Marijuana and…menopause?

Posted by on Nov 7, 2008 in Uncategorized | 7 comments

I was intrigued when a colleague of mine sent me research galleys of a new paper he’s co-authored. The subject matter? Confirmation that marijuana has potentially been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.

The new research, published online in the advanced edition of the Journal of Experimental Botany,* focuses on the contents of a 2700 year old grave found in the Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region in China. The grave reportedly belonged to a shaman of the Gushi clan. The current study expanded on earlier research to confirm the botanical, photochemical and genetic characteristics of the agent, and that it contained psychoactive components, thereby clarifying how it was likely used.

So, why is this important and what does it have to do with menopause anyhow?

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a huge proponent of integrative medicine, i.e. combining the best of western and eastern medicine to come up with an effective therapeutic approach. In fact, I’ve written numerous posts on the value of Chinese medicine to women in menopause who are looking for alternative strategies for their symptoms.

And so, this research lends further proof that herbal medicine has been practiced for centuries and for good reason: it works. Not for everybody (what drug does?) and not all the time and clearly, careful selection of standardized products is essential, as is consulting with a practitioner certified in herbal medicine. I provide links on this site to a few organizations where you can delve deeper into these alternative paths.

Personally, I would be thrilled if researchers discovered that cannabis can be effectively used to treat menopausal symptoms. But in the interim, I am happy to report that it has been shown to be effective in relieving the pain of migraines, reducing involuntary muscle contractions associated with multiple sclerosis and of course, calming nausea in people undergoing chemotherapy.

For critics who say that smoking a drug counteracts all of its potential benefits, I say, take a look at what GW pharmaceuticals is doing with their oral spray, Sativex.

Sativex removes the psychoactive components or cannabinoids and leaves the therapeutic form intact. Thus far, well designed clinical trials have shown it to be effective for pain of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and nerve or neuropathic conditions.

So I salute Dr. Ethan Russo and his Chinese colleagues Hong-En Jiang,  Xiao Li and others, for their dedication and hard work and a wonderful paper.

Thank you for furthering proof that there is and has always been a place for alternative strategies.

*Note – this has not yet been posted  in the online edition of the journal. Full citation is:

Russo EB, Jiang HE, Li X et al. Phytochemical and genetic analyses of ancient cannabis
from Central Asia. J Experim Bot. doi:10.1093/jxb/ern260.

Abstract:
The Yanghai Tombs near Turpan, Xinjiang-Uighur
Autonomous Region, China have recently been excavated
to reveal the 2700-year-old grave of a Caucasoid
shaman whose accoutrements included a large cache
30 of cannabis, superbly preserved by climatic and burial
conditions. A multidisciplinary international team demonstrated
through botanical examination, phytochemical
investigation, and genetic deoxyribonucleic acid
analysis by polymerase chain reaction that this mate-
35 rial contained tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive
component of cannabis, its oxidative degradation
product, cannabinol, other metabolites, and its synthetic
enzyme, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid synthase,
as well as a novel genetic variant with two single
40 nucleotide polymorphisms. The cannabis was presumably
employed by this culture as a medicinal or
psychoactive agent, or an aid to divination. To our
knowledge, these investigations provide the oldest
documentation of cannabis as a pharmacologically
active agent, and contribute to the medical and 45
archaeological record of this pre-Silk Road culture.
Key words: Archaeology, botany, cannabis, cannabinoids,
archaeobotany, ethnopharmacology,

7 Comments

  1. 11-7-2008

    wow. i can’t even leave a wise crack on this one. very impressive!

  2. 11-7-2008

    Fascinating!

  3. 11-7-2008

    Amy – it is impressive. But crack away; it’s your “na-cha”
    Wendy – agree!

    A few folks have followed the link and say they can’t find the article – it should be posted online today.

  4. 11-7-2008

    I had to look up what most of those words meant! :) Have a nice weekend!

  5. 11-21-2008

    I have realized that when I smoked marijuana (or Hashish) all the menopause symptoms disappeared.
    I have asked my gynecologist who agreed with me. It seems that doctors are aware of it, but of course none of them will say it loud and clear.
    I have stopped my hormone treatment and smoked quite regularly.
    Now, I decided to take a break from smoking, but within 3 days, the menopause symptoms reappeared.
    I don’t know what to do. keep on smoking ou renew the hormon treatment ?
    Maybe instead of smoking I should prepare some Hash coffee ou hash cakes?
    Any body has an advice ?
    In advance thanks for your replies

  6. 10-22-2010

    when i was in high school i smoked pot and now i am going thru menopluse and i havent found any thing that help me like the marijuana without it i am a bitch and with it you can put up with me …when i dont smoke it i hurt all over im mean i dont care if i hurt anybody feeling,i sit around and cry all the time i cant funtion my daily life… if you smoke it everybody thinks you are adrug addict which i am not it just you go to doctors and they say it is depression and its not if it was leagal women going thru menopluse could have the releif that they are looking for …they can go on with life more …and do there everyday without pain,nightsweat,hotflashes,irrabilty,and just cope with things alot better…so i am for medical marijuana..

    • 6-21-2011

      PEOPLE THIS MENOPAUSE THING IS VERY REAL FOR SOME OF US FEMALES! WHY DO WE JUDGE THE POT SO STRONGLY AND NOT THE HELMETS THE BIKERS SHOULD BE WEARING,SORRY MY BROTHER IS IN THE HOSPITAL BECAUSE NO HELMET. SO ANYWAY HERE IS MY POINT….THIS PLUS THAT THEN THROW IN THE DEATh of mom,dad,and,sister in last18 months……IF THATS NOT ENOUGH THE FAMILY WANTS TO CRUCIFY SOMEONE SO GUESS WHO GETS THAT?SO AGAIN MY POINT IS THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND MY FAMILYS ABUSE OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS LEAVES ME TO MAKE MY CHOICE.PILLS KILLED MY MOM AND SISTER, THE MARIJUANA HELPS ME CPOE WITH ALL THE B.S.NOW I AM SEEING THE PRICE OF THE STUFF AND HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION ,CRACK IS PROBABLY LESS EXEPENSIVE. WE ARE IN OUR BODIES,THESE CREATIONS OF GOD AND WE EACH KNOW WHAT HELPS.QUIT MAKING LIFE SO HARD,COMPASSION AND UNDERSTANDING.WA WA WA ALL THE WAY HOME

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