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Estrogen increases cannabis sensitivity
Date:9/2/2014

e than 60 compounds known as cannabinoids. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive ingredient behind the characteristic mental high. Cannabidiol and cannabinol occur in smaller amounts but may be useful for medical purposes.

All three compounds are present in the most common species of marijuana, Cannabis sativa and C. indica, but in varying proportions.

Craft said most medical marijuana patients prefer a balance between the cannabinoids. But when it comes to recreational pot, selective breeding has resulted in THC concentrations double or triple those seen in the 1960s and 70s.

"Marijuana is very different than it was 40 years ago," she said. "It's much higher in THC and lower in cannabidiol, so a little bit goes a very long way.

"We're more likely to see negative side effects today like anxiety, confusion, panic attacks, hallucinations or extreme paranoia," she said. "And women are at higher risk."

One of the few female studies

Most clinical drug trials have been conducted on men due to their more stable hormonal profile. Despite the recommendation of the National Institutes of Health in 1993 to include more women in studies or give good reasons not to, many researchers still avoid dealing with the hormone swings inherent in a woman's biology.

But Craft has been studying drug sensitivities in females for years.

Working with rats in her laboratory, Craft said she and her team "routinely manipulate hormones and follow females across their cycles to see if their drug sensitivities change along with their hormones. And they dovery frequently." Estrogen is the culprit.

"What we're finding with THC is that you get a very clear spike in drug sensitivity right when the females are ovulating - right when their estrogen levels have peaked and are coming down," she said.

Surprise finding

In the current study, Craft and her team examin
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Contact: Rebecca Craft
craft@wsu.edu
509-335-5040
Washington State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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