Divine Alchemy Yoga

The Role of the Endocannabinoid System in Female Reproductive Health

The ECS is shown to play a crucial role in regulation of the female reproductive system

Women have held a long-standing relationship with medicinal herbs, wisdom, and rituals throughout history. 

Going as far back as ancient Egypt, women have been utilising plant-based medicine for pain and stress relief. Dating back to at least 1500 BCE ancient Egyptian texts describe endocannabinoid medicine to help manage and control labour pain

In the 1800’s the British Medical Journal, published two research papers about the application of medicinal cannabis for menstruation and bleeding. 

And in 1988, scientists were able to tie the story together after discovering the body’s own regulatory system, the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), at which point the connection between the female reproductive system and cannabis as medicine really clicked. 

The Endocannabinoid System

As a critical modulatory system, the Endocannabinoid System is known as our body’s ‘Master Regulator’, influencing at least 15 major functions in the human body, including: 

  • pain 
  • Inflammation
  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • nervous system
  • and reproductive system function

The (ECS) is a complex network of neurotransmitters, receptors, and enzymes that play a vital role in regulating various physiological processes in the body, including reproductive health. The Endocannabinoid System (link to blog: What is the ECS?) has two key receptor sites that are located throughout the body, called CB1 and CB2 receptors.
It has been described as being perhaps the most important physiological system and enables optimal health through a network of chemical signals and receptors that are regulated by naturally produced molecules, called endocannabinoids.

The Endocannabinoid System + the Female Reproductive System

The ECS is an essential regulator of women’s reproductive health, with its receptors found in key reproductive organs and tissues, and are particularly concentrated in the ovaries. It’s shown to play a crucial role in the regulation of the female reproductive system, including the: 

  • menstrual cycle
  • Ovulation
  • Fertilisation
  • and pregnancy

The ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes are highly concentrated in CB1 receptors, with CB2 receptors existing predominantly in the immune cells of the reproductive system. Research shows that the ECS also plays a critical role in hormonal regulation, with CB1 activation potentially impacting oestrogen and progesterone levels, which are essential for regulating the menstrual cycle and supporting pregnancy.

The ECS + the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis 

The Endocannabinoid System is closely associated with the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis (HPO) creating a two-way communication network between the ECS, the HPA and steroid hormone production and effective secretion. 
The ovaries and other hormone regulating systems (like the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary gland) are also shown to have both CB1 and CB2 receptors and influenced by the dysregulation or regulation of the body’s endocannabinoid system.

Dysfunction of the ECS + Reproductive Health 

The imbalance and dysfunction of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) has been linked to a number of female reproductive disorders, particularly endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Dysfunction of the ECS system can also act as a contributing factor in a number of co-existing symptoms and imbalances in the body including pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, and temperature regulation. 

Treating the Endocannabinoid System can help to manage and treat those symptoms associated with reproductive changes and disorders:

  • Menopause

Regulating the ECS takes a multi-functional approach to relieving symptoms of menopause, like: irritability and mood changes, dysregulated metabolism, stress, nervous system dysfunction, and chronic pain. 

  • Endometriosis

As a chronic condition, people with endometriosis can suffer from a variety of symptoms, including that can present as dull, to unbearable. Balancing the ECS can help to bring relief to symptoms like: pain, heavy periods, bloating, anxiety, and fatigue. 

  • PCOS 

Treating the ECS can help to treat and manage symptoms of PCOS, including: hormone secretion, pain, and infertility. 

  • Chronic Pain

Chronic pain typically is most commonly associated with PCOS, endometriosis, and inflammation. Treating dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system can help to regulate and control pain, in addition to its associated symptoms: insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and depression. 

  • Anxiety + Depression

As a closely related regulatory body system, the ECS has an influence over nervous system regulation, playing a key role in the symptoms of nervous system dysregulation, including anxiety and depression. A common side effect of reproductive disorders and hormone imbalances, the ECS can help manage these symptoms. 

Working directly with the Endocannabinoid System to create homeostasis.

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