Investigators at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York assessed the effects of cannabis versus placebo in subjects exposed to a laboratory-induced pain model. Participants in the trial immersed one of their hands in cold water. Researchers assessed subjects’ pain sensitivity and pain tolerance based on he length of time they were willing to keep their hand submerged.
Researchers reported that the administration of cannabis decreased pain sensitivity and increased pain tolerance in men, while producing a more modest response in female subjects.
“These results indicate that in cannabis smokers, men exhibit greater cannabis-induced analgesia relative to women,” authors concluded. “As such, sex dependent differences in cannabis’s analgesic effects are an important consideration that warrants further investigation when considering the potential therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for pain relief.”
Separate clinical trials evaluating the impact of inhaled cannabis in patients with chronic pain conditions, such as neuropathy, report that the treatment is associated with reduced analgesia and opioid use.
Full text of the study, “Sex-dependent effects of cannabis-induced analgesia,” appears in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.