Men can never comprehend what women go through with the onset of menopause. It may seem like ONLY the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles – like she got rid of an inconvenience! On the contrary, this inconvenience is rather a natural thing that helps maintain her physical and mental health.
With menopause comes a hurricane of health problems and abnormalities that include – but aren’t restricted to…
- Vaginal Dryness & Discomfort
- Hot Flashes
- Progressive Insomnia
- Unusual pain in different parts of the body
- Reduced libido
- Weight gain
- Bone Density Loss & Osteoporosis
- Irrational Mood Swings
- Frequent Irritability
- And the list goes on…
Menopause brings with it a series of intense changes in a woman’s body, mind, and life. These issues generally come almost all at the same time, making a woman mentally miserable and physically inadept at handling life the way she used to.
While an Ob-Gyn may point a patient in the direction of different specialists or prescribe a host of medications to ease the pain, discomfort, provide bone support, compensate for the hormonal imbalance that causes the mental issues, mental health medications, etc., some women choose to get as far from pharmaceutical medications, including hormone therapy. The reason for that is quite simple.
Like menopausal symptoms weren’t enough; I now have to deal even more irritating and agonizing side effects from these medications! ’You’d hear most women exclaim:
Such women often look for natural, botanical options to deal with their symptoms. Luckily, there quite a few natural options for pharmaceutical medications and treatments for menopause available to women.
One such highly sought-after option these days is Cannabidiol – popularly known as CBD. Quite a few CBD-infused products are being manufactured specifically to cater to menopausal women!
Can CBD Help With Menopausal Symptoms?
During menopause, estrogen levels significantly drop, triggering a range of symptoms, including altering levels of other hormones like cortisol and prolactin.
There is a growing body of research that seems to suggest that CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabis extract, can safely, yet effectively, enable the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to counter some of the typical symptoms of menopause.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD is a cannabinoid – much like our internal (endo)cannabinoids, known to facilitate the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to fluidly carry out, maintain, and regulate various physiological functions with the help certain receptors that are integral to ECS’ functioning.
The ECS is like the conductor of an orchestra, in which each of our body parts plays an instrument. The ECS, works in tandem with the nervous system, to ensure all nerves, organs, and blood vessels work harmoniously. This keeps the physiological and chemical balances within the body intact, allowing us to survive and stay healthy. In short, the ECS maintains the body’s homeostasis.
With menopause, a woman’s body experiences some major hormonal overhaul, disrupting her senses, emotions, activities – and her life. These have an immense impact on the workings of the endocannabinoid system.
By interacting with various endocannabinoid and non-endocannabinoid receptors and pathways, CBD seems to regulate sleep patterns, memory, appetite, immune responses, hormone balance, moods, etc., thus promoting proper functioning of the ECS.
Here are a few studies that indicate CBD indeed has a part to play in a menopausal woman’s body:
- According to a 1993 study, published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, CBD has been seen to impact all hormones, including sex hormones, growth hormone somatotropin, and the stress hormone cortisol, keeping you calm and balanced.
- A 2007 Polish university study, published in the Postępy Higieny i Medycyny Doświadczalnej (transl: Advances in Hygiene and Experimental Medicine), also indicates that CBD can help establish the hormonal balance in the body.
- A 2013 study, published in the International Journal of Endocrinology, pointed out the role of ECS in the regulation of hormonal glands. The main purpose of the paper was to establish that any imbalance in the ECS can negatively impact the sex hormones and their glands, disrupting the hormone homeostasis and leading to the development of cancerous cells in these glands.
- Talking about cancer, most exogenous or phytocannabinoids are proven to be an effective agent of fighting breast cancer. Such a study, which reviewed both pre-clinical and clinical evidence, was published in the journal Cancers in 2020. However, the researchers added that more clinical trials are needed to establish the safety of cannabinoid treatments for breast cancer patients.
- A 2019 review, published in the Journal of Ovarian Research, also indicated a definitive connection between the endocannabinoid and endocrine systems, adding that the impact of medical cannabis needs to be studied further.
Although some of these studies expressed concern over the safety of CBD use on women’s reproductive system, they did establish the connection between the ECS and endocrine health.
Besides, unlike THC (Δ-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is known to be a non-toxic component of cannabis. It has usually been seen to be a safe compound that can even counter most of the THC’s toxic effects and other addictive substances.
8 Ways CBD Can Help Menopausal Women
During menopause, it’s the hormonal imbalance that causes all the problems. The previously mentioned studies have shed some light on how CBD could impact the ECS in establishing homeostasis. However, CBD isn’t a magical cure-all. It can’t reverse a woman’s aging process – that includes menopause.
There are still ways in which CBD can fight menopausal symptoms:
- Genitourinary Syndrome: Vaginal dryness can cause both discomfort and pain, particularly during sexual intercourse. This is generally a result of insufficient blood circulation in the vagina caused by reduced estrogen levels. Poor blood circulation causes inadequate lubrication. The pain, combined with the low estrogen levels, automatically reduces a woman’s libido. CBD is a potent vasodilator, i.e. it promotes blood circulation. Topical products, like CBD-infused lubricants and suppositories, have entered the market for menopausal women with such problems.
- Ease Joint Pain & Inflammation: Most people use Cannabidiol to ease pain and inflammation, especially those associated with joints and muscles. Researchers from the University at Albany, who surveyed menopausal women in 2016, found that medical cannabis helped relieve some symptoms, like joint and muscle discomfort, irritability, sleep disturbances, and depression. However, they didn’t find any improvement in vaginal dryness and bladder issues. Another review, published in the Current Opinion in Rheumatology, also indicates that CBD may be an effective agent in the treatment of joint pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis – a condition caused by low estrogen levels. Besides, a 2016 studyin the European Journal of Pain, also exhibited the efficiency of transdermal (topical) CBD use in rats.
- Bone Density Loss or Osteoporosis: Research shows that CBD’s interaction with a cannabinoid receptor, Neutrophil, plays a role in controlling bone density. It suggests that CBD could slow down bone density loss during menopause. New research indicates that arthritic inflammation, specifically inflammatory TNFα, may be causing bone resorption. CBD can lower TNFα levels in animal models. However, human evidence to this effect is still awaited.
- Hot Flashes & Night Sweats: These are “vasomotor” symptoms, caused by chemical alterations in the brain’s hypothalamus (body’s thermostat). This system seems to turn on too easily in women who suffer from hot flashes (even a mere rise of 1.5° instead of the usual 3°). Although SSRIs and antidepressants are the usual first line of treatment, CBD’s influence over the body’s serotonin system could help too.
- Weight Gain & Obesity: Due to low estrogen levels, the body burns fewer calories – even if one exercises – leading to weight gain, followed by insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Studies show that cannabis users have lower insulin levels and smaller waist sizes. CBD could help by inducing healthy metabolism through the PPAR-γ receptor. CBD can also inhibit natural endocannabinoids, like 2-AG that is linked with insulin resistance during menopause.
- Sleep Deprivation & Insomnia: While sleeplessness isn’t specific to menopausal women, it’s usually a sign of hormonal imbalance. CBD can effectively improve sleep due to its positive effects on moods. Studiesindicate a direct link between CBD and improved sleep quality. In another 2019 clinical trial, it was seen that CBD use by 72 adults displayed improvements in anxiety (79% of the patients) and sleep (among 67% of patients) within a month.
- Attention & Memory Loss: Menopausal women are often seen to lose their focus and memory. There’s some evidence of CBD aiding with both attention deficit and memory loss However, these studies were based on other contexts. Whether it works on menopausal women is yet to be tested.
- Mood Swings & Depression: Women often suffer from mood swings, anxiety, and depression with the onset of menopause. Studies show that CBD can modulate moods and calm the nerves, making it easier for women to ease into the right mental state for sex and also deal with the changes in her body. CBD has been seen to have a high success rate in alleviating anxiety-related problems and signs of depression.
CBD Can Help. But Use It Like A Health Supplement
Going through menopause can be terrible, but it’s inevitable. Preparing oneself for it is probably the best thing one can do. While there are several therapies to manage the symptoms, many women have found refuge in CBD products.
However, the sheer lack of sufficient and reliable evidence has made it difficult to be sure if it can help all menopausal women. Besides having a few (although rare and very mild) side effects, CBD may not always be equally effective on everyone.
Researchers have only just started to scratch the surface of CBD’s efficiency and safety issues. A lot more research needs to be done before doctors can prescribe CBD for menopausal symptoms.
If you still want to try, first consult your doctor. Assess the pros and cons, do your market research, and find yourself a CBD brand that’s genuine, reliable, transparent, and responsible – preferably one that sources its products from homegrown hemp.