a little extra dosage to aid in sleeping well at night.
I use the edibles for my mild Endo pain and anxiety (caused by the “how am I going to feel tomorrow” thoughts) in addition to the tincture. And when the edible in conjunction with the daily tincture regimen has failed, I reach for the Florals. I prefer pre-rolled because I’m lazy.
The excellent thing about smoking florals is that they work better and faster. This method of cannabis ingestion I use sparingly and reserve it for the nastier moments of pain/anxiety as I don’t think smoking is very healthy and I think cannabis (even the best of the best) kinda stinks. Sorry, but I do.
Just like people discussing at wine tasting tannins and oaky or fruity notes; I can appreciate the cannabis aficionado’s discussion about the various flavors and smells, such as the terpenes and flavonoids, but I’m just not a fan. Oh, well…..
Now I still use 600-800 mg IBU, but I don’t need to use opiates. My need to use the IBU is less often due to cannabis usage and some dietary adjustments. I have to admit the dietary part, I’m definitely not good at sticking to. Between being a mother (I mean: chauffeur, “doctor mom”, therapist, personal assistant, chef, maid, etc.); maintaining a home; career (yes, I have a “9-5” job); and personal relationships, my diet sucks sometimes. It is harder to adhere to dietary restrictions when I’m on the go when time and convenience are major factors.
I do pay for those moments of poor dietary choices in the end, but I can rely on my cannabis repertoire to help relieve the symptoms associated with an endometriosis flare.
I really hope this testimonial has aided as a guide for any readers (and those in their lives) that endure and suffer from Endometriosis and its chronic pain. Cannabis, in its multiple forms, really is a fantastic option for pain relief.
- My Experience With How Cannabis Helped My Endometriosis - July 24, 2020