Endocannabinoids for Endometriosis?

Endometriosis, although not frequently discussed by news media, affects more than 200,000 women in the US every year! During endometriosis, endometrial tissue, which usually grows inside the uterus, manages to transplant itself outside the uterus and continue growing. This growth can cause fibers of cells to form, making organs stick together, which results in severe pain. However, perhaps worse, the cells continue to behave as a healthy uterine lining would; they continue to swell, break down, and release blood along with the natural menstrual cycle. This activity can result in cysts forming, which leads to more pain, infertility, and eventually death. Sadly, while we have medicines that alleviate symptoms and decrease frequency of menstruation, we have nothing that eradicates the growths directly. In most severe cases, therefore, doctors are forced to operate to remove areas where endometrial tissue has bonded outside the uterus. Surgery, however, is always risky. Removing such growths comes with “significant morbidity”. In past articles we’ve discussed how cannabinoids are being used to halt tumor growth in cell culture experiments and sometimes in actual rodent tumors. What essentially occurs is that cells with high growth profiles are encouraged to deactivate, leaving “healthy” cells alone. Although endometriosis does not involve cancerous growth, it does involve rapidly growing cells adhering outside of normal locations. As a result, researchers have postulated for some time that cannabinoids might also pose a treatment solution to endometriosis or at least be used to slow its development. One study from The American Journal of…