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  • Writer's pictureElena Schmidt

Women Do Cannabis Differently

Updated: Jun 5, 2019

Discover women’s unique conditions and responses to medical cannabis.

By sheer numbers, men dominate the cannabis community at 75% of total users, but that ratio is starting to change. Today as marijuana legalization spreads across the country, the gap between the sexes is starting to narrow. Women now seek legal and medical cannabis in a big way. They are looking for the right strains to synergize with their unique physiologies in order to produce the greatest holistic benefit. Women now represent the fastest growing demographic to join the cannabis community and their needs are worthy of exploration.

The latest research indicates that men and women’s bodies may respond very differently to marijuana’s CBD & THC compounds due in part to hormones and varying rates of metabolic breakdown. Research also reveals that women may be more sensitive to the plant’s effects and may develop a physical tolerance more quickly than men. Based on this variability it is important for experts to investigate how female bodies interact with cannabinoids. Greater understanding will empower women to utilize cannabis for more effective holistic purposes.

Today we know unequivocally that women are more likely to use medical cannabis as a result of conditions such as anxiety, depression and specific types of physical pain related to female hormones. We also know that many women report better sex, more frequent sex, and more confident sex from cannabis use. We do not have enough clinical trials to legitimize all of the stated benefits, but we do have promising testimonials and legitimate scientific theories.

Here we preview a few key women’s health issues for which they seek cannabis to treat. Join us May 16th - 18th at Jewish Women's Renewal Shabbat | Cannabis Wellness Retreat where doctors and healers dive deeper.

Depression & Anxiety

Statistics show that women utilize cannabis to help treat depression and anxiety at a higher rate than men. This fact is not entirely surprising when considering that women are nearly twice as likely to suffer from these mental health issues. Research on cannabis efficacy to treat depression and anxiety is in its infancy but Washington State University’s (WSU) recent study offered a few insights to propel the conversation further.

In April 2018, WSU conducted a first-of-its-kind study that analyzed how different strains and quantities of cannabis affected self-reported levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, the study suggests that smoking cannabis may not be effective as a long term treatment model but can significantly reduce short term levels of the mental health conditions listed above. The WSU team found that one puff of cannabis high in CBD and low in THC was optimal for depression, two puffs helped reduce anxiety, and 10 or more puffs produced the largest reduction in immediate stress relief.

Sex Drive

As disproportionate targets of stress, anxiety and depression women can also experience a loss or diminished sexual appetite. While traditional medicine has failed to offer a sufficient fix, marijuana may provide an alternative solution. Stats on cannabis use shows that women’s unique response to endocannabinoids can produce a boost in sex drive.

Marijuana’s mechanism of action is still unknown, but theories about the Endocannabinoid System’s relation to reported levels of “better sex” are rampant. A recent CNN article cited sex therapist, Israel Helfand who advised cannabis may improve sex because women feel less pressure to perform and more secure in their bodies. On a physiological level, THC also appears to target part of the brain associated with sexual arousal for women. Unfortunately men’s receptors do not appear to respond in the same capacity.

While the findings are promising, it is important to note that there is no standard cannabis protocol for women’s sexual health. At the Women’s Cannabis Wellness Series, we discuss how delivery, dose and cannabinoid ratio (strain) matter on a human to human level.

Pain Relief for PMS, Migraines & Menopause

There is a breadth of evidence on the pain-relieving properties of cannabis, so ingesting the plant for PMS, migraines and menopausal pain seems to make sense. While further clinical research is required to legitimize cannabis for these particular conditions, we know that women are experiencing monumental levels of self-reported pain relief.

How does this work? Scientific understanding notes that the Endocannabinoid System will ramp up cannabinoid (CB) receptors in any area that is experiencing pain. Those receptors will then wait for their plant or endogenous counterparts (think CBD, THC, Anandamide and 2-AG) to help reduce inflammation and therefore the body’s pain response.

Due to the extensive research related to cannabis pain management, certain lawmakers today are pushing for their states to add menstrual pain to the list of approved medical conditions. Continued research is underway and we will highlight some of the latest finds at Jewish Women's Renew Shabbat | Cannabis Wellness Retreat.


Post authored by Elena Schmidt, a creative writer and content marketer.

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