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This New Study Will Test if Cannabis Can Treat Endometriosis

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Apr 19, 2023   
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Researchers from Western Sydney University will soon begin a first-of-its-kind study to test if cannabis can treat the painful symptoms of endometriosis.

Over the next three years, the research team will use ultrasound scanners to see if the endometriosis lesions of participants respond to the CBD and THC oils they’re given.

Cannabis and endometriosis

Endometriosis is a disease that affects the lining of the uterus, causing it to grow into other parts of the body such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. These new growths can cause scarring, pain, and fertility issues. It’s thought the condition affects 10% of women of reproductive age.

As cannabis has been known to treat chronic pain related to other conditions – and many people living with endometriosis in Australia are already known to use it as a treatment – the researchers at Western Sydney University were interested to properly test the drug’s effects on the condition in a randomized controlled trial.

“Our previous research has shown that people living with endometriosis in Australia and New Zealand are using cannabis, mostly from illicit sources, to manage their pain and other associated symptoms,” Mike Armour, an associate professor at the NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University – and principal investigator of the study – said in a statement.

“These people self-reported positive experiences with cannabis use including reduction in pain, improvements in sleep, mood and gastrointestinal functions and credited it with allowing them to effectively manage their endometriosis symptoms and live a better quality of life,” he added.

“However, there is still a lot we don’t know about how or why cannabis may affect endometriosis symptoms and possibly slow lesion progression. The trial will allow us to determine the effective dosage range, ideal THC to CBD ratio, duration of treatment and so forth.”

Over 26 weeks, Armour and his colleagues plan to give 126 participants with endometriosis either a CBD isolate, a 1:1 CBD:THC oil, or a placebo. Within a 52-week follow-up period, the participants will then undergo ultrasound scans, which will show if their endometriosis lesions have responded to the oils or not.

The trial will receive $660,000 in funding from the Wilson Foundation, a private philanthropic organization with a focus on funding health research.

“It is imperative that we invest in progressive approaches in the treatment of endometriosis,” Karen Wilson, chair of the Wilson Foundation, said in a statement.

“We are optimistic that this trial will create improved outcomes for those with this systemic disease.”

Although led by Armour and his team at Western Sydney University, the trial – which is scheduled to begin near the end of the year – will be coordinated between researchers at Deakin University, Macquarie University, the University of Tasmania, UNSW Sydney, the University of Sydney, the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick, Endometriosis Australia, and the National Endometriosis Clinical and Scientific Trials Network.

OnTracka App – a personal health monitor app specializing in medical cannabis – will provide support for electronic data capture for this study and the medicinal cannabis products will be provided by the Australian Natural Therapeutics Group.


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