Cannabis and women’s health
Did you know women have used cannabis for specific ailments for thousands of years?
Cannabis is finally legal, and Canadian women have questions. History shows we’ve used marijuana therapeutically for a long time, and science says it could have positive implications on some aspects of female health.
It may strike you as odd that “pot”, the drug your parents and teachers told you to avoid, has been legalized in Canada. Prohibition and criminalization have led many to believe that cannabis is inherently harmful, but a combination of historical evidence and clinical research tells us that not only have women used cannabis for specific ailments for thousands of years—it’s use might in fact improve certain areas of our health.
- Heart disease, stroke, and diabetes
The “munchies” might have you believe that cannabis users gain weight and suffer from metabolic-related diseases at a higher rate than people who don’t use cannabis, but a study conducted at the University of Miami found that, contrary to the stereotype, women who partake had smaller average waist circumferences by several inches, making them less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Both men and women who used cannabis also had lower prevalences of most of the five conditions that contribute to metabolic syndrome, meaning they were 54 percent less likely to suffer from it than people who had never used cannabis.
- In the bedroom
Many women suffer from anxiety, chronic pain, and trauma that can make sex uncomfortable or difficult. Women have used cannabis as both a topical pain reliever, aphrodisiac, and mood lifter for thousands of years: In ancient Egypt, cannabis was applied to the inside of the vagina to ease the pain of both sex and childbirth. In Soviet Russia, it was used similarly, to stimulate desire and relieve discomfort. You may have also heard that Queen Victoria used cannabis to help with her monthly cramps. Today, topical cannabis products can be made and applied as massage oils and even lubricants, and are lauded by many cannabis-using sex therapists as the magic ingredient for women who suffer from pain during sex. Other say consuming a little bit of cannabis before intercourse can relieve pre-sex nerves—just be sure to use a strain high in the non-intoxicating compound CBD and low in the euphoric THC, to reduce your chances of unpleasant effects.
- Mental health and well-being
You may have had an experience with cannabis as a young person and, under the circumstances— it was still illegal, you were underage, and the product was probably sketchy—it brought on feelings of anxiety. Today, clinical research shows that cannabis can in fact be used to reduce anxiety, thanks to the increased study of CBD, a non-intoxicating compound that can relieve feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Dr. Zach Walsh, a UBC psychology professor who has studied cannabis and mental health for nearly a decade, says compared to SSRIs, cannabis can often have a better safety profile for individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, and PTSD, with fewer side effects.
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Amanda Siebert is the author of The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life. Follow her on Twitter (@amanda_siebert) and learn more at littlebookofcannabis.com and amandasiebert.com