The FDA Conference on CBD & Gender

Written by Petar Petrov

A recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conference looked at cannabidiol (CBD) in the context of biological sex differences..

A few key insights stood out at the conference, which took place in November of last year. For starters, the FDA is not just looking at CBD, but other cannabinoids as well.

“The focus of research for many years has been on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and it’s left significant gaps in understanding the properties of the well over 100 cannabinoids and 120 terpenes within the cannabis plant,” said David Shurtleff, PhD, deputy director of the National Institute for Health (NIH)’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Doctors are reluctant to even discuss CBD with patients whose curiosity has been piqued by hype surrounding the cannabinoid. This is likely attributed to lack of training or even permission to do so, which speaks to lingering stigma.

Cinnamon Bidwell, PhD, director of the Center for Research and Education Addressing Cannabis and Health at the University of Colorado, Boulder, pointed out that CBD might be more effective against anxiety than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in females compared to males.

Pain management was another key point of the discussion. Daniel Clauw, MD of the University of Michigan noted that CBD targets the periphery and central nervous system, which is where chronic pain stems from. Women experience 1.5-2 times more chronic pain than men, according to Dr. Clauw, and they may therefore derive more pain relief from CBD.

As for CBD during pregnancy, despite a lack of data on the matter, the general consensus for pregnant women to stay clear of CBD.

The conference also brought to light the inequality between men and women in clinical trials for cannabinoinds, which has been more focused on men, as with many other types of research.

“NIH has ratcheted up the enforcement of studying sex as a biological variable because women were not included in studies,” noted Betty Jo Salmeron, MD, staff clinician for NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse.

A very familiar conclusion was made at the end of the conference–we need more research on CBD in everyone. We can certainly agree with that.

Image Credit: Gerd Altmann

Image Source:

About the author

Petar Petrov

Petar is a freelance writer and copywriter, covering culture, art, society, and anything in-between that makes for a nice story. And as it so happens, cannabis is a great element to add to each of those conversations.