Cannabis and Women’s Health

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More Research is Needed

The cannabis community is richly diverse, made up of people from all ages, races, beliefs, and experiences. Its ability to provide therapeutic relief for a variety of conditions means it can even transcend the often heavyweight and divisive topics of politics and religion.

Women not only make up a large part of the consumer market, they’re also founding and leading new companies that are focused on the unique needs of women and how cannabis can benefit them.

Supporting the efforts of cannabis businesses and products focused on women’s health are cannabis nurses Brittany Whiters and Ciara Jenkins, who are shining a light on the benefits of cannabis in healthcare with their digital publication, CANNAHEALTH Magazine, which “empowers healthcare providers and caregivers through knowledge, supplies resources for safe access and opportunities for advocacy of medicinal cannabis.”

Even though their magazine isn’t targeted specifically to women’s health, they have produced women-specific content.

“CANNAHEALTH digital magazine addressed some women’s health concerns that can be treated with Cannabis medicine in a special Women’s edition,” Whiters informed us. “These concerns included endometriosis pain, women-related cancers, and breastfeeding.”

While pregnant women have been advised not to use marijuana while breastfeeding, it’s interesting to note that naturally occurring endocannabinoids have been identified in breast milk. Some believe it helps the baby to feed, relax, and sleep — even suggesting that the term ‘milk drunk’ describing babies right after breastfeeding may have an even deeper meaning than intended!

In a study of pregnant mothers in Jamaica, researchers examined the babies of women who used cannabis during pregnancy and compared them with women who did not use cannabis. They assessed the babies at 3-days old and then again at 1-month old. While the babies didn’t show any significant differences at 3-days old, the babies of the women who used cannabis exhibited quite different behavior at 1-month old.

According to the study’s authors, “At 1 month, the exposed neonates showed better physiological stability and required less examiner facilitation to reach organized states. The neonates of heavy-marijuana-using mothers had better scores on autonomic stability, quality  of alertness, irritability, and self-regulation and were judged to be more rewarding for caregivers.”

However, the limitations of current cannabis research mean that this one study shouldn’t be construed as an endorsement for using cannabis during pregnancy. More research on this topic is absolutely needed.

But healthcare professionals such as Whiters have taken notice. “I believe that in time (a very long period of time) morning sickness related to pregnancy will start to emerge as a therapeutic benefit from Cannabis medicine as well as other pregnancy-related ailments,” she predicts.

Of course, some women’s health concerns dovetail with conditions that affect the population as a whole, regardless of gender. “A well-known benefit from Cannabis is its anti-tumor and anti-emetic properties,” Whiters notes. “With this said, cancer will continue to be an area of interest. In addition, pain related to menstrual cycle has shown some promising therapeutic benefits.”

In markets that allow legal cannabis products, a variety of specialty products have been introduced that focus specifically on women-specific conditions. Cannabis infused suppositories like those manufactured by Fairwinds Cannabis are designed for women seeking relief from menstrual pain. Infused personal lubricants are also available in a variety of forms, including the those offered by education-focused company Velvet Swing, led by Mistress Matisse.

As regulations change in favor of safe and clean cannabis products, there is a great need for additional research into the therapeutic use of cannabis. Key to these efforts is the education of the public at large, and especially the healthcare professionals who work with them.

This research will expand our understanding of how cannabis can positively affect a variety of health conditions, and how women can use them to treat conditions specific to their personal health care.

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Trey Reckling is the founder and operator of the Academy of Cannabis Science. He works in collaboration with Seattle Central College's Cannabis Institute to offer quality, science-based education to members of the burgeoning legal cannabis industry.

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