Ovarian Hormone Modulation of Supraspinal THC-Induced Analgesia
Cannabidiol, (CBD), is a non-psychoactive part of cannabis. CBD does not make you high; tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the one that has this job. Sativex, a therapeutic spray that contains small doses of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is now being used for the treatment of symptoms of MS, particularly muscle stiffness and head related pain. Studies in female rats are more sensitive than males to the pain-relieving effects of THC, and females’ increased drug sensitivity depends on the stage of their reproductive cycle. This fact has led to the investigation how female sex hormones affect THC sensitivity.
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How THC works in females
In this study, rats were injected with THC in the brain and then tested for thermal pain, mechanical pain, locomotor activity, and catalepsy. THC reduced pain on all three test days in all hormones. In addition, estradiol, which is a major female sex hormone, significantly increased females’ sensitivity to THC’s effect on the test of mechanical pain.
THC has a better effect on females than males
THC has been shown to reduce pain in female rats more than male rats. Females are more sensitive to THC because of their reproductive cycle. Males and females who are sexually receptive show great sensitivity to THC. Previous studies have shown that ovarian hormones affect the pain numbing effect of THC in females. It was also suggested that THC’s effect is occurring in the brain because of the CBD in the brain receptor fluctuating in size when the subject goes through hormonal changes.
This study highlights the importance of including females in preclinical biomedical
studies: It was found that, estradiol, increased THC-induced pain relief on a test of mechanical pain. This shows THC works differently with sex and this may be because an ovarian hormone that is active in the brains of females. The results of this study could be used to develop more effective pain reducing drugs for women to treat effectively treat mechanical pain such as osteoporosis, broken limbs, and back and neck pain.