Girls Just Want to Have… Flower? 5 Common Women’s Health Issues Cannabis Could Help With
‘Tis the season to give back to moms, and we know just the way to do it.
Mother’s Day is around the corner, and while weed may not be the first item on your shopping list, it may just be the perfect gift for the moms in your life. Hear us out.
Though popular stoner-flicks suggest otherwise, men aren’t the only ones who love weed. A recent poll showed 9% of women in the United States use cannabis – just 6% less than the number of men who use it.
This is nothing new. In fact, women were among the first to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. In 1500 BC, an Egyptian medical record called the Ebers Papyrus described the use of sativa for menstrual cramps and childbirth. Later, the medieval healer and Catholic Saint Hildegard Van Bingen famously grew “cannabus” in her herb garden and devoted a chapter of her medical record, “Physica,” to the benefits of weed. The ancient Chinese even had their own ganja goddess, a divine “Hemp Maiden” who protected mortal women.
The most common reasons women use cannabis are the same as men – to have fun, improve their mental health, and/or ease pain. But cannabis can be highly effective for health issues specific to women, too, such as menstrual cramps.
We did some digging to find out how cannabis could help with five common women’s health issues.
1. Menstrual cramps
According to Cannabis Clinician Dr. Laurie Vollen, cannabis and CBD can be very effective in diminishing period cramps for some women. Cannabis products can reduce pain because of their anti-inflammatory properties, and, if you’re using THC, the psychoactive effects can also help you forget the pain in the first place.
“THC works with the endocannabinoid system in your brain, which helps the brain with its perception of pain,” Vollen said. “It changes the neurotransmission so that the pain does not become a pre-occupation – so that the pain can fade into the background rather than being in the foreground of the mind.”
Vollen said this can be especially helpful for patients with Endometriosis, a disorder associated with extreme, debilitating pain during menstruation.
2. Premenstrual syndrome
A living nightmare for many of the women among us, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) often takes the form of body aches and violent mood-swings. Best of all, you get to deal with it half the month, every month.
But PMS might not have to feel so much like a scene from The Walking Dead as you think. Many women find CBD and cannabis products help with the anxiety, depression, and pain they experience with PMS.
Numerous studies show cannabis can reduce inflammation, which subsequently reduces pain. Many people also find using cannabis helps them manage anxiety and depression. Some researchers believe this is because of the way cannabis interacts with the brain’s endocannabinoid system – the part of the brain that regulates fear and stress. Though there isn’t a lot of research on how cannabis effects PMS specifically, this interaction could be why so many women are experiencing mitigated mood-swings while using CBD or THC.
3. Post-partum depression
10 to 20 percent of new mothers become depressed after childbirth, which can severely interfere with daily function and their first days, months, or even years with their children. Fortunately, some women have found cannabis can help with that, and an increasing number of studies are showing cannabis can mitigate the symptoms of depression through its effects on the brain’s endocannabinoid system.
Amanda Jones, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Kikoko, a top-selling, female-owned cannabis product brand, says mental health concerns are some of the top reasons her female customers use cannabis.
“Cannabis is fabulous for anxiety and mild depression,” Jones said. “It is a much healthier option to many pharmaceuticals and alcohol. We all have what is called the endocannabinoid system throughout our bodies, and we need to take advantage of natural plant medicine that is so effective, and has been for thousands of years, in traditional medicinal practices.”
To be clear, cannabis in itself is not a cure for depression and should not be treated as such. Rather, it can be used to supplement other forms of treatment. If you’re struggling with depression, talk to your psychiatrist about whether cannabis might be a beneficial addition to your treatment.
FEELING DEPRESSED OR THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE? HELP IS AVAILABLE ANY TIME: National Toll-Free Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255 or online at SuicidePreventionLifeline.org
A survey conducted last year showed one in four women have tried cannabis to help manage the symptoms of menopause, such as insomnia and unpredictable mood-swings.
For the same reasons cannabis sometimes helps with PMS, it can also help mitigate mood swings during menopause. Cannabis interacts with the brain’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates fear and stress response. Its ability to relax the mind makes weed highly effective for many people who have problems falling asleep.
Amanda Jones of Kikoko said cannabis was what enabled her to quit sleeping pills.
“When we started Kikoko, I was addicted to Ambien,” Jones said. “Not a good situation! Cannabis cured my insomnia completely. I no longer use sleeping pills. And we hear stories like that all the time – it’s one of the top reasons women say they use cannabis.”
5. Pain during sex
It’s almost common knowledge that weed can be a kind of aphrodisiac. Users report using cannabis before intercourse can “increase physical sensations” and produce a “tingly” feeling, and some even report having more frequent or more intense orgasms.
More importantly, though, some women with endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts, and other disorders that make sex painful are finding an unexpected solution in cannabis.
As previously stated, cannabis and CBD are anti-inflammatory, making them very effective in relieving pain for some users. On top of that, the mental effect of cannabis can have a huge impact on sexual arousal.
Cannabis can also decrease anxiety by working with your brain’s endocannabinoid system, allowing you to push your pain to the background of your mind and focus more on your experience with your partner than you would be able to otherwise. So, if you want to light up your love life, you might want to consider lighting up.
Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.