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Cannabidiol for the Management of Endometriosis and Chronic Pelvic Pain

Published:November 24, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmig.2021.11.017

      Abstract

      Objective

      To review the available literature on the effect of cannabis-based products on the female reproductive system and establish if there is any evidence that they benefit or harm patients with endometriosis and therefore if there is sufficient evidence to recommend them.

      Data Sources

      An electronic-based search was performed in PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Database. Reference lists of articles retrieved were reviewed and a grey literature search was also performed.

      Methods of Study Selection

      The original database search yielded 264 articles from PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Database, of which forty-one were included. One hundred and sixty-one studies relating to gynaecological malignancy, conditions unrelated to endometriosis or therapies unrelated to cannabis-based products were excluded. Twelve articles were included from a grey literature search and review of references.

      Results

      The majority of available evidence is from laboratory studies aiming to simulate the effects of cannabis-based products on preclinical endometriosis models. Some show evidence of benefit with cannabis-based products. However, results are conflicting and the impact in humans cannot necessarily be extrapolated from this data. Few studies exist looking at the effect of cannabis or its derived products in women with endometriosis – the majority are in the form of surveys and are affected by bias. National guidance was also reviewed: at present this dictates that cannabis-based products can only be prescribed for conditions where there is clear published evidence of benefit and only when all other treatment options have been exhausted.

      Conclusion

      Current treatment options for endometriosis often affect fertility and/or have undesirable side effects that impede long-term management. Cannabis-based products have been suggested as a novel therapeutic option that may circumvent these issues. However, there is a paucity of well-designed, robust studies and randomised controlled trials looking at their use in the treatment of endometriosis. In addition, cannabis use has a potential for harm in the long term; with a possible association with ‘cannabis use disorder’, psychosis and mood disturbances. At present, national guidance cannot recommend cannabis-based products to patients in the UK due to lack of clear evidence of benefit. More comprehensive research into the impact of endocannabinoids in the context of endometriosis is required before their use can be recommended or prescribed.

      Key Words

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