Seeking an effective treatment for endometriosis can be exhausting and often disappointing. Although endometriosis is common and affects about 11% of women in the U.S., there is no medical cure for this disorder. This lack of effective treatments is why many women are turning to natural medicine for relief - and discovering CBD.
Cannabidiol (CBD), the main cannabinoid found in hemp plants, is widely praised for its usefulness in helping with endo discomfort. However, it’s not just popular opinion that backs using this cannabinoid for endometriosis: Some promising research also points at numerous ways that CBD could help this condition. In this article, we’d like to give you a closer look at how endometriosis affects your body, and why CBD might be the answer you’ve been seeking.
A Close Look at Endometriosis
To understand how CBD could help relieve endometriosis symptoms, let’s first take a closer look at endometriosis itself. Endometriosis is a painful disorder linked to the female reproductive system that is the result of uterine tissue growing outside the uterus. This tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus is known as the endometrium, and it is programmed to thicken, break down and bleed during monthly periods.
This cyclical pattern works fine in the uterus, which clears out the old, discarded tissue through the vagina. But unfortunately, when endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus, these discarded tissues become trapped and cannot leave the body. This often causes a lot of pain and inflammation, especially during the menstrual cycle, and can result in the common symptoms of endometriosis:
- - Chronic pelvic pain
- - Bleeding between periods
- - Severe menstrual cramps
- - Lower back or abdominal pain
- - Pain during sex
- - Pain during bladder or bowel movements
- - Moderate to debilitating inflammation
Stages 1 and 2 of endometriosis occur when there are minimal lesions and superficial implants around the organs. When the condition advances into stages 3 and 4, this is considered deep infiltrating endometriosis (DIE). This occurs when the scar tissues have infiltrated 5 millimeters of the pelvic organs and ovarian cysts have formed. The implants become deep and there are dense adhesions.
Although we don’t know the true cause of endometriosis, there are a few popular theories. One theory is that endometriosis arises from retrograde menstruation, which is when menstrual blood flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity (instead of exiting through the vagina). Another theory is that hormones could mistakenly transform cells outside of the uterus into endometrial cells. There are still more theories, but none have been confirmed.
In addition to causing physical discomfort, endometriosis can also potentially impact the reproductive system. If the condition affects the ovaries, this can lead to the formation of endometriomas or ovarian cysts. In severe cases, endometriosis can lead to infertility or ovarian cancer, which is why it is always important to consult your doctor if you think you might have endometriosis.
Treatment for Endometrial Pain
Some common treatments doctors suggest for this condition are analgesic drugs, hormone therapy, and surgery. Each option comes with downsides, and it’s often difficult to know which - if any - will work for you. Here’s a more detailed explanation of these options and their possible side effects/complications:
Analgesics: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common pain medications recommended for endometriosis. This includes over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, as well as some prescription-strength NSAIDs. For NSAIDs to be most effective, they should be taken before the pain has started. However, this can be difficult to time if you have an irregular period. Additionally, some studies suggest that NSAIDs might not be very effective for endometriosis pain. For instance, one study suggested that as many as 70% of young women with endometriosis are resistant to NSAIDs. On the other hand, although opioids can be effective painkillers, they should only be used sparingly due to their highly addictive and potentially dangerous nature.
Hormone therapy: This type of treatment includes hormonal birth control, progestin therapy and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH), all of which can come with serious negative side effects. Hormones are used as messengers throughout our bodies, and their use can have far-reaching consequences that research is only starting to understand. For many women, hormonal birth control and progestin therapy can cause headaches, nausea and mood changes, while Gn-RH can cause artificial menopause.
Laparoscopic or laparotomy surgery: Both of these surgeries are designed to remove the problematic endometrial tissue. Since they are invasive procedures, they come with a general surgical risk: About 1% of surgeries can lead to organ injuries or other complications. Additionally, although surgery could help relieve your pain in the short term, endometrial implants grow back in about 20% of patients within five years of surgery.
CBD For Endometrial Pain
These days, almost everyone has heard about CBD and its many uses. However, it can sometimes be difficult to separate scientific evidence from marketing claims, which makes it difficult to decide if CBD has a place in your self-care routine. That’s why we’ve put together a straightforward review of what the research currently says about using CBD for endometriosis, including links directly to the research.
In order to compare the effectiveness of different natural strategies for helping with pain, researchers surveyed 484 women with endometriosis to discover which strategies (including dietary changes, yoga, exercise, meditation, heat, cannabis and CBD oil) were most useful. CBD ranked near the top, scoring an average of 6.3 for effectiveness when rated on a scale of 1 to 10.
In this study, cannabis (which contains both THC and CBD) ranked as even more effective than CBD alone. Additionally, compared to most other endometriosis treatment options, CBD has relatively few side effects. The side effects people experience most often when taking CBD include reduced appetite and drowsiness.
Studies like the above study which show that CBD is useful for coping with endometriosis pain are important milestones, but for most researchers, the more important question today is why does CBD help with endometriosis. What causes CBD to alleviate the symptoms of this painful condition? And that’s where things get a little more technical.
Juna created the Ease Collection specifically with our endometriosis community in mind. It has a complex ratio of CBG:CBD with added anti-inflammatory agents like turmeric. Juna's Ease collection helps tackle endo pain from the inside and out with the ingestible and topical formats.
How could CBD provide Endometriosis relief?
Once it enters our bodies, CBD interacts with many targets including our endocannabinoid systems (ECS). The ECS is a biological system that’s deeply rooted in many of our bodies’ different systems, and scientists are only just beginning to unravel its many functions. So far, the ECS has been linked to homeostasis of our appetite, sleep, mood, and memory.
In addition to the endocannabinoid system, CBD also interacts with important receptors like TRPV1 (a pain receptor) as well 5-HT1A (a serotonin receptor). This diversity of targets helps explain the diversity of benefits that people experience with CBD. Below is a breakdown of the top ways that scientists currently believe CBD could help provide relief from endometriosis:
CBD could prevent cell proliferation and cell migration: Normally, if endometrial tissue started growing in the wrong location, our bodies would respond by identifying and destroying those cells in a process called apoptosis. Unfortunately, apoptosis is impaired in endo-sufferers, leading to a growth and movement of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus. Endogenous cannabinoids in the ECS play a large role in apoptosis, and activation of Cannabinoid Receptor-2 (CB2) could help activate apoptosis. CBD might help this process by increasing your body’s natural production of endocannabinoids, or directly affecting the CB2 receptor. Additionally, CBD blocks certain receptors like GPR18 that allow cells to migrate to other parts of the body.
CBD may inhibit inflammation: A major source of pain for endometriosis sufferers is the inflammation that arises from the body having to break down and absorb the material shed monthly by endometrial implants. Studies have shown that CBD may decrease cytokine production, which are proteins produced by your body that signal the immune system and can trigger inflammation. In animal subjects, CBD can inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines and reduce inflammation. Cannabinoids are also said to help modulate the immune system, which could make them useful for other types of inflammatory health concerns.
CBD can help reduce pain: Ultimately, what most endometriosis sufferers need is something that can help reduce their pain. Countless people use CBD for pain reduction, which scientists think might in part have to do with its ability to desensitize pain-perceiving TRPV1 receptors. Additionally, other receptors that influence pain include the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A as well as other ECS receptors that are better targeted by THC. This is why some people find that CBD products that include THC can be more effective at addressing pain, in which case you might want to try a full-spectrum CBD product which contains a little THC.
CBD research is still ongoing and more studies need to be done to confirm the efficacy of CBD on endometriosis. Always consult your doctor first before starting a new type of endo treatment.
Is CBD Right For Me?
Ultimately, only you can decide whether or not CBD is right for you. In order to help your decision process, here’s a short summary of the pros and cons of using CBD oil for endometriosis support:
- Has anti-inflammatory properties
- Could provide relief from endometrial pain
- Is safe and tolerable
- Comes from a natural source
- Potential for other positive effects such as reduced anxiety and better sleep
- Has minimal side effects
- Lack of clinical trials on CBD for endometriosis in humans
- Potential side effects include loss of appetite, dry mouth, diarrhea, and sleepiness
- Not all CBD manufacturers are trustworthy and/or safe
Choosing the Right CBD Oil for Endometriosis Pain
CBD oil can provide a lot of great benefits with minimal side effects, but it might take some time to narrow down on the right products for your body. As we mentioned in the “Cons” section, not all CBD manufacturers are trustworthy. Due to the lack of regulatory oversight right now in the CBD industry, many dishonest manufacturers are pushing products that won’t be right for your condition or even contain what they claim.
Only one CBD product (Epidiolex) has been approved by the FDA, which is a drug used to treat a rare form of childhood epilepsy. Any other product claiming to be FDA-approved is making a false claim. Also, beware of CBD products marketed with unproven medical claims and of unknown quality/origins. Make sure to check the product label to verify exactly what you are putting in your body, and make sure it has been third-party tested.
Once you’ve identified a good manufacturer, the next step is deciding what kind of product is best for you. One of the first things you should decide is whether you want a full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or isolate CBD product. Full-spectrum CBD includes all of the cannabinoids naturally found in hemp, including CBD, THC (at a concentration of 0.3% or less), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabinol (CBN). Broad-spectrum CBD includes all of these except THC. As we’ve mentioned previously, having THC as part of the regimen may provide increased pain relief.
CBG is another exciting up-and-comer in the cannabinoid world. It has a lot in common with CBD with its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. And not only does it soothe your physical symptoms, it can also provide a rapid mood-soothing effect as well. We’ve included this important cannabinoid in both our Ease tincture and CBD topical products to help with PMS and endo pain, inside and out. This combination of cannabinoids in a full spectrum product enhances its overall potency, which is not something available in most other CBD oils.
Broad-spectrum products specifically remove THC, while CBD isolate removes everything other than CBD. With an isolate, you not only lose out on the collaborative benefits of the other cannabinoids, but you also miss the other terpenes and plant phenolics that can help enhance CBD’s effectiveness. The synergistic benefit found in full-spectrum CBD products is called the entourage effect, which is thought to work by the overlapping and complementary activities of the individual components - as designed by nature. And that means more health benefits for you.
Time to Experience the Soothing Benefits of CBD
After choosing the product you want, you will then have to decide how much is appropriate to take for endo pain. Additionally, you’ll have to choose how to take it.
When it comes to dosage amount, it will depend on how much CBD the product contains, as well as how severe your pain is. Currently, without appropriate clinical studies, there is no standard recommendation for an appropriate dosage for endometriosis pain. Therefore, we advise caution. Although unlikely, taking an extremely high dosage of CBD may cause liver damage, as animal studies have indicated. It is best to consult your doctor when deciding dosage.
There are also a wide variety of ways to “take” CBD oil. CBD tinctures can easily be administered beneath your tongue. You can also vape CBD oil, or apply topical CBD creams. Or, you can consume edibles with CBD as an ingredient.
When taking CBD for endometriosis, you will probably be seeking quick pain relief. Vaping is often touted as the quickest way to absorb cannabinoids. However, be aware that vaping can cause side effects like allergic reactions, shortness of breath, and chest pain, and also might lead to long-term lung damage.
Oil, tinctures, capsules, soft gels, and gummies may take longer to reach your system than vaping, but will also allow the CBD to absorb into your system over time, producing a longer and more steady outcome. We find oils to be the best way to administer CBD. It is quick, and you can easily measure out the exact dose you want on the applicator before conveniently dropping it under your tongue.
Don’t Let Endometriosis Slow You Down
Our busy lives are filled with activity. Don’t let the pain of endometriosis slow you down from doing the things you love. CBD oil’s nourishing, soothing properties will get you back to feeling good again.
Here is what some endo-sufferers are saying about our product:
From Ashley B - @cenizaly
“I was unfortunately diagnosed with endo about 3 years ago, right after I had my son. This tincture has been amazing. The taste is very light. It is also very potent, which is something I was looking for. I incorporate this in my daily life for my endo and general well-being. It has helped tremendously with the pain and inflammation. Also realllly helps me focus and keeps my mental health in check.”
From Erika Denver of @endometriosisenlightened
“Okay so Juna is a game CHANGER.
I had to jump on board and try out what I like to call #endometriosis friendly products, since I am someone who deals with anxiety which in return affects my physical health and flare ups associated with endo (bloating, discomfort, acne, etc.)
I started using this product about a week ago, adding drops to my morning drink every day. The effects I feel are tremendous! It has calmed my anxiety that I tend to feel upon waking up (specifically on busy days!) keeping me calm + collected. Overall, it’s a stress reliever. Currently balancing 2 jobs and 2 summer classes is not easy but this simple addition to my everyday routine has made it that much easier. It really surprised me how effective it is!
Juna’s Balance X an Ease are powered by earth’s most therapeutic ingredients to optimize your mind, body, and mood. Each drop contains 50 mg of CBD and can be used in your food/ beverage of choice or even under your tongue! All ingredients are certified organic MCT coconut oil, full spectrum hemp oil.”
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only. It is not provided to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or ailment. It should not be interpreted as instruction or medical advice to displace the advice of your doctor or other medical professionals. We recommend talking to your doctor to prepare a treatment plan for any diseases or ailments.