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  • abc.net.au

Three out of five prescriptions for medicinal cannabis are to treat chronic pain

Endometriosis is a painful condition that affects up to one in nine women. Image: Source: Unsplash, Yuris Alhumaydy

Growing up, Georgia's family thought she was a bit of a hypochondriac because she'd always complain about weird aches and pains. Even doctors didn't really take her symptoms seriously. "Every day waking up, I'm not sure what I'm going to be in for. It's a bit of a Russian roulette."Finally, after years of pain and other chronic symptoms, Georgia was diagnosed with endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other parts of the body. It can be painful, chronic, and has no cure.

Georgia, who now runs the instagram page The Endo Journal, didn't have a whole lot of options for how to manage her symptoms.

Then, last year, Georgia's gynecologist suggested Georgia try medicinal cannabis.

Georgia thought getting approved for medicinal cannabis would be really hard, that only people with terminal illnesses or severe conditions could access it. She was pleasantly surprised.

"I got approved straight away. Within 24 hours I'd been approved."

"My cannabis doctor just sends my prescriptions to my local pharmacy, and then I call up and pay for it and then they let me know when it's arrived. So it's really actually a lot easier than I thought," Georgia said.

Medicinal cannabis to treat chronic pain

Medicinal cannabis was approved for use in Australia in 2016, and according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, who run the program, the majority of people who seek medicinal cannabis do so to treat conditions like endometriosis.

"Over 60 per cent of the total applications received were for chronic pain, and this would include those accessing medicinal cannabis specifically for endometriosis or associated reproductive issues," a statement by the TGA to Hack said.

Georgia, 26, was diagnosed with endometriosis nearly a decade ago.Image: Source: Supplied

There have been over 80,000 successful applications for use of medicinal cannabis since the scheme started, and nearly 56,000 of those have been in the last 12 months.

The TGA warned that it's really important that people speak to their doctors before accessing the products, because some people have comorbidities that make them unsuitable for it.

According to the TGA, there are also now more than 3,000 individual prescribers of medicinal cannabis in Australia. Georgia said authorised prescribers can really help.

"You've got the guidance of how much to take, what different strains to take. If you do experience any side effects they can give you advice on what you should change or different products you could try out," she said.

"It's really good having that professional guidance." Originally published here: https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/medicinal-cannabis-chronic-pain-endometriosis-weed/12971754

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