Could medicinal cannabis be the answer to the pain of endometriosis?
Deakin researchers are exploring the potential use of medicinal cannabis for pain management in people with endometriosis.
The 'EndoCannED' trial will look at whether prescribing medicinal cannabis instead of opioids can reduce emergency department presentations among people living with the condition.
Professor Antonina Mikocka-Walus from Deakin's Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED) said insufficient pain control can lead to people presenting to emergency departments with breakthrough pain, putting pressure on an already busy health system.
"Opioids are often ineffective in managing pain from endometriosis and are not suitable for the long-term treatment required by those with the condition," Professor Mikocka-Walus.
"Women with endometriosis have a four times greater risk of chronic opioid use compared to women without.
"Despite substantial use of these medications most people with endometriosis in Australia report poor pain and symptom control."
Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition which affects one in nine women and those assigned female at birth and currently has no cure.
The three-month project will involve 63 patients, living in Victoria, who will be monitored by researchers to learn whether the use of medicinal cannabis reduces the need for them to present to emergency departments.
In contrast to a recently announced Sydney based trial looking at the potential for medicinal cannabis to relieve endometriosis pain, this study is recruiting participants only in Victoria and is focussed on reducing hospital presentations for endometriosis pain.
A recent poll undertaken in January 2022 on social media by Instagram account 'theendojournal' reported that 78 per cent of more than 650 responses had presented to an emergency department at least once in the previous two years due to their endometriosis symptoms, with almost one in five (18 per cent) presenting more than five times in the past two years.
As well as analysing any changes to emergency department presentation rates, the Victorian study will also examine the participants' pelvic pain severity, general symptom severity, analgesic usage, fatigue, and health-related quality of life changes.
Professor Mikocka-Walus said previous research found that the potential for cognitive impairment was a concern to people who wish to use medicinal cannabis to manage menstrual symptoms.
"We'll be testing an oral cannabidiol (CBD) isolate as a daily treatment as it allows people to undertake the normal activities of daily life while providing a potential pain reduction."
The project is being supported by the Victorian Government and NICM Health Research Institute and results are expected to be delivered by April 2024.
Research partners include Endo Help Foundation Ltd, National Endometriosis Science and Clinical Trials (NESCT) Network, OnTracka Ltd and Australian Natural Therapeutics Group Ltd.
For further information on the project please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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