Study: Endometriosis Patients Report Subjective Benefits from Cannabis

Wellington, New Zealand: Cannabis use mitigates symptoms of endometriosis, according to survey data published in the Journal of Women’s Health. Endometriosis is estimated to impact more than ten percent of women of reproductive age and is typically associated with pelvic pain and cramping.

An international team of researchers surveyed a subset of self-identified medical cannabis consumers in New Zealand with either endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Herbal cannabis use was not legally permitted for medicinal purposes in New Zealand at the time the survey was conducted.

Respondents were most likely to report using cannabis for pain relief, improving sleep, and mitigating nausea. Respondents reported a median score of 90 on a zero to 100-point scale in response to the question, “How does cannabis affect your conditions or symptoms overall?” (where zero was “no relief” and 100 was “excellent relief.”)

Nearly six-in-ten respondents acknowledged being able to cease their use of at least one prescription medication following the initiation of cannabis. Study participants were most likely to report stopping their use of opioids – a finding that is consistent with dozens of other studies. Separate survey data of US women previously reported that more than 20 percent of subjects with pelvic pain consume cannabis products, with 96 percent of consumers reporting symptom improvement.

Authors of the latest study concluded: “Cannabis, most commonly inhaled via a pipe, joint, or bong, was considered by our respondents with endometriosis and/or PCOS to be very effective for the management of their symptoms especially in regard to pain, sleep, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

“Respondents reported clear evidence of a substitution effect, where the use of cannabis reduced or replaced other pharmaceutical medications, especially with respect to opioid-based analgesics, and also to other medications commonly used in the management of endometriosis-related symptoms, such as antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and NSAIDs. … Self-reported community data, such as these, add to the growing body of evidence that medicinal cannabis may be a potentially effective part of a multidisciplinary toolkit to manage the symptoms of endometriosis and support reduction of other classes of medication, including opioids.”

Full text of the study, “Illicit cannabis use as a management strategy in New Zealand women with endometriosis: An online survey,” appears in the Journal of Women’s Health.