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Menopause and medical cannabis – how we’re tackling the stigma

A new event will explore how medical cannabis can help women manage symptoms of menopause

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Ahead of World Menopause Day on Monday 18 October, Cannabis Health, Integro Medical Clinics and Cannabis Patients Advocacy and Support Services (CPASS) announce a new event exploring how cannabis can help manage symptoms.

The third episode in groundbreaking webinar series exploring the role of medical cannabis in women’s health, will focus on the multi-faceted and often challenging experiences of menopause and perimenopause.

Taking place online on Tuesday 30 November, a panel of expert clinicians and patients will discuss the experiences of  women who have found these medicines helpful in managing their symptoms.

Menopause: An event image advertising a panel discussion around women's cannabis and menopause

Menopause and perimenopause symptoms are chronically poorly treated in the modern healthcare system.

Many women are frequently, simply told to ‘manage their stress better’, ‘lose some weight’ or ‘do more exercise’ when seeking medical treatment for debilitating menopause symptoms which include anxiety, depression, insomnia, low libido, headaches and hot flushes, amongst others.

This lack of recognition can be  both cultural and medical. Women often feel ashamed to speak openly about their experiences due to stigma and many doctors lack the training and time to treat symptoms effectively.

Menopause management

Increasingly women are finding cannabinoids helpful in managing some of their menopause symptoms.

Since the legalisation of cannabis-based medicines two years ago, female patients have been able to discover that the rebalancing of their endocannabinoid system can be incredibly helpful in the management of conditions ranging from Endometriosis, bladder and nerve pain, gynaecological pain and PMS to mental health conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Aimed at both the general public and caregivers, the event will explore the experiences of women who have lived with perimenopause and menopause symptoms and how they have found cannabis-based medicines helpful.

Expert speakers:

Dr Sally Ghazaleh

Dr Sally Ghazaleh, MENOPAUSE EVENT

Dr Sally Ghazaleh is a pain management specialist

Women’s health consultant at Integro Clinics. She specialises in managing patients with lower back pain, neck pain, neuropathic pain, abdominal pain, cancer pain and complex regional pain syndrome.

 

Dr Mayur Bodani

Dr Mayur Bodani

A neuropsychiatrist with over 25 years of experience, he has successfully treated many patients with psychiatric disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, psychosis, dementia and many other conditions.

 

Sarah Higgins CNS

Sarah Higgins CNS

Sarah is a clinical nurse specialist, with over 10 years of experience working in the NHS. She is also the women’s health lead at non-profit organisation CPASS Nurses Arm.

 

Patient speakers:

Lauren

Lauren

Having been a successful mental health nurse for 30 years, Lauren had to give up her career after being diagnosed with primary progressive MS. She has found cannabis medicines helpful in dealing with her MS symptoms and menopausal symptoms.

 

Rachel Mason

menopause

Rachel Mason

Rachel is founder of ‘Our Remedy’, a wellness brand for women. She has found CBD to be very helpful in dealing with her menopausal symptoms.

 

Patient story

Lauren worked successfully as a mental health nurse for 30 years before menopause symptoms, alongside the symptoms of her primary progressive multiple sclerosis became so debilitating that she could no longer work and found daily life too difficult to handle.

“When I discovered cannabis medicines (CBMP’s), they completely changed my life. CBMP’s eased my anxiety and meant that I could get a decent night’s sleep. The fact that I was well-rested, meant that I could start to lightly exercise again, which was unthinkable a year ago,” Lauren said.

Medical cannabis has helped Lauren to deal with anxiety, brain fog, and gave her an overall sense of wellbeing. Lauren has found cannabis medicines have given her life back, she can once again exercise and return to her daily routine.

The webinar takes place on Tuesday 30 November at 7pm and is completely free of charge, go to the Eventbrite link here to register.

 

Integro Medical Clinics Ltd always recommends remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition while using cannabis-based medicines. The Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them.

Website: www.integroclinics.com
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @clinicsintegro

 

Read more: Canadian study shows more women using cannabis for menopause

Women's health

Medical cannabis and pregnancy – what you need to know

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Endometriosis – how a prescription for cannabis “changed everything”

Amy Bowles was diagnosed with endometriosis in her late 30s

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Endometriosis - how a prescription for cannabis "changed everything"
Amy Bowles, 42, is a musician and trainee music therapist.

After decades of living with unbearable pain every month, Amy Bowles was diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis.

For most of her life Amy Bowles thought she just had “bad periods”. 

Every month for several days the pain would be so unbearable that she couldn’t walk or function at all. Sometimes the pain was so bad she blacked out.

I’ve had heavy periods all my life and a lot of pain and discomfort,” says Amy, 42, a musician and trainee music therapist.

“I’d go to my GP, but I’d just be given painkillers. I moved around a lot when I was younger so no one noticed that I was saying the same thing.”

For Amy, being bedridden with pain every month was normal, but in her late 30s when she met her partner, he became concerned at how much she was suffering.

“He would tell me what had happened because I’d black out or not remember things, and he became really upset about it,” she explains.

“I thought this was just how periods were – I’d really normalised what was going on with me.”

US research programme studies cannabinoids in ovarian cancer

Amy was finally referred to a specialist after her partner attended a GP appointment with her and refused to leave until she was taken seriously. 

In August 2019, at the age of 40 she underwent a laparoscopy and was diagnosed with stage four endometriosis and adenomyosis, with a number of cysts and fibroids discovered on her organs.

“It was a huge fight to get that diagnosis,” says Amy.

“It was a relief and hugely validating to suddenly find myself in a room with doctors where I spoke the same language as them, because previously women’s pain hadn’t seemed like it was taken seriously.”

But despite the validation of finally getting a diagnosis, the realisation that treatments were limited and services stretched, followed closely behind.

Amy has been on the waiting list for surgery since August 2019 and she’s not alone. Recent data revealed that since the pandemic, gynaecology waiting lists have soared by over 60 per cent. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, over 500,000 women are currently waiting for help.

Amy was prescribed liquid morphine while she waited.

“It does deal with the pain, but it’s highly dissociative,” she says.

“I don’t like not being present in my life just because I’m in pain.”

When she came across The Medical Cannabis Clinics, a private clinic prescribing cannabis medicines to thousands of patients in the UK, she feared she wouldn’t meet the criteria as endometriosis “isn’t widely acknowledged as a chronic illness”.

But despite her fears that she wouldn’t be taken seriously, her first appointment with Dr Farrah Ayob couldn’t be further from those she had experienced in her years of being dismissed by mainstream medicine. 

“I think I cried during my first consultation,” says Amy.

“It was the first time I had had such a detailed conversation with a medical practitioner, who was interested in my pain, but also in my mental health and that was a revelation. She listened to me and it was hugely validating.”

Amy says her cannabis prescription has “completely changed everything”.

“Before my appointment I didn’t really know what to expect or what I was really asking them for, I thought I was asking them for pain management, but the doctor wanted to talk a lot about my mental health, which I thought was great,” she adds.

“I’ve never been asked by a nurse or doctor how I am.”

Amy is prescribed a sativa flower for pain management, but it has also helped with her anxiety.

She explains: “The main difference I have noticed is that I was trapped in a cycle of chronic pain, between the actual pain itself and the fear of the pain. Those two things just kept feeding into each other, so my symptoms were just getting worse and worse. Since I’ve started using cannabis it has broken that cycle.”

Combining medical cannabis, which Amy uses as and when she needs it, with an organic vegan diet, exercise and as much good rest as possible, some months she doesn’t even need to reach for the morphine.

“My endometriosis can be quite unpredictable and can flare up without much warning. With the best will in the world, I can get eight hours of sleep a night, eat really well and try to reduce stress, but then one thing can trigger it. The cannabis is there when I need it,” says Amy.

“I’m not saying it has got rid of everything. It’s part of a multifaceted approach that I have taken to my health, but that treatment has enabled me to connect to the body and mind and realise that those things aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s enabled me to care for myself in a different way.”

And she’s now starting to open up more about her condition to those close to her.

“Endometriosis is a very lonely disease. It’s only those who have it who really understand what you’re going through, so it’s very, very hard for many women and their partners,” she says.

“I didn’t tell anybody about it for a long time, but I’ve become a lot braver in the last year and I’ve started sharing it with people wider than my immediate family.

“I’m being reminded of times when I wasn’t able to walk or screamed the place down and woke everybody up, which I can’t even remember because every month when the period is over, you store it away and forget about it because you just don’t want to be ill.”

She’s also sharing her experience with medical cannabis, in the hope of helping other women.

“I’m very vocal about it, but it’s important for people to make their own decision. There’s a lot of stigma around cannabis and until it’s more widely accepted within our society, I don’t think women will seek it out or even know about it,” she says.

“I’m very lucky to have been able to pay for this, but now I would sacrifice other things to be able to access it, because it affects my quality of life so much.

“There needs to be a more holistic approach to women’s health, the way things are, doctors [in the NHS]  are only treating the pathology, not the person and that’s really what seems to be missing.”

Find out more at www.themedicalcannabisclinics.com

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Cannabis legalisation not linked to adverse birth outcomes – study

Researchers studied the relationship between the liberalisation of cannabis laws and key indicators of child health

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Cannabis legalisation not linked to adverse birth outcomes - study
Studies assessing the potential impacts of cannabis exposure during pregnancy are mixed.

Legalisation of cannabis in the US is not linked to any significant adverse outcomes for  child health, according to a recent study.

New data shows that changes in legal status of cannabis in US states is not associated with increases in adverse clinical birth outcomes.

Researchers at Purdue University studied the relationship between the liberalisation of state-level cannabis laws and two key indicators of child health – birthweight and gestational age.

Their findings were published in the journal Population Research and Policy Review.

US research programme studies cannabinoids in ovarian cancer

While the authors reported a trend which indicated a reduction in average birthweight and gestational age for some groups of women following the relaxation of cannabis penalties, they acknowledged that these changes were not linked to any “increases in clinically meaningful birth indicators associated with adverse child health.”

The findings are similar to those reported in a 2021 study which found “no statistically significant effect of medical cannabis laws on the proportion of newborn hospitalisations”. 

The authors concluded: “Our findings indicate that cannabis policy liberalisation may be contributing to lower average birth weights and reduced average gestational age, but not in a manner that has increased low birthweight (<2500 g) infants or preterm (<37 weeks) births. 

“These results indicate that while cannabis policies have not led to increases in adverse clinical birth outcomes overall, these trends are worth monitoring to ensure that increases in clinically relevant child health outcomes do not emerge as the nationwide trend toward liberalised cannabis policy persists. “

They added: “Although our study does not show substantial changes in adverse birth outcomes, policymakers should be attentive to opportunities to strengthen child health by considering policies that minimise consumption, particularly heavier forms of consumption, by prospective parents.

While the evidence base around the effects of cannabis use during pregnancy on perinatal is growing, studies assessing the potential impacts of cannabis exposure are mixed.

Some observational data has identified a link between exposure and low birth weight and/or an increased risk of preterm birth. However others have failed to substantiate these claims once adjusting for other factors, such as tobacco smoking.

The majority of the existing studies have been done on recreational cannabis, accessed through the illicit market, which tends to contain higher levels of THC than that in medicinal cannabis.

There have been very limited, if any, studies exploring the effect of prescribed cannabis on perinatal health, as advice from clinicians is that women should refrain from using cannabis medicinally or otherwise whilst pregnant or breastfeeding.  

 

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