Cannabis And Women's Health Part 1: Historic Evidence

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Each year hundreds of women are arrested for Cannabis related crimes in Philadelphia. Many of these women could benefit from further changes in Cannabis laws and policies. These changes may occur fairly soon, as activists from Philadelphia have active legislation for a medical cannabis bill. It is unclear which diseases will be covered under the law, as the bill has not been granted a hearing, yet. Cannabis and cannabinoids have been shown to be viable option for treatment in numerous women-related health conditions from obstetrics and gynecology (Russo 2002) to multiple sclerosis and pain, and Cannabis use has gender specific effects/concerns

The recreational effects of cannabis have been documented since ancient times, often appearing in medical texts and art. Some of the oldest documentation of Cannabis desribes medicinal preparations to treat female disorders. Perhaps modern science and medicine may explain the ancient lore behind Cannabis and women's health.

Cannabis has been apart of Egyptian medicine since the time of the pharaohs. For instance, the Ebers Papyrus contains instructions for using Cannabis to aid in child birth, having a positive effect on contractions when ground with honey and introduced into the vagina (Russo 2002, Ghalioungui 1987).

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) website contains a report which documents Ayurvedic and Arabic texts, which describe the use of the plant in preparations for use as an aphrodisiac and pain relief.

The earliest references in European and Western appear in the 11th century as a treatment for sore breasts. When applied it can reduce swelling and "if there is a gathering of diseased matter, it will purge it out (Russo 2002)." This could be a references to notable anti-breast cancer effects of ingreidients found on the Cannabis plant.

In the United States, preparations of the plant gained acceptance as described in the Dispensatory of the United States (1854) , which noted the ability of the plant to "hasten" childbirth without the use of anesthesia.

Dr.Ethan Russo has reviewed the historical and clinical information on Cannabis and women's health, concluding his research article with a list women health problems that the plant has been used for: "menstrual irregularity, menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea, threatened abortion, hyperemesis gravidarum, childbirth, postpartum hemorrhage, toxemic seizures, dysuria, urinary frequency, urinary retention, gonorrhea,menopausal symptoms, decreased libido, and as a possible abortifacient."

Dr. Russo goes on to conclude, "A few intriguing issues remain. Is cannabis truly an abortifacient? Our four

specific references are equivocal, one ancient (Darmesteter 1895), one old (Short1751), and two modern (Merzouki, Ed-derfoufi, and Molero Mesa 2000;Merzouki 2001), but these and current epidemiological data would seem to indicate

that cannabis does not produce this effect sui generis. Perhaps its actual roleis one to mitigate side effects of the active components.Meaning that the plant may have been used to counter the side effects of other abortifacient plants or drugs.

Dr. Russo goes on to say, "Numerous citations historically support the notion that cannabis is quite potent in its obstetric and gynecological actions, with specific attestation that medical benefits are frequently obtained at doses that are sub-psychoactive. The therapeutic ratio of cannabis with respect to cognitive impairment seems generous".

Many more ancient claims are abundant throughout human history. The recent discovery of the endocannabinoid system has allowed researchers and doctors to provide some explanations. Given the long history of Cannabis in women's health and medicine, further research may provide treatments for many difficult to treat conditions.

Source: Cannabis and Women's Health Part 1: Historic Evidence - Philadelphia medical marijuana |
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