CBD’s Differing Effects on Women and Men Under FDA Scrutiny

Photographer: Taylor Weidman/Bloomberg

CBD affects men and women differently, and that could have an impact on how the U.S. regulates the buzzy new substance.

Women may be more likely to use it to alleviate pain, sleep difficulties, anxiety and other health issues, according to Amy Abernethy, a top official with the Food and Drug Administration. CBD, the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, was the focus of a scientific conference Thursday.

“We recognize there are significant knowledge gaps” around CBD, said Abernethy, the agency’s principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs. Areas that the FDA may explore include dosage levels, pregnancy and lactation, and whether pregnant women are more likely to develop a dependence on CBD, she and other speakers said.

The FDA Office of Women’s Health is coordinating with other parts of the agency to study CBD as its use spreads across products such as pet care, food, cosmetics and tinctures.

One of the sex-based findings discussed is that women can experience twice as much pain as men, and that they have more pain related to the central nervous system — which could respond to CBD. In one study, women also reported better results than men when using CBD to treat anxiety.

Douglas Throckmorton, deputy director for regulatory programs at the FDA, said there’s also concern about CBD’s effects on the male reproductive system. The agency is also looking at how CBD interacts with other drugs in both sexes and how it affects the central nervous system.

“We don’t know much about the cumulative and long term effects of human exposure,” he said.

    Latest posts