Endometriosis is a painful condition that affects around 1 in 10 women in the UK.
It is complicated to diagnose, and there is no cure, although treatment options are available.
A lack of understanding of the condition means that it takes an average of 7.5 years to get a firm diagnosis.
Since endocannabinoid receptors are found in the female reproductive system, this leads many to wonder if CBD oil for endometriosis might one day offer a viable treatment option.
While CBD is not a recognised treatment for endometriosis, it is considered to be safe for most healthy adults to use.
So in the absence of any firm medical data, some women choose to explore this as a treatment option to help ease their monthly symptoms.
In this article, you will learn about the symptoms and possible causes of endometriosis.
You will also learn how CBD interacts with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) and why this might one day offer promise as a potential treatment for endometriosis.
And finally, we’ll share our tips for introducing CBD oil into your daily routine as a way to enhance wellbeing.
What's in this Guide?
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis causes cells similar to those found in the uterus to grow outside of the uterus.
These cells behave in the same way as the cells in the uterus and will bleed during a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Hormones cause these cells to build up and then break down with the monthly menstrual cycle.
But unlike those cells in the uterus, there is no way for the blood to leave the body.
This leads to inflammation, pain and scarring. It can impact a woman’s fertility and also lead to heavier and more painful periods.
Endometriosis can also cause extreme fatigue, depression, problems with relationships, fertility problems and have a significant impact on an individuals work and social life.
Endometrial cells can grow anywhere in the body, but they are typically found in the pelvis and abdomen.
The cells can also develop in the fallopian tubes and on ovaries, leading to complications with fertility.
How is Endometriosis Treated?
There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments that may help to lessen the symptoms.
The most common treatments include surgery, hormone treatment, or pain relief.
Surgery for endometriosis
Surgery can be conservative or radical. A conservative approach would involve removing or destroying the endometrial deposits to help alleviate the symptoms. However, this approach would not prevent the cells from returning.
A more radical approach could include a hysterectomy (removing the uterus) or an oophorectomy (removing the ovaries).
These treatment options would only be suitable if the patient is not planning to start a family.
Hormone treatment for endometriosis
Hormones could also offer some promise to help women deal with their symptoms. For example, oestrogen is thought to trigger the growth of endometrial tissue, so blocking oestrogen in the body could help reduce symptoms.
This type of treatment would make your body think it is pregnant, which means your monthly cycle would stop.
This would prevent the lining of the cells from breaking down and causing pain and inflammation.
Pain relief for endometriosis
Those with endometriosis may find that their usual pain medication is not strong enough. So instead, they might use a combination of pain relief techniques.
This typically includes heat therapy, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS) machines, physiotherapy and more potent painkillers, such as those that contain codeine.
These treatment options will not stop the advance of the condition but can help individuals manage the symptoms.
Alternative treatments for endometriosis
CBD oil is commonly explored as a potential treatment for the pain and inflammation associated with endometriosis. But, unfortunately, there hasn’t been much research on CBD oil for endometriosis.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant. It is also known as cannabidiol, and it is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the plant.
Its more famous cousin is THC, which is the compound responsible for getting cannabis users high.
CBD is commonly prepared as sublingual oil drops. CBD compounds are mixed with a carrier oil, and these are placed under the tongue where they can be absorbed through the small blood vessels in the mucous membranes.
CBD oil is extracted from industrial hemp plants, which are naturally high in CBD and low in THC.
For CBD oil to be legal in the UK, it must contain very low levels of THC.
There are only two types of CBD medication available on prescription in the UK; these are used to treat MS and rare forms of epilepsy.
We’re still learning about the potential benefits of CBD for conditions like endometriosis.
CBD companies aren’t allowed to talk about the medicinal qualities of CBD – so if you spot a seller promising their CBD can “cure” anything, run a mile!
How Can CBD Oil Help With Endometriosis Symptoms?
As we’ve mentioned, CBD isn’t a recognised treatment for endometriosis. But since CBD products are generally considered safe, some women choose to explore their own treatment options.
It’s best to think of CBD as more like a vitamin supplement that helps to keep your body functioning as it should.
It doesn’t offer instant relief as you would expect from a medication like paracetamol, but it could help to support your body like a multivitamin supplement.
Consistency is vital when it comes to CBD products. CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex system involved with sending messages between cells.
These messages help to maintain balance or homeostasis throughout the body.
Rather than bind to the endocannabinoid receptors, CBD instead helps to boost your body’s ability to make its own endocannabinoids.
By inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down anandamide, you can help to boost levels and support your ECS.
So, how does the ECS influence the symptoms of endometriosis? There are ECS receptors present in the female reproductive system.
These are called CB1 receptors.
Those who have endometriosis are thought to have fewer CB1 receptors, which suggests a deficient endocannabinoid system.
How Much CBD is Needed for Endometriosis?
If you are thinking about exploring CBD for endometriosis, first check that you are getting it from a safe and legal source. This will help you to avoid products that contain low levels of CBD or high levels of THC.
The Food Standard Agency recommends that individuals do not exceed more than 70mg of CBD per day.
This would be around 28 drops of a 500mg strength CBD oil.
Anyone exploring CBD oil for the first time should always start with a low dose and gradually increase.
Your height, weight and age will also have an impact on how your body metabolises the CBD.
Can CBD Oil Affect Female Hormones?
This isn’t yet proven, but a quick search online will uncover many women are turning to CBD oil to help manage hormonal problems.
In general, CBD should be considered a supplement to support wellness rather than medicine to cure any condition.
We don’t know enough about how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system and how this might influence hormone production.
However, since it is considered safe to use for most people, there is low risk of harm if you decide to explore this option.
Hormones are incredibly complex and involved with everything from growth and metabolism to emotions and even body temperature.
Lifestyle and environmental factors can lead to disruptions in hormone levels.
A faulty endocannabinoid system is also thought to be to blame for some hormonal problems.
With this in mind, it makes sense that some are turning to CBD oil to help support their health and wellbeing.
Can CBD Oil Affect The Menstrual Cycle?
At the moment, we have no reason to believe that CBD oil can affect the menstrual cycle, either positively or negatively.
However, if you notice any changes to your menstrual cycle while taking CBD products, it might be time to stop using them and visit your GP.
Keeping a symptom diary when you start using CBD oil may help you to identify any positive and negative effects of taking CBD oil.
Keep track of things like mood, sleep patterns, appetite and pain.
This can help you pinpoint if the CBD oil is effective for you and to help you determine your ideal dose and dosing schedule.