Rafael Maldonado Lopez MD PhD Full professor Departament de Ciències Experimentals i de la Salut Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona

Can THC Improve Symptoms of Endometriosis?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rafael Maldonado Lopez MD PhD Full professor Departament de Ciències Experimentals i de la Salut Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona

Dr. Maldonado Lopez

Rafael Maldonado Lopez MD PhD
Full professor
Departament de Ciències Experimentals i de la Salut
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Endometriosis is a common, chronic and painful disease caused when the endometrium grows outside of the uterine cavity. These growths mainly affect organs in the pelvis causing pain and infertility, symptoms that are often accompanied with anxiety, depression, loss of working ability, and a substantial impact on quality of life. Current treatments include hormonal therapy and surgery, but the effectiveness of these treatments is rather limited, often have important unwanted side effects, and patients usually rely on self-management strategies. Therefore, there is an urgent need for researching new possible therapeutic approaches. 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: We characterized a mouse model in which implanted endometrial tissue grows in the pelvic compartment, mimicking human endometriosis. Mice with these endometrial implants had an increased sensitivity to pain in their pelvis, but not in their hind paws, showing that pain was specific for the pelvic area. Implanted endometrial tissue growths also provoked anxiety-like symptoms and memory impairments in mice, resembling the symptoms observed in the clinic.

Using this model, we observed that Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 8 THC), the main psychoactive constituent of the Cannabis sativa plant, alleviated pain sensitivity in the pelvis without having an effect on pain in other areas, showing that the treatment was specific to pain caused by endometriosis. THC showed alleviated pelvic pain regardless of when the treatment was started, suggesting that it relieves pain symptoms also when they are established. Moderate doses of THC also restored cognitive function in animals with endometrial implants; however, it did not relieve the anxiety-like behavior associated with endometriosis. Furthermore, mice that were treated with THC during one month showed smaller endometrial growths, indicating that THC also inhibited the development of endometriosis.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings show that THC limits the development and symptoms of endometriosis in an experimental model, highlighting the potential of cannabinoid drugs for the treatment of endometriosis. Further research is currently being conducted to ensure the safety and efficacy of cannabinoid treatments in women with endometriosis. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: On the one hand, our work reveals the need to design experimental approaches that allow investigation not only of the pain component of endometriosis, but also the emotional and cognitive alterations associated with chronic pain to optimize future therapeutic approaches for endometriosis. On the other hand, the key findings of the disease-modifying effects of THC underlines the interest to further investigate the potential of cannabinoids to treat endometriosis.


Disease-modifying effects of natural Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in endometriosis-associated pain




Last Modified: Jan 17, 2020 @ 3:54 pm




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