Subcutaneous injections of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, reduce chronic pelvic pain and shrink uterine growths in mice modeling endometriosis, a painful disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of the uterine cavity, according to a study published in eLife earlier this month (January 14).

The researchers also found that treatment with THC reduced cognitive impairment in the mice, but did not have an effect on the animals’ anxiety-like behavior. Despite the potential side effects, the authors conclude that “the present data obtained in a preclinical model of endometriosis underline the interest in conducting clinical research to assess the effects of moderate doses of THC on endometriosis patients.”

Ectopic endometrial growths in mice. The top image is from a control mouse treated with a placebo; the bottom image, showing growths of reduced size, is from a THC-treated mouse. Scale bar = 1 mm.

A. Escudero-Lara et al., "Disease-modifying effects of natural Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in endometriosis-associated pain," eLife, doi:10.754/eLife.50356, 2020.

Amy Schleunes is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at

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