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Integro Clinics explains how new research indicates that Cannabis Medicines can be helpful in the treatment of Endometriosis and other Female Health Conditions

What is Endometriosis ?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It can affect women of any age and is a long-term condition that can have a significant impact on your life. Some women are badly affected, by the symptoms while others might not have any noticeable symptoms. The main symptoms of endometriosis are

  • pain in your lower stomach or back or pelvic pain usually worse during your period
  • period pain that stops you from doing your normal activities
  • pain during or after sex
  • pain when peeing or pooing during your period
  • feeling sick, constipation, diarrhea, or blood in your pee during your period
  • Infertility & difficulty getting pregnant

You may also have heavy periods and in some women, it can have a terrible impact upon their lives and lead to feelings of depression. It can be difficult to diagnose endometriosis because the symptoms can vary considerably, and many other conditions can cause similar symptoms. A GP should refer a patient to gynaecologist for some further tests, such as an ultrasound scan or laparoscopy to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatments for Endometriosis

There’s currently no cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments that can help ease the symptoms. Treatments include:

  • hormone medicines and contraceptives – including the combined pill, the contraceptive patch, an intrauterine system (IUS), and medicines called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues
  • surgery to cut away patches of endometriosis tissue
  • an operation to remove part or all of the organs affected by endometriosis – such as a hysterectomy
  • Opioid analgesics are often prescribed for pain, however, there is a risk of dependency and overdose.

Using Cannabis Medicines to Treat Endometriosis Symptoms

If traditional clinical approaches have failed there is a growing body of research that shows that Cannabis Based Medicines (CBM’s) can be very helpful in treating endometriosis symptoms.

Female Pain Management Consultant, Dr Sally Ghazaleh of Integro Medical Clinics says “ The endocannabinoid system has a major role in many bodily functions, including sleep, stress, emotions, pain and immune responses.  There are a multitude of cannabis and endocannabinoid receptors  in the uterus and female reproductive system. That is why cannabis affects men and women differently. Women appear to be much more sensitive than men to many aspects of phytocannabiniod action.  In view of the significance of the endocannabinoid system in female reproductive systems CBM’s can be particularly helpful in the management of certain female health conditions such as endometriosis.”

A new study published in the Journal of Obstetrics Gynaecology, Canada has found one in eight Australian women with endometriosis use cannabis to alleviate pain and other symptoms, rating plant-based medicine as the most effective way to self-manage the disorder.

Researchers from NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University and UNSW Sydney surveyed 484 Australian women with endometriosis between the ages of 18 and 45 to determine the types of strategies they used to self-manage symptoms.

They found more than three quarters of Australian women with endometriosis are turning to self-management strategies including breathing techniques, yoga, dietary changes, heat and cannabis. Cannabis was ranked as the most effective treatment by women.

The women said that along with reducing pain, they felt that cannabis significantly reduced symptoms of nausea and vomiting, gastrointestinal symptoms, problems with their sleep, feelings of depression and anxiety.

Women using cannabis also reported a decrease in the medication that they normally took for their endometriosis symptoms, with just over half saying they decreased their medication by 50 per cent or more. Reported side effects were mild and relatively rare.

Lead author on the study, NICM Health Research Institute Research Fellow and Coordinator of the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Research and Education Collaboration, Justin Sinclair said that due to the limitations of existing medical treatments for endometriosis, women are turning to self-care or lifestyle interventions for symptom relief. Although more research is needed into the effectiveness of these self-management strategies.

“Cannabis has a long history of use in ancient and scientific literature for various conditions such as period pain, however until now nothing has been investigated for cannabis being used for endometriosis.

Past research has demonstrated that certain compounds within cannabis known as cannabinoids exert analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity. Our research sought to determine the prevalence, tolerability, and self-reported effectiveness of cannabis in women with endometriosis.” Said Mr Sinclair

Although the study showed promising results for the use of cannabis for endometriosis symptoms, Mr Sinclair cautioned that cannabis use was not without risk, however the reported rates of adverse effects were low in their study.

Integro Medical Clinics Ltd always recommend remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition, while using cannabis-based medicines, and the Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them”

When conventional treatments reach their limit, our work begins.

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