Justin Sinclair

The safety, tolerability and effectiveness of medicinal cannabis for the symptomatic management of endometriosis: A mixed methods study


Endometriosis is a chronic, inflammatory condition characterised by the presence of tissue similar to the lining of the womb being found outside the uterus. This condition impacts around 1 in 10 women, with an estimated prevalence of 750,000 women in Australia and approximately 176 million women worldwide.  Aside from pelvic pain, women suffer a constellation of other symptoms including painful periods, poor mental health, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems and a poor quality of life. Currently, there is no known cure and medical options are often limited due to significant side effects, which may be why women with endometriosis are commonly utilising other self-management strategies.

Cannabis has been used as a medicine by humans for thousands of years, however, research into its therapeutic applications were hampered by prohibition in the 1930’s. Our team's previous research in women with endometriosis suggests that cannabis may prove a useful management option for women with endometriosis due to its potential anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea and analgesic effects, with published survey data from women with endometriosis in Australia and New Zealand showing that illicit cannabis can not only relieve pain and other symptoms, but can also reduce women’s use of pharmaceutical medications. Justin's proposed research has a mixed methods design which is comprised of two major phases. The first phase is broken up into qualitative focus groups and a large quantitative international survey which will inform the design of the second phase which will be a randomised clinical trial investigating a standardised and quality assured medicinal cannabis product for endometriosis pain and associated symptoms.


Justin has diplomas in herbal medicine and nutrition, a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) from the University of New England and a Master of Herbal Medicine from the faculty of Pharmacy at Sydney University. He has been a practising naturopath since 2002 and has been lecturing across pharmacognosy, integrative pharmacology, botany and health science subjects at various Australian tertiary academic institutions since 2004. He has served on the scientific advisory board for United in Compassion (Australia’s leading medicinal cannabis patient advocacy group) since 2015 and was appointed as a board member to the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Association in August 2020. He has published 12 peer-reviewed journal articles and 4 book chapters covering topics such as cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System, pain management, drug herb interactions, herbal medicine and his current research focus, endometriosis.

Justin is a recipient of the NICM HRI Scholarship Program.


Supervisors:

Dr Mike Armour, Professor Jerome Sarris, Professor Jason Abbott, Professor David Pate