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Could Women Be More Sensitive to and More Tolerant of THC Than Men?

Washington State University researchers have been studying gender differences in cannabis sensitivities, and their results are pretty interesting. When analyzing male and female rats’ reactions to cannabis use, researchers found that females are at least 30% more sensitive to the pain-relieving qualities of THC than males. Additionally, female subjects developed a higher tolerance to THC at a quicker rate than males.

The outlier for females could be their naturally higher estrogen levels, and researchers think that the higher sensitivity levels among females could result in higher instances of negative side effects such as anxiety, paranoia, and addiction. Researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center have conducted studies suggesting that females are indeed more likely to abuse and become dependent on cannabis than males, and they are also more likely to relapse when attempting to curb or cease use entirely.

Other interesting findings from the study include the following:

  • Females are more susceptible to withdrawal symptoms such as lack of appetite, lack of sleep, and irritability
  • Males are more likely to have an increased appetite when consuming cannabis than females
  • Females experience a “very clear” increase in cannabis sensitivity when they’re ovulating, which is when their estrogen levels have peaked
  • A low dose of THC did not disrupt the female test rats’ reproductive cycle

We all know that cannabis research has been very limited, but it’s somewhat surprising to hear that prior studies that have been conducted were centered on men because they have a “more stable” hormonal profile. WSU’s recent study is unique in that it highlights how cannabis can affect a consumer differently based on his or her gender.

Obviously, this study was conducted on lab rats so additional studies need to be conducted, especially with human subjects. However, the initial research has already opened our eyes on how each gender can be uniquely affected by cannabis consumption. I certainly am looking forward to more cannabis studies that can shed light on precisely how our bodies and minds are affected by this plant’s compounds.

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