SINCE the decriminalisation of the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use in 2015, and the allowance for entities to obtain licences to cultivate, process, research and sell cannabis products, several industries have been exploring the benefits of the plant.
One of the major sectors that has taken a keen interest in cannabis globally is health, and researchers have been discovering new ways in which Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), the two natural compounds found in cannabis, can be used to treat and manage certain illnesses and conditions, including several women's health conditions.
Adrian Bell is the business development officer at Zimmer & Company Ltd, a local health and wellness distribution enterprise focused on hemp-based CBD products. He explained to All Woman that while medical cannabis products might not be able to rid women of some of the most common issues associated with the female reproductive system, it can help in the management of pain.
“For some women, over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are not necessarily the best solutions for menstrual cramps, and there is a reason for that,” he shared. “When the body is going through those hormonal changes monthly, it produces a hormone that prevents the NSAIDs from binding to your body's pain receptors.”
He explained how the body responds more favourably to the cannabis compound CBD.
“CBD modulates your perception of pain via the cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2), which is a protein found throughout the human body. It has a unique ability to react positively with cannabinoids, making it more effective than over-the-counter NSAIDs. CBD also helps to reduce inflammation, so it's really great with conditions such as endometriosis and fibromyalgia.”
Bell said CBD products are recommended by several gynaecologists across the island, and are available locally to women in a variety of products — including Vape pens, suppositories, sublingual drops and tablets.
Consultant obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Adrian Mitchell has recommended CBD products to some of his patients.
“I have gotten some good responses,” he said. “But I also have patients who have had no change in their symptoms.”
Dr Mitchell believes that more trials are needed in order to establish cannabis' role clearly in gynaecology, but noted that women have used it for centuries as an aphrodisiac, to aid in childbirth, and to treat infections.
“Cannabis had been noted from case reports dating in the early 19th century to improve pain in endometritis, increase uterine contractions, reduce labour pain, reduce bleeding after delivery, for amenorrhea, chronic cystitis, menopausal symptoms, decreased libido, vaginismus and hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy),” he said.
He was quick to point out, however, that these documentations noted that the product was extracted from various parts of the plant and combined with other agents.
“Also it's still a firm recommendation by most governing bodies not to use any form of cannabis for expecting mothers, women trying to get pregnant, or a mother who is nursing,” he cautioned.
“The effects on the unborn child have been widely documented, and can be as bad as causing death before birth. During breastfeeding it is discouraged globally.”
He warned, too, that persons who have allergic reactions or adverse response to exposure to cannabis products should seek medical advice before usage.
On a positive note, he said cannabis is slowly revolutionising chronic pain management and seizure control.
“It has been shown in small case reports to improve pain for a small group of women in whom routine recommended drugs do not work, but this is still not widely researched enough to be a top recommendation,” the doctor said.