Two years ago, TWB published a story I wrote on strains that have been known to help women manage chronic pain stemming from PMS/PMDD. Now dated, I penned that list before I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis in 2014. After a panicked trip to the emergency room revealed a potentially life-threating ectopic pregnancy; my right ovary had grown to the size of softball to boot. Since 2014, I have been working on my own recovery while translating my pain and experiences into cannabis advocacy that specifically addresses women's health issues such as: endometriosis, fibromyalgia, menopause and PMDD.
Back when I wrote my original TWB story, I was primarily a flower user who smoked joints on the regular or used bongs when available. Dabs and edibles were too strong and often anxiety inducing for a lightweight like myself. After my emergency surgery, everything changed. I was completely dependent on smokeless forms of cannabis because I could not risk jarring my incisions by coughing after a big hit. At first I was afraid to get "too high", but after my traumatic experience I needed the strength. I was in a lot of pain and the cannabis worked to manage my post-op, chronic pelvic-pain issues. I choose cannabis over Percocet because it works to dissipate my pain without interfering with my ability to work and complete daily tasks. I am not knocking those who prefer pills because Percocet does help diminish my infinite lower back pain: at the total expense of my sobriety.
With that said, I want to go beyond writing typical, 1-dimensional flower or concentrates reviews. Below, I have listed a comprehensive list of multiple psychoactive and non-psychoactive forms of cannabis pain management. Please note I am not a physician, however if you are experiencing chronic pain due to these issues, please contact your OB-GYN and schedule an appointment to discuss alternative pain management.
Before my surgery, smoking cannabis flower (or bud) was my preferred option. It was a quick method to manage pain -I only needed to medicate every couple of hours. Like missionary-style, flower is the "old faithful" staple of stoners. Some of the cons associated smoking flower is the smell, if trying to remain discreet while smoking extra-loud (see: pungent) herb. The smell penetrates my clothing, hair and neighboring accessories. Smell-proof storage is an absolute must. Despite the hassel, flower still holds a special place in my heart. If you are a cannabis beginner, start here.
-Gorilla Glue #4 (Hybrid)
The Cannabist explains GG's complex genetics in the best way here: "Chocolate Diesel x Sisdub sounds simple. Consider, then, that Chocolate Diesel is Chocolate Trip (which is ((Chocolate Thai x Indigo Diamond) x (Indigo Diamond x Chocolate Thai) crossed with Sour Diesel." Says Jake Browne.
Believe to be a California Orange X Skunk #1 cross.
Post-surgery, I freshly graduated from a seasoned flower smoker into a full-blown dab fiend. I prefer concentrates at this point in regards to pain management because they are easier on my lungs, stronger dosing, taste better, smell less and are easier to store on the go.
When I am in the comfort of my own home, I prefer using concentrates to dab my pain away. I compare dabbing to snowboarding in the sense that there is an expensive overhead cost to getting yourself started: dab rig, medical-grade nail, torch, butane, medical-grade dabbing tools, slick pads, carb caps and the list goes on. Alas, once you aquire a dab set up, the fun ensues. One of my favorite characteristics of concentrates is the "dab culture" which embodies: patients, glass blowers, concentrate producers and growers from the community, to socialize and build networks of community and access to safe medcine.
The dab community has largely been perceived as a "boys club", but let it be known: women partake just as heavily, just not as visibly. Some of us are mothers, or simply want to keep a professional public profile, sometimes both, or neither. Maybe we don't want your creepy-ass knowing our whereabouts when we sesh, k? Cannabis is technically legal, but Oregon employers can still lawfully fire employees if they test positive for THC metabolites in their bodies. In other words, there are still major risks associate to being a cannabis user, whether you are carded or not. Male or female. Note: the risk is even higher if you are a person of color.
Favorite concentrates for endo management:
-Gorilla Glue #4 (Hybrid)
(Note: I highly recommend this strain because it hits all my key qualities on what is embodied in a top-shelf dab. GG#4 potency, flavor and terpene profile goes down like velvet with each draw. The Sour Diesel X Chocolate Trip combo packs a complex punch that gets better with every hit. I prefer GG#4 phenotypes that are stronger in the Sour Diesel variety due to flavor and present terpenes. I deal with nausea on the regular due to endo and Sour D helps alleviate those issues. Chocolate-heavy GG#4 varieties are equally delicious, ideal for those looking for stronger indica qualities.)
-Durban Poison (African Sativa)
-Raspberry Kush (Indica)
When I'm on the go, my vape is a goddess-send. Small, undetectable and easily stored away when needed. Vape pens allow the easiest plug-and-chug approach to cannabis, making this another user-friendly option -especially for cannabis beginners. I believe vape pens are the best way to ensure proper dosage, without ever getting you too high. Perfect for daily commutes and medication breaks. My favorite Oregon brands are The Co2 Company and just about anything from Headline Alternatives! As a daily user, I prefer to medicate discreetly by vaping concentrates. The smell isn't nearly as strong and it doesn't require a breakable, expensive pipe (or rolling abilities) while on the go.
Organic Cannabis Oil:
Post surgery, I used full extraction cannabis oil (FECO) to heal and manage pain. Technically, cannabis oil can also count as an edible, but I am listing it under concentrates due to its potency. My FECO of choice is created by Sirius Extracts and it's the only cannabis oil that performs and dulls endo flare-ups. I have tried other varieties but no other product touches Sirius's medicinal strength.
I usually get my FECO in 10ml oral syringes. My partner would lay a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and in rows, freeze rice size dots for me to pop in my mouth and medicate when needed. The only downfall of FECO is the messy application (sticky and it stains), which is why I recommend freezing before use to ensure easy handling. As for dosing, start with one dot and wait one hour; eat another dot if you feel nothing. Cannabis oil is very strong, so always go light. When it kicks in, there is no turning back -similar to an edible experience.
Indeed, the most indulgent route to medicate. Edibles are a solid option when looking to harness the effects of cannabis without smoking. Eating an edible before bed is highly recommended because it reduces pain for extended amounts of time while inducing sleep. Edibles are a must-have post-surgery. When dealing with endo, edibles are a stronger answer when dabs or flower isn't cutting it. My favorite edibles are Elbe's Edibles based out of Portland, OR. Elbe's is female-owned cannabis company, and produces the best tasting edibles that are heavily medicated without sacrificing flavor.
Another favorite is Portland-based gummy company Sour Bhotz. These literal gummy robots or "Bhotz" are perfect for those on the go, looking to medicate on the low. When I am away from the home for extended amounts of time, keeping a pack of sour Bhotz on hand promises I will be pain-free. Potent & delicious, Sour Bhotz have been a major hit among patients through out the Oregon market.
Topicals & Transdermal Patches:
Topicals are a wonderful, smoke-free, non-psychoactive mode of cannabis. Topicals are ideal for local pain, minor bruises, sprains, skin conditions and all-around aches and pains. As for transdermal THC or CBD patches I have not found one that works. Granted, that is my personal opinion, but the THC patch I tested had absolutely no effect on me at all. The same can be said for the CBD patch, I felt no reduction of pain. With that said, I am positive someone will get the transdermal patch right eventually. For now, it seems like a scam.
FULL DISCLOUSURE: I am working on my own cannabis body skincare line called Salvation Body Care. I specialize in making medicated salves and bath bombs. Check it out here. Below, I have listed other trusted, patient-recommended topical companies that have worked wonders on patients:
Empower Oil: Owned by cannabis advocate Trista Okel, who created a cannabis roll-on oil and can be used on just about anything. Orkel coined the term, "put it where is hurts" in regards to the range of uses. Empower just came out with a new "Personal Touch Oil" (for those looking to medicate their sexy time) read this product review on Empower written by Willamette Week: here.
I use topicals to help alleviate pelvic cramping, back pain and migraines. I apply directly the affected area and allow the medicated salve to penetrate my skin. Pro-tip: put a hot washcloth over the area you applied salve. It feels INCREDIBLE when dealing with gut-wrenching cramps. Confession: I am a huge fan of baths. Hot baths are one of my non-psychoactive ways to manage endo. When I get the time to spare, I treat myself to a relaxing medicated bath. Divine.
I hope this list has helped you potentially navigate new and old ways of medicating safely with cannabis. The next step is getting female-specific health issues like endometriosis on the "qualifying conditions" list so women feel comfortable obtaining medical cards. More and more cannabis studies are being published, but research still needs to be done on endometriosis. Currently, there is no cure, but this is only the beginning. I remain hopeful.
For more information check out these resources for more info on women's health and cannabis:
My Story on Endo: http://issuu.com/nwleaf/docs/oregonleafjuly2015