Background: The use of cannabis for symptoms of endometriosis was investigated utilising retrospective archival data from Strainprint Technologies Ltd., a Canadian data technology company with a mobile phone application that tracks a range of data including dose, mode of administration, chemovar and their effects on various self-reported outcomes, including pelvic pain.
Methods: A retrospective, electronic record-based cohort study of StrainprintTM users with self-reported endometriosis was conducted. Self-rated cannabis efficacy, defined as a function of initial and final symptom ratings, was investigated across the included symptom clusters of cramps, pelvic pain, gastrointestinal pain, nausea, depression, and low libido. Cannabis dosage form, dose and cannabinoid ratio information was also recorded.
Results: A total number of 252 participants identifying as suffering endometriosis recorded 16193 sessions using cannabis between April 2017 and February 2020. The most common method of ingestion was inhalation (n = 10914, 67.4%), with pain as the most common reported symptom being treated by cannabis (n = 9281, 57.3%). Gastrointestinal symptoms, though a less common reason for cannabis usage (15.2%), had the greatest self-reported improvement after use. Inhaled forms had higher efficacy for pain, while oral forms were superior for mood and gastrointestinal symptoms. Dosage varied across ingestion methods, with a median dose of 9 inhalations (IQR 5 to 11) for inhaled dosage forms and 1 mg/mL (IQR 0.5 to 2) for other ingested dosage forms. The ratio of THC to CBD had a statistically significant, yet clinically small, differential effect on efficacy, depending on method of ingestion.
Conclusions: Cannabis appears to be effective for pelvic pain, gastrointestinal issues and mood, with effectiveness differing based on method of ingestion. The greater propensity for use of an inhaled dosage delivery may be due to the rapid onset of pain-relieving effects versus the slower onset of oral products. Oral forms appeared to be superior compared to inhaled forms in the less commonly reported mood or gastrointestinal categories. Clinical trials investigating the tolerability and effectiveness of cannabis for endometriosis pain and associated symptoms are urgently required.
Conflict of interest statement
I have read the journal’s policy and the authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: As a medical research institute, NICM Health Research Institute receives research grants and donations from foundations, universities, government agencies, individuals and industry. Sponsors and donors also provide untied funding for work to advance the vision and mission of the Institute. The authors declare no competing financial interests. JS is the recipient of a Western Sydney University Postgraduate Research Scholarship. J.Sarris has received either presentation honoraria, travel support, clinical trial grants, book royalties, or independent consultancy payments from: Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (being a scientific advisor to Australian Natural Therapeutics Group: a cannabis grower and manufacturer), Integria Healthcare & MediHerb, Pfizer, Scius Health, Key Pharmaceuticals, Taki Mai, Fiji Kava, FIT-BioCeuticals, Blackmores, Soho-Flordis, Healthworld, HealthEd, HealthMasters, Kantar Consulting, Angelini Pharmaceuticals, Grunbiotics, Polistudium, Research Reviews, Elsevier, Chaminade University, International Society for Affective Disorders, Complementary Medicines Australia, SPRIM, Terry White Chemists, ANS, Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research, Sanofi-Aventis, Omega-3 Centre, the National Health and Medical Research Council, CR Roper Fellowship. This does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.