Do Women and Men Experience Cannabis Differently?

One of the reasons we encourage cannabis patients to experiment with various strains for their ailment is because we have seen different strains work for different people. Perhaps you have a potent strain you like to medicate with that your friend feels no effect from at all. What makes one person paranoid could relax another simply because each person has different brain chemistry and body fat distribution. Taking this further, we might ask the question: “In general, is the experience of medicating with cannabis different for men than for women?” After all, men and women have different hormone profiles and different fat distribution patterns as well, right? This is exactly the question we hope to tackle today, although we’d like to remind readers that when we say “male” and “female, we are talking about at-birth medical identification of sex as opposed to “gender”, which obviously cannot be reduced down to stereotypes. After digging through the relevant research we’ve seen a slight disagreement in animal vs. human studies. Animal studies show less of a sexual differentiation or one in which females have higher THC concentrations in the brain. Human studies mostly appear to be the opposite, with males and females exhibiting different sensitivities in various areas. A good deal of this could be social, but a large part has to do with gonadal hormones. As we discussed in the last article, estrogen is capable of regulating cannabinoid receptor density and signal transduction. How much estrogen you have in your body at…

Sex, Hormones, and Cannabinoids

When I was growing up, one of the ‘reefer madness’ propaganda claims that used to scare teens away from cannabis was that it could make male users develop extra fatty breast tissue (yes, you read that correctly: man boobs) and lose sexual interest. Over the years, I can’t say that I’ve noticed a “body-type” that belongs to cannabis users and I’ve met plenty of daily smokers with strong sexual appetites. This has gone a long way to decreasing my fears about chemically castrating myself, but I continue to wonder: what was the basis for that claim? Perhaps it was the result of a drastic oversimplification of a study that anti-cannabis activists had latched onto and distorted… if so, what was that original study? Are cannabinoids involved with sexual expression or motivation? The answer to that question appears to be yes, with several large hints given to the interaction between cannabinoids and sex hormones. First, receptors and metabolic enzymes of the endocannabinoid system are located all throughout the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis that is responsible for sexual behavior and expression. Secondly, researchers have established that changes in sex hormones can alter endocannabinoid production, which means that the relationship between cannabinoids and sex hormones is occurring in at least in one direction. Lastly, the endocannabinoid system is known to be involved in behaviors that are also regulated in part by gonadal hormones (sex organ hormones). The real question, however, is not whether effects are produced but what effects are produced. This question is not…

Using Cannabis to Reduce Opioid Use for Chronic Pain

The last time we spoke of opioids and cannabis, it was in reference to whether cannabis could interfere with opioid withdrawal recovery (spoiler alert: not observed). However, equally worth considering is the opposite end of the spectrum of opioid users: legitimate use of prescribed opioids to treat chronic pain. Noting the tendency for opioids to be abused and to elicit addiction in patients, doctors must be very careful about prescribing opioids and must gauge a variety of factors such as age and tolerance to pain. However in almost all cases, patients receiving opioids have tried other less potent painkillers, from over the counter to prescribed medications, and have not had success with these medicines. Unfortunately, while opioids represent one of the strongest painkillers known at this time, they have not been shown to be effective in managing chronic pain. Furthermore, our current medical understanding of pain is that it cannot simply be reduced to one factor or one area of the brain. As a result it is unlikely that one substance will contain the entire mechanism of action for eliminating pain. This dovetails nicely into cannabis use because as we’ve discussed on the blog previously, cannabis is capable of activating pain attenuation circuits through the endocannabinoid system. Specifically, cannabis can activate some of the same opioid pathways without actually supplying extraneous opioids to the body. Those that read the blog know that a pet peeve of Cornerstone is seeing small studies. We like to see large studies upwards of a…

Treating Sleep Apnea with THC

Sleep Apnea is a sleep breathing disorder that is identified by pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses range from seconds to minutes long and are usually accompanied by shallow, inefficient breathing, resulting in a night’s worth of poor respiration. As the body fights to get air, less and less oxygen reaches the blood stream. When that level becomes too low, the brain’s protective mechanism finally jolts the body awake long enough to restore breathing. A person with Sleep Apnea is actually waking up over and over throughout the night, interrupting their own rest. Think that’s scary? Here’s the worst part: you might already have Sleep Apnea. Many individuals go for years without recognizing this condition, in part because the interruptions in sleep are too brief to remember. The resulting lack of quality sleep leads to general sleepiness and irritability that many become accustomed to after forgetting what a good night’s rest can feel like. Unfortunately, Sleep Apnea is common in adults. Close to 15% of the general population has Sleep Apnea or apnea-like breathing patterns. Even professional athletes, such as Boston Red Sox player, Mike Napoli, have had problems so serious that corrective surgery is required. In some cases, Sleep Apnea is caused by a lack of strength in breathing. Oftentimes, however, it is caused by an obstructed airway, where any part of the upper respiratory system has become kinked and closed-off. In that case the most common treatment has been the use of positive pressure devices that artificially…