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Men experience greater pain relief than women after smoking cannabis, new research has found.
"These findings come at a time when more people, including women, are turning to the use of medical cannabis for pain relief," said one of the researcher Ziva Cooper, Associate Professor at Columbia University Medical Centre in the US.
"Preclinical evidence has suggested that the experience of pain relief from cannabis-related products may vary between sexes, but no studies have been done to see if this is true in humans," Cooper noted.
In this study, the researchers analysed data from two double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies looking at the pain-relieving effects of cannabis in 42 recreational marijuana smokers.
After smoking the same amount of either an active or placebo form of cannabis, the participants immersed one hand in a a cold-water bath until the pain could no longer be tolerated. Following the immersion, the participants answered a short questionnaire.
After smoking cannabis, men reported a significant decrease in pain sensitivity and an increase in pain tolerance.
Women did not experience a significant decrease in pain sensitivity, although they reported a small increase in pain tolerance shortly after smoking.
Despite differences in pain relief, men and women did not report differences in how intoxicated they felt or how much they liked the effect of the active cannabis.
"This study underscores the importance of including both men and women in clinical trials aimed at understanding the potential therapeutic and negative effects of cannabis, particularly as more people use cannabinoid products for recreational or medical purposes," Cooper said.
The results of the study were published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
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