Filling a Gap in CBD Research

Within the CBD industry, there is still a lot of research to be done on how each individual person will be affected by the cannabinoid and what products are the best to produce a beneficial effect. But even within the research being done, there is a large gap that needs to be addressed; almost all studies done with human subjects have been male dominated. This means that much of the data that is available does not include a large piece of the population and therefore leaves women without resources to make an informed decision on CBD use.

Dr. Sara Lichenstein with Women’s Health Research at Yale is one of the people seeking to fill this gap, specifically looking into how CBD and other cannabinoids affect neurology in both genders. Dr. Lichenstein along with Dr. Sarah Yip and Dr. Ayana Jordan want to focus on CBD’s potential to positively impact those with anxiety disorders. All three doctors believe that more research in the field of CBD is needed to understand this impact. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health, women are two times more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men and that there may be a link to hormones released during menopause and pregnancy.  Dr. Lichenstein hopes to understand this research even better by conducting an all women’s study on the effects of CBD on anxiety and if there is a positive correlation, what the best method of consumption and dose will be. This research and other studies like it could indicate that there are sex based dosing differences and would help individuals to better dose themselves correctly.

The Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Women’s Health, held a conference in November of 2020 to discuss CBD and Other Cannabinoids: Sex and Gender Differences in Use and Responses. This conference (over Zoom) was fronted by healthcare professionals and patients who used CBD and was finished off by officials from the FDA Office of Women’s Health for a rounded perspective of all the research. Dr. Cinnamon Bidwell from the University of Colorado, Boulder, presented a study done by the Center for Research and Education Addressing Cannabis and Health, on the effects of THC and CBD on individuals experiencing anxiety. This study showed that its women participants not only experienced higher anxiety overall than male participants, but that CBD by itself had a much stronger effect on that anxiety in the women subjects as well. 

Another aspect of research addressed by Dr. Daniel Clauw, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan, was the need for higher doses and likely a need for THC in dosing for women who are experiencing pain. During this conference, Dr. Clauw addressed the need for more research regarding women’s pain management largely because of the differences in women and men’s experiences of pain. Clauw explained that often women are experiencing one and a half to two times the amount of pain men feel for the same condition, this is believed to be because most of women’s pain is felt by the central nervous system rather than the peripheral area affected. More research in this area would allow women to understand how to better dose themselves with CBD and whether or not small amounts of THC could be beneficial for that pain relief. 

Overall, the gap in research for women taking CBD is being noticed and several studies are underway to bring more information to the forefront for female consumers. This new research will allow for both men and women to better understand how CBD affects their bodies and what doses, products, and cannabinoids will bring the most benefit to each individual.

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