Does CBD Affect Men and Women Differently?

Does CBD Affect Men and Women Differently?

Despite everything we've got in common, there are undeniable differences between men and women. For example, differences in hormone levels and body composition are more than superficial — and can dramatically change the way that one's body interacts with some substances.

So it's only natural to ask, does CBD affect men and women differently?

According to available research, CBD can have slightly different effects on men and women — though the precise nature and extent of these differences are still somewhat unclear.

This article covers everything we currently know about how CBD and other cannabinoid-based treatments affect the sexes differently. Let's dive in.

A Word About Gender Identification

In this article, we talk about "men" and "women" through a relatively narrow lens. When we reference a sex in this article, we're talking about persons who were assigned that sex at birth and who are not undergoing hormone- or other gender-affirming-treatments.

We've got nothing but love for our trans, non-binary, and intersex friends; and while we would love to be able to provide answers for a broader range of folks, the research sadly just isn't there yet. As new data emerges, we'll be sure to provide updates wherever we can.

Sex Differences in Cannabinoid Treatment Generally

Little formal research has been conducted on sex-based differences for CBD treatment specifically. However, there is somewhat more data pertaining to the effect of sex differences on cannabinoid action generally (that is, pertaining to the entire class of cannabinoids rather than the specific cannabinoid CBD).

According to currently available data, the sexes react in some ways similarly and in some ways differently to cannabinoid treatments.

  • Men and women are believed to have near-identical effects on stress, impulsivity, cognition, learning, and memory from similar doses of cannabinoid treatment.
  • Women are believed to have greater reductions of anxiety and depression from cannabinoid treatment, as well as heightened effects on pain relief and libido compared to men.
  • Men are believed to experience greater effects on food appetite and energy levels compared to women.

The precise nature of these differences are still a matter of debate. However, differences in hormone levels, body mass, and proportion of body fat and muscle almost certainly play an active role.

What Does That Mean For CBD Specifically?

Again, the above-cited data is about cannabinoids generally and not about CBD specifically.

Nonetheless, CBD is a cannabinoid and is therefore likely to affect the sexes differently.

CBD does not affect appetite in the same way as other cannabinoids (especially THC), and its effects on sexual behavior are generally thought to be minimal.

Nonetheless, CBD's effects on stress, anxiety, depression, and pain relief are among the main reasons for its use! Among those, stress relief is thought to be roughly equivalent between the sexes, while women are believed to experience greater relief from similar doses in the other categories.

A takeaway here: when taking an identical dose, men are likely to experience less significant therapeutic results than women.

The precise difference is impossible to quantify given available data but is likely to correspond proportionally with the difference in body mass and the ratio of muscle mass to fat.

Emerging Research on Sex-Based Differences in CBD Treatment

Though there is little data on the extent to which CBD affects men and women differently, the question is being actively investigated. Of note, Women's Health Research at Yale (WHRY) is actively investigating CBD use specifically in women, thereby seeking to provide new insights to the historically male-centered field of clinical research.

“The majority of research on the neurological effects of CBD in healthy adults derives from a single small study conducted entirely on men,” said Dr. Lichenstein, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. “If we are to make sure these products are safe and effective — and, if so, determine correct dosing — it is important to complement what has been done in men to understand how CBD affects the brain in women.”

And though the state of WHRY research is unclear from available sources, Lichtenstein's assertions match our discussion above. "“Women seem to have more exposure from the same dose of CBD,” she observed. “Preliminary data suggest that women reach peak concentrations more quickly and reach higher concentrations than men.”

Does CBD Affect Men and Women Differently, In Closing

Does CBD Affect Men and Women Differently? Almost certainly. However, available data has largely focused on sex-based differences in cannabinoid treatment and not on CBD-based treatments specifically.

Nonetheless, this data suggests that men and women will react somewhat differently to equivalent doses of CBD, with the greatest differences in CBD's effects on:

  • Pain relief
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression

The precise origin of such differences is still being determined but is likely a function of sex-based differences in hormone levels and body composition.


The main takeaway: men are likely to require a slightly higher dose of CBD to experience identical effects to women. This comports with common wisdom, as men tend to be somewhat larger in build than women and therefore less susceptible to small doses.

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