Endometriosis is a chronic and often painful disorder that affects approximately 10% of those assigned female at birth in their reproductive age. This condition is marked by the growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus, causing inflammation and discomfort.
A recent article in Stuff describes the painful journey that Bindi Irwin, the daughter of Steve Irwin, went through to get a diagnosis of endometriosis. Bindi suffered from severe pain for years, but she was dismissed by doctors who told her that her pain was “normal” or “all in her head.” It took her 10 years to get a diagnosis.
The symptoms of endometriosis can be similar to other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory disease. As a result, many with endometriosis are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.
Current conventional medical treatment for endometriosis is a combination of pain medication, hormone therapy, and surgery. However, these treatments do not always work, and they can have side effects.
The emerging field of medicinal cannabis presents promising avenues for both symptom management and understanding the underlying causes.
Current Thinking on Endometriosis and the Endocannabinoid System
Recent studies have focused on the relationship between endometriosis and the endocannabinoid system, a complex cell-signaling system that plays a crucial role in regulating numerous physiological processes.
Endocannabinoid System Deficiency Theory
A theory gaining traction is the concept of endocannabinoid deficiency in relation to endometriosis (Russo, 2016). This deficiency might contribute to the development and persistence of the condition, as the endocannabinoid system helps regulate cell growth and inflammation.
Medicinal Cannabis and Endometriosis
Medicinal cannabis has been found to have several benefits in managing endometriosis:
- Pain Management: Cannabinoids like CBD and THC have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing chronic pain associated with endometriosis (Woodhams et al., 2017).
- Inflammation Reduction: Cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties that may mitigate some symptoms (Nagarkatti et al., 2009).
- Improvement in Quality of Life: Patients report an enhanced quality of life and decreased reliance on traditional pain medications (Armstrong et al., 2020).
A New Zealand Pilot Study
CannaPlus+ along with Helius Therapeutics and Medleaf Therapeutics have teamed up with Endo Warriors Aotearoa and the University of Otago to run a NZ pilot study on endometriosis and medicinal cannabis. The study is looking at the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis for pain relief, inflammation, and other symptoms of endometriosis. We are nearly full with 28 of the 30 required participants for this trial but if all goes well then we are likely to see a bigger trial likely late next year.
If you or someone you know might be interested in participating in this groundbreaking New Zealand clinical research on Endometriosis, please contact Dr Claire Henry at University of Otago, Wellington firstname.lastname@example.org
If you or someone you know are battling with endometriosis please contact Endo Warriors Aotearoa. If you are interested on how medicinal cannabis can help with the symptoms of endometriosis, contact our dedicated team, who will assess eligibility and provide comprehensive information on medicinal cannabis treatment in New Zealand.
The intersection between endometriosis and the endocannabinoid system offers fascinating insights into both the condition itself and innovative treatment possibilities. Medicinal cannabis is emerging as a promising complementary therapy, and ongoing research such as this pilot study is vital in advancing our understanding and care.
- Russo, E. B. (2016). Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 1(1), 154–165.
- Woodhams, S. G., Sagar, D. R., Burston, J. J., & Chapman, V. (2017). The role of the endocannabinoid system in pain. Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, 227, 119-143.
- Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Medicinal Chemistry, 1(7), 1333-1349.
- Armstrong, G., Degenhardt, L., Felson, M., & Hall, W. (2020). Medical cannabis laws and opioid overdose mortality. International Journal of Drug Policy, 75, 102544.