Menopause & CBD
Modern society treats aging women much like Hollywood does – after 40 you virtually disappear. Unfortunately, this causes the needs, desires, and health of people transitioning into menopause unheard. During this spring and fall of the reproductive system, women need empowering natural remedies to smoothly transition during this very important right of passage. Perhaps CBD can be a tool to help with some of the menopausal symptoms like heat flashes, vaginal dryness, and hormonal imbalances. Based on scientific research and experience reports, we’ll cover how CBD might help cool your body, balance your moods, maintain internal health, and boost your sex drive during the stages of menopause.
What is menopause?
When one thinks about menopausal women, it’s often the unsavory stereotypes of mood swings and hysteria. It’s an all too common chauvinistic mantra that casts a shadow on a very important time for women’s bodies. Think of menopause as the final stage of one’s menstrual cycle. Within this state comes, premenopause (any phase of a person’s life before menopause) perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Yet menopause officially occurs when your ovaries have stopped producing the hormones responsible for your menstrual cycle. This process may occur anywhere between the ages of 40 to 581 either naturally, through surgery, or triggered by forms of chemotherapy. Regardless of when or how this happens, it can be a whirlwind of mixed emotional and physical symptoms which often are never fully addressed.
Menopause is characterized by the depletion of ovarian follicles and cells critical in reducing the function of the ovaries. This results in lowered levels of reproductive hormones found in the body – particularly estrogen, testosterone, and sometimes androsterone. When these hormones are unbalanced and scarce, one’s body reacts by showing the following symptoms:
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of bladder control
- Thinning of hair
- Decreased elasticity of skin
- Loss of sexual drive
- Bone loss
Hormone replacement treatment
Hormone treatment (HT) is a form of medical treatment where depleted hormones due to menopause are replaced to encourage balance. It has been one of the only western forms of treatment for people suffering from menopausal symptoms. Though it has been effective in aiding with postmenopausal depression, hot flashes, and possibly bone loss, HT has many risks2, including a higher chance of heart disease, blood clots, breast cancer, stroke, and an increased risk for dementia in women 65 years of age or older.
We know hormonal balance is important and that there are more ways to find that balance. Let’s find out more about this equilibrium by looking deeper into the relationship between CBD and menopause.
Can CBD Help with Menopause?
As we are continuously blown away by the science, medical research and anecdotal evidence of cannabis, we’re also discovering that the endocannabinoid system and its CB1 and CB2 receptors play a crucial role in stabilizing and regulating all systems within the body – playing a central role during menopause. This stabilizing can help with inflammation, immune function, pain, sleep, memory, fertility, and temperature regulation – all beneficial to bodies undergoing the symptoms of menopause. While we don’t have all the research to show that CBD can beneficially influence all menopause symptoms, it most certainly is proven to be helpful for the following:
Regulation of Mood
Mood swings are real and oftentimes a byproduct of hot flashes (which we’ll go over next). These combined manifest into one of the most disruptive attacks on the body. A hormonal wave of mood swings can be difficult as hell to navigate – with or without all the other symptoms of menopause.
A 2010 study discovered that CBD may operate in a way similar to how antidepressant medications interact with the brain, which would be good news for anyone feeling their mood dip during menopause. “CBD induces antidepressant-like effects comparable to those of the antidepressant drug, imipramine. These effects of CBD were probably mediated by the activation of 5-HT1A receptors (a subtype of serotonin receptor). It may be that CBD could also help to stabilize mood in humans.”3
In addition, due to the neurochemical foundation of temperature influxes, these antidepressant-like effects of CBD may be known to calm and cool the nervous system.4
The loss of bone density is often caused by one main culprit: bone resorption. Bone resorption is reabsorption of the bone that breaks down the tissue and releasing its minerals to the blood. With a premenopausal body, these minerals are replenished regularly but during menopause, it slows, taking these beneficial minerals without replacing them. This leaves menopausal bodies with weaker bones that are more prone to fractures and breakage.
Though this can sometimes be prevented early on through exercise, and a diet high in calcium and vitamin D, it can sometimes be unavoidable during the phase of menopause especially when coupled with the inflammation of arthritis. Some research has found that CBD can interact with receptors decreasing bone resorption. Thus, it may be able to reduce the rate of bone density loss that can occur during menopause.5 Hell yes!
Vaginal Dryness + Pain
This is a touchy subject (no pun intended) due to it being so taboo amongst women of menopausal age. We get it, no one wants to talk about their vagina being dry. Yet it’s an issue for women of all ages. Perhaps understanding why can help shift the attitudes towards treatment. Vaginal pain is sometimes induced by dryness––though we don’t dismiss the pain that many people experience during intercourse due to other psychological or psychological reasons. This means that dryness overall is a multi-layered issue. But when we speak about the dryness and pain of menopausal bodies it mostly is linked to hormones.
Fun fact: the ovaries produce the bulk of testosterone found in the female body. Howbeit when that person is going through the stages of menopause, they may undergo a decrease of hormones produced by the ovaries, including estrogen and androgens like testosterone.6 Testosterone and estrogen are both responsible for not only the regulation of a healthy libido, but also known to regulate healthy blood flow in the pelvic area.7 When blood is pumping to your sex organs at a healthy rate, it creates a supple and stretchy vagina overall. This in turn keeps tissues healthy while also moisturizing the vaginal canal.
So how does a person increase lubrication, elasticity and overall health in their vaginal region? Sex and cannabis. Lots of it, like a teenager. Increased healthy sexual activity, in addition to sublingual CBD oil and a topical cannabis lubricant (THC and/or CBD) can work to naturally increase the flow of blood where you need it the most. These areas of the skin increase moisture and to allow for your vagina to relax, feel less pain, and less symptoms of vaginal atrophy.8 CBD and menopause might make a great coupling after all.
Memory loss may be triggered during the stages of menopause. Yet memory loss shouldn’t always be linked to older age or menopausal people. In fact, it can often be caused by various traumatic and or physical developments in the human brain, premature menopause, or even chronic THC usage, damn.9
In this case, we are speaking specifically to menopause and its symptoms of memory loss. This is usually caused by the degradation of hormones such as *ding ding ding* estrogen; known to be linked to memory. According to Judith Marcin, MD, “[estrogen] has a role in regulating a variety of brain chemicals, along with many functions of the nervous system.”10 The beauty is that we’re discovering more about how memory loss in some cases may be reversed through herbal treatments––one of those herbs happens to be our bestie, cannabis. Harvard’s Peter Grinspoon, MD states that there is some evidence that cannabis is neuroprotective.11 The neuroprotective properties of cannabis have also been noted while examining how it works to protect the neurons of the brain during epileptic seizures.12
Listen up: Menopausal people are beautiful, seasoned, knowledgeable, and can fool around without the risk of pregnancy, lol. It’s a powerful and potent time to reconnect to your body’s changes and one should be able to do so without oppressive menopausal symptoms. There needs to be more scientific research on CBD and menopause (hello, researchers!), but there’s a growing body of evidence pointing toward symptom relief. If you’re looking to add CBD to your menopausal wellness routine, make sure to check in with your physician.
1J Ginsberg. What determines the age at the menopause?. U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. June 1991. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1670030/?page=1
2Mayo Clinic staff. Hormone therapy: Is it right for you? Mayo Clinic. 2018 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/in-depth/hormone-therapy/art-20046372
3TV Zanelati et al. Antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol in mice: possible involvement of 5-HT1A receptors. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2010 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2823358/
4Janet S. Carpenter, PhD, RN, et al. Evaluating the Role of Serotonin in Hot Flashes After Breast Cancer Using Acute Tryptophan Depletion. Menopause. Author manuscript; National Center for Biotechnology. 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2714664/
5Marcelo H.Napimoga. Cannabidiol decreases bone resorption by inhibiting RANK/RANKL expression and pro-inflammatory cytokines during experimental periodontitis in rats. Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Uberaba, Brazil. 2009. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567576908003469
6Rachel Nall, RN, BSN, CCRN; Medically reviewed by Michael Weber, MD. Can Women Have Low Levels Of Testosterone? Healthline. 2017 https://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone-in-women
7Abdulmaged M.TraishPhD et at. Testosterone Increases Blood Flow and Expression of Androgen and Estrogen Receptors in the Rat Vagina. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2007 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1743609515315538
8Gass ML et al. Patterns and predictors of sexual activity among women in the Hormone Therapy trials of the Women’s Health Initiative. Menopause. 2011 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21983008
9M Yücel et al. Hippocampal harms, protection and recovery following regular cannabis use. Translational Psychiatry. 2016. https://www.nature.com/articles/tp2015201
10Cirino, E. and Marcin, J. Alzheimer’s, Memory Loss, Dementia, and Menopause. Healthline. Oct 9 2017. https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/memory-alzheimers
11Nguyen, Brian M. et al. Effect of Marijuana Use on Outcomes in Traumatic Brain Injury. The American Surgeon. (2014). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25264643/
12 Anna Capasso. Do Cannabinoids Confer Neuroprotection Against Epilepsy? An Overview. The Open Neurology Journal. 2017 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5738750/
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