Researchers in Israel have begun pre-clinical trials to determine how cannabis can be used to treat endometriosis.
The Endometriosis research is being conducted by Gynica, a company licensed by the Health Ministry to develop cannabis-based medical products for women. Gynica does research and development with a heavy focus on cannabinoids in gynecology. Lumir Lab, a preeminent cannabis research facility in Hadassah Ein Karem, Jerusalem, is also participating in the study.
Endometriosis is a complex medical problem that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age, which is somewhere in the ballpark of 176 million worldwide. It’s a condition categorized by the uterine lining growing outside the uterus – in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other parts of the pelvis and abdominal cavity. Symptoms include pain before and during menstruation, bleeding and pain during intercourse, indigestion, and frequent or painful urination.
According to Dr. Sari Sagiv, vice president of research and development at Gynica, anecdotal evidence indicates that women who smoke cannabis don’t experience as much endometriosis-related pain as women who don’t partake. This prompted researchers to explore the topic in more detail, looking at what compounds (or combination of compounds) could effectively offer relief.
“Endometriosis is a complicated disease,” mentions Sagiv. “I believe cannabis has enough compounds that can affect a number of factors of the disease, including reducing pain, inflammation and the risk of recurrence.”
The researchers have already tested a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes on in vitro endometriosis cells to see what the effects are. They have narrowed it to down to a few “lead candidates” that they will be using in the official clinical trials.
“We are trying single or a combination of compounds on these cells to find out if there is an impact and what it is,” Sagiv explained. “We have already seen that there are different parts of the compounds that have a lot of impact. We have an indication of what can be a lead candidate to deal with a number of factors that can cure endometriosis.”
The trials are expected to start in the third quarter of this year.