Is Cannabis a Natural PCOS Treatment? We Asked an Expert
P olycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder affecting one in 15 people with ovaries worldwide. It’s frequently painful and a cause of infertility.
Dr. Iris Crawford is a Seattle-based naturopathic physician specializing in hormonal issues and cannabis. She took the time to chat about the origins of the disorder, misconceptions surrounding the disease, and the use of cannabis to treat some of its most problematic side effects.
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Leafly: Your specialty is in hormonal variations. Do you work with a lot with PCOS patients in your practice?
Dr. Iris Crawford: I did a podcast [about PCOS] a couple of times which generated a lot of phone calls. I had women from around the country calling and going “help me!” because there’s just not a lot of options out there for women with PCOS. There’s a lot of information they aren’t getting from their general physicians.
I quickly learned about the different ways people have been helped by cannabis as medicine when they have so few other options—especially when managing chronic pain.
Dr. Iris Crawford
What’s one thing about PCOS that isn’t well understood?
Crawford: With the majority of PCOS sufferers, there is an issue that if never corrected, never lets you be free of the condition. It lies within insulin resistance. If you have insulin resistance and it continues to be untreated, you will constantly be in the pathology of irregular testosterone production and the entire gamut of symptoms that go with it. Even lean people can have insulin resistance.
Some providers treat weight as a symptom of PCOS, while others treat it as a root cause. Where do things fall in that spectrum? Is it different for everyone?
Crawford: It’s both. It’s very much a “chicken-and-egg” scenario. PCOS can occur while you have extra weight on your body, but insulin resistance also causes weight gain.
The other thing that causes insulin resistance is not weight but stress, especially in women. Stress causes high cortisol which promotes insulin resistance as well.
Tell us about your background using cannabis as a holistic treatment.
Crawford: When I grew up, I became very comfortable with recreational use around me because my mom used cannabis. It was never something that was scary for me. I’ve always found it harmless.
When I became a naturopathic doctor, of course, I could see the benefit of plant-based medicine as a whole. I took a class about the use of cannabinoids and how our endocannabinoid system evolved with the plant. I quickly learned about the different ways people have been helped by cannabis as medicine when they have so few other options—especially when managing chronic pain.
Especially pertaining to female reproductive issues like constant inflammation, how do you think cannabinoids can help in managing the chronic pain of PCOS as well as post-rupture treatment?
Crawford: Every type of pain has been successfully treated with cannabis, especially in terms of spasming muscle fibers—organ spasming, as well as general muscle spasms. It helps with the way our brain experiences pain.
It has so many benefits and so few side effects compared to any pain medication, namely something like Vicodin, which is addictive and constipates you. Cannabis is virtually free of side effects.
[Pain also] makes us irritable and grumpy, and a lot of people have major depression when they are chronic pain sufferers. Cannabis is beneficial for those things, too.
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Not to mention mood as it relates to the side effects of hormonal swings and PMS.
Crawford: I recently began to focus on outreach messages regarding women and depression. Women are two to four times more likely to attempt suicide.
Anxiety, depression, and insomnia are all issues related to hormone imbalances. Hormonal imbalances are twice as likely to happen in women, and this isn’t with women who are perimenopausal — I’ve treated a girl as young as 16 who was having panic attacks due to hormone imbalance. These hormonal imbalances are caused by stress which is part of a syndrome called Adrenal Fatigue. This has become an epidemic among women and I am dedicating the rest of my career to it.
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Crawford: And it comes back to the cortisol connection to blood sugar. Every woman who struggles with PCOS should be evaluated for adrenal fatigue as well as hormonal imbalance. It’s part of the whole picture. Facial hair and acne can also be typical complaints of sufferers with PCOS.
Most of the work I do with women will involve a weight loss component. I have an approach that helps take the extra weight off very quickly and then allows them to keep it off without dieting. It works as a reset to metabolism. It’s a huge piece of the puzzle for sufferers, as they have usually tried every diet out there.
Dietary advice can be very trendy.
Crawford: Yep. I work with women who can’t lose weight even on a keto diet, so it’s very frustrating. That’s where I become a detective. There is an underlying cause as to why your body won’t release that fat. Usually, it’s a hormone imbalance and/or a broken metabolism from a history of dieting, and also environmental toxins.
Oftentimes my experience with Western medicine has been reduced to a number on the scale. The vast majority of my doctors have focused on that number, which can bring a lot of guilt and shame into picture. The general conclusion is you’re sick because you’re fat.
Crawford: Yes, totally. You’ll often see the focus on BMI, which has no relevance to your general health. The Incredible Hulk would be obese according to BMI standards. Percentage of body fat is really where it’s at.
If someone wasn’t based in the Pacific Northwest, how could they access your service?
Crawford: I have patients calling from all over the country and I’m able to help them long distance. I don’t refer out because it’s so specialized. It’s called the Crawford Hormone Revitalization Method and it’s my specific specialty. It grew out of me seeing, on a nationwide level, women who were not getting the help they needed.
We discussed polycystic ovarian syndrome with Dr. Iris Crawford, a naturopathic physician who uses cannabis to treat symptom associated with PCOS.
Can CBD oil help with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? — BUD REVOLUTION
Mar 1, 2020 · 5 min read
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a relatively common hormonal disorder of women in their child-bearing years. The disorder often presents with prolonged or irregular menstrual periods and is associated with elevated levels of the male hormone (testosterone). The ovaries often make follicles but fail to release the eggs at regular intervals, hence women with PCOS often have difficulty conceiving a child.
The cause of PCOS remains unknown. However, it is important to make an early diagnosis of this syndrome because it does have high morbidity. Women with untreated PCOS can develop depression, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
How does PCOS present?
PC O S may present soon after puberty. The female may note irregular menstrual cycles, missed periods or may note a significant gain in weight. At the same time, the presence of high levels of the male hormone, testosterone, may lead to excess hair on the body, especially around the face. Some women may also develop hair thinning on the scalp and severe acne. All these symptoms are worse in women who are overweight.
What are the complications of PCOS?
Because the exact cause of PCOS is a mystery, it is difficult to treat PCOS. The condition is not harmless and if left untreated can lead to:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Fatty liver
- Metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions including high blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, abnormal levels of lipids- all these changes result in a very high risk for heart disease
- Anxiety, depression
- Sleep apnea
- Cancer of the uterus
How is PCOS managed?
Once the diagnosis of PCOS is made, the treatment is focussed on the treatment of acne, obesity, infertility, depression, anxiety and body hair. The treatment may involve medications and a change in lifestyle. Unfortunately, the treatment of PCOS is not satisfactory and while the medications may control some symptoms, they also have serious side effects.
Can CBD oil be used to treat PCOS?
Because of the unsatisfactory response to hormonal therapy, many women with PCOS have been turning to alternative remedies of which one is the use of CBD oil. The first thing to be stated is that CBD oil does not cure PCOS; nor is it a replacement for hormonal therapy. It is a complementary treatment that can be used with hormonal therapy.
However, it’s very important to buy CBD oil only from trusted brands. Due to the unregulated nature of this market, thousands of quality compromised brands sell CBD Oil. Find out the best CBD Oil brands in 2020 here.
Does CBD oil help patients with PCOS?
Yes, CBD oil can be used to manage many of the symptoms of PCOS like depression, anxiety, weight gain and irritability. CBD unfortunately does not affect the levels of the hormone and it is unlikely that the menstrual cycles can be regulated or hair growth can be decreased with CBD alone.
CBD oil also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, meaning it can reduce the vague body and joint pains often seen in PCOS. In addition, CBD oil works on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain which modulate mood, anxiety and depression. Thus, the agent can lessen the anxiety and depression and create an overall sense of well-being. CBD oil is also a great sedative. Because of anxiety, many people with PCOS are not able to get good sleep and thus the use of CBD oil just before bedtime can promote good sleep. Finally, CBD oil is known to be a great stress reliever.
How often do I need to take CBD oil for my PCOS?
Because PCOS is a chronic disorder, you will need to take CBD oil for a long time to reduce the symptoms.
What formula of CBD oil should I use?
There are many formulas of CBD oil on the market and the decision to use one formula over another is just a matter of personal choice. You can inhale the CBD, ingest it, chew it or use it as an edible- the essential health benefits are the same. Find out the best CBD Oil brands in 2020 here.
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How to get the maximal benefit from CBD oil for PCOS?
The best way to maximize the benefits of CBD oil for your PCOS is to make changes in your lifestyle. This means doing the following:
- Exercise regularly: By exercising, not only do you lose weight but this also prevents metabolic syndrome which is a complication of PCOS. By preventing the metabolic syndrome, you significantly lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. You can do any type of exercise; walking is as good as any physical activity, but the key is that you must be regular. Since PCOS is a chronic disorder, some type of physical activity is required in the long term. To avoid monotony, add variability to the exercise; you may swim, bike, jog, join a gym or go hiking.
- Maintain a healthy weight: By maintaining a healthy weight this also makes it easier to control blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy diet: Since many women with PCOS are obese, the key is to lower the body weight by eating healthy. Avoid fatty foods and skimp on processed foods because both are high in junk calories. Eat a diet rich in veggies, fruits, nuts, and cereals. If you feel like eating meat, go for seafood.
What dose of CBD oil should I use?
Always start with the lowest dose because there are no universal guidelines on dosage. Then you can gradually titrate the dose upwards on a weekly basis, depending on your response.
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Are there any studies to show the benefits of CBD oil in patients with PCOS?
Yes, there are many anecdotal reports on the use of CBD oil to manage the symptoms of PCOS. In addition, several studies have shown that CBD oil can lower stress and provide pain relief in gynecological disorders. The key is to buy the CBD oil from a reputable dealer. There are many brands of CBD oil on the market and they all vary in their quality and quantity. Thus, always buy your CBD oil from a reputable dealer or speak to someone who has used it before. Always buy a small amount first to determine if it works.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a relatively common hormonal disorder of women in their child-bearing years. The disorder often presents with prolonged or irregular menstrual periods and is…