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Some women desperate for relief from chronic endometriosis pain have found that cannabis provides more effective symptom relief than other over-the-counter or prescribed drugs, a new study shows.

Of the 213 women surveyed who had ever used cannabis – either prescribed or illegally – for their endometriosis symptoms, 170 (nearly 80 percent) were currently users.

The majority of those who stopped using cannabis did so because of its illegal status or because they could not find a regular supplier. None of the women stopped because it did not effectively control or alleviate their symptoms.

The paper was written by researchers from the University of Otago in collaboration with researchers from the University of Western Sydney and Endometriosis New Zealand. While the researchers stressed that the paper was not being made to advocate the use of illegal cannabis, they highlighted a possible lack of effective drugs available, access to health services, and women’s desperation with chronic pain.

The study co-author, Dr. Geoff Noller, a research fellow in Otago’s General Practice and Rural Health Department, says the study clearly showed that cannabis provided patients with some relief or benefit, with 98 percent reporting no negative side effects.

An online cross-sectional survey of people who use cannabis for health reasons was carried out between May and July 2019. This article then recorded the subgroup of those in whom endometriosis itself was identified as being treated with cannabis.

“It also suggests that for these patients at least, current medical treatment or treatment for their conditions was not meeting their needs.

“After realizing this, let’s not say for a second that all women with endometriosis should use cannabis – that would be irresponsible and inaccurate. Cannabis could be an option, but it is important that this option have solid information on the pros and cons Contains disadvantages This enables clinicians and patients to make informed decisions. “

Of the 213 women in the study, the majority used cannabis for pain relief (96 percent) and to improve sleep (96 percent). Respondents said their symptoms were “much better” with pain (81 percent), sleep (79 percent), and nausea or vomiting (61 percent).

About 81 percent of women said cannabis had reduced their normal drug use, and 50 percent had stopped taking their medication entirely – most commonly analgesics such as acetaminophen and opioids.

“Again, this may indicate that patients’ current treatments and medications may not meet their needs. This could be for a variety of reasons, including that cannabis may be more effective at treating some of the patient’s symptoms and potentially fewer negative side effects than some Prescription drugs, such as opioids, that are recognized to have adverse effects including constipation and significant potential for physical dependence. “

Dr. Noller says a “key strength” of the study is that respondents are “fairly representative” of New Zealand’s demographics.

“One of the common assumptions is that people who identify as cannabis users for therapeutic reasons are simply looking for an excuse to explain their use. This perspective is more in line with a stereotypical view of a type of person who might use cannabis, like generally accepted as young, male and unemployed.

“The varying demographics of our sample, including median age 31 … median income of $ 35,000 to $ 40,000, 52 percent working suggests this isn’t just a sample of recreational cannabis users.”

The study provides evidence that cannabis-based drugs “should at least be considered as an option for treatment,” he says.

“The finding that patients with certain medical conditions appear to experience symptom relief from the use of cannabis suggests that researchers should consider more specific studies of cannabis use for certain medical conditions. In addition, research could be directed to health professionals, affecting their knowledge and views on medicinal cannabis. “

Sativex, a sublingual spray, is the only officially approved cannabis-based drug available in New Zealand. At over $ 1000 for a monthly prescription, this is an expensive option that can also help patients research other cannabis preparations, including illegal cannabis, he says.

“However, additional legislation pending April 1, 2021 will facilitate access to a wider variety of cannabis-based medicines, including those containing a wider variety of cannabinoids. It is hoped that this will expand the possibilities for patients to especially if their health professionals are aware of these expanded options.

“Doctors need to develop a better understanding of medical cannabis options in order to be able to advise patients on the pros and cons of these drugs,” says Dr. Noller.

Auckland Gynecology Group’s co-author Professor Neil Johnson says some endometriosis patients are desperate for symptom relief, but caution is advised.

“While the women who took this survey have apparently seen relief from their symptoms, cannabis isn’t going to be a miracle cure, it won’t work for everyone. And just like with potential drugs, we need to be aware of the side – effects and consequences of use, especially by young women of childbearing age. “

Clinical trials are needed to show which formulations offer the most benefits with the fewest disadvantages, he says.

“I think this study highlights the difficulties people with endometriosis face with their symptoms on a daily basis. We still have a long way to go to adequately care for those struggling with the disease.”

The paper was written by Dr. Noller from Otago, Dr. Jane Girling, Maria Larcombe, Dr. Co-authored by Mike Armor of Western Sydney University, Justin Sinclair and Mahmoud Al-Dabbas, Deborah Bush, CEO of Endometriosis New Zealand, and Doctors Neil Johnson and Erika Hollow, was published in the Journal of Women’s Health.

Australian women are turning to cannabis to treat endometriosis symptoms

More information:
Mike Armor et al. Illegal Cannabis Use as a Management Strategy Among New Zealand Women with Endometriosis: An Online Survey, Journal of Women’s Health (2020). DOI: 10.1089 / jwh.2020.8668 Provided by the University of Otago

Quote: Cannabis Helps Endometriosis Patients, Study Results (2021, February 15), accessed February 15, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-02-cannabis-relief-endometriosis.html

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