Cannabis Relieves Pain Better For Men Than Women
It may come as no surprise to some that cannabis has been shown to be an effective pain reliever. However, a new study released by Columbia University makes a fascinating observation: it does so better for men than women.
The researchers aimed to see whether or not the effects of cannabis – specifically, its ability to reduce pain – were different among men than among women. To investigate, they took 21 men and 21 women and conducted a Cold-Pressor Test on each of them. The subject places their hand in cold water and tells the researcher when they first feel pain, and then take their hand out once that pain becomes unbearable.
The test was done on each subject twice: once under the influence of ‘inactive’ cannabis, or a placebo marijuana cigarette, and another time under the effect of ‘active’ cannabis, a cannabis cigarette containing ~4% THC.
What they found was that pain sensitivity for men was significantly reduced when under the effect of existing cannabis compared to the placebo. For women, however, this gap did not exist: pain sensitivity under active cannabis versus placebo was the same. While pain tolerance for both men and females was reported under the effects of existing cannabis, this effect was stronger for men than for women. Both groups, however, felt similar enjoyment and intoxication from the plant.
Implications From the Author
Dr. Ziva Cooper, the co-author of the study, commented on the consequences of this discovery for the future of cannabis and its role in medicine:
These findings come at a time when more people, including women, are turning to the use of medical cannabis for pain relief… This study underscores the importance of including both men and women in clinical trials aimed at understanding the potential therapeutic and negative effects of cannabis, particularly as more people use cannabinoid products for recreational or medical purposes.
Many experts such as Dr. Cooper agree that more research should be conducted on various medicinal aspects of the cannabis plant. In doing this research, she has highlighted an important factor to be considered by other experts in the future: include both men and women in further studies.
She and her counterparts who conducted this study also note that while the differences between men and females on pain sensitivity were observed, the reason for these differences is not known. Therefore, they stress that future studies aimed at explaining why the cannabinoids act differently in women than in men need to be done.