CBD For Menopause: A Natural Way to Deal with The Symptoms
Unsurprisingly, there is increasing interest in cannabidiol (CBD) for menopause, especially with all the attention it's receiving for other health issues. Cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, are all demonstrating many supportive properties for total health and wellness. It was only a matter of time before someone started exploring the possibilities of CBD for menopause.
But just why is CBD for menopause such a good fit? Is it because the symptoms of menopause are difficult to treat, and the conventional therapies are problematic? Is it because more women are searching for alternatives to Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT)? Is it because there is now a deeper understanding of how intimately interconnected the endocannabinoid system is to the onset of menopause symptoms?
The reason why CBD for menopause is such an exciting alternative option is a combination of all of the above points.
The Backstory on Menopause
There are many assumptions about menopause to sift through before you uncover the truth. For one, it doesn’t just target middle age women; it can hit any woman at any time. Approximately one percent of women enter into premature menopause before they hit their 40’s, triggered by genetic predisposition, illness, disease or chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Many environmental factors can also trigger early onset menopause, although early menopause is typically only a few years before the age of 51 (the average age of onset). Smokers apparently enter menopause before non-smokers, and women living at high altitudes often become menopausal before their peers.
When menopause does hit, it's a very individualized experience. Some women only go through mild discomfort while others struggle with serious emotional and physical ups and downs. Mood swings, changes in sex drive, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, fluctuations in metabolism and more characterize just how frustrating the symptoms of menopause can be.
The Role of the Endocannabinoid System in Menopause
Menopause is a wild ride and intimately linked to the ups and downs of endocannabinoid production. Both estrogen and our bodies own endocannabinoids ebb and flow with ovulation. As a woman’s natural cycles start to slow down, it's natural that there are also changes in their endocannabinoid production.
As estrogen levels fall, there is a reduction in fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which is the means through which the human body regulates anandamide levels. One of the primary endocannabinoids affected by shifts in estrogen production is the “bliss molecule” or anandamide. Among other things, anandamide is responsible for pain, appetite, and fertility. Menopause triggers changes to anandamide management.
There are cannabinoid receptors in all areas of the female reproductive organs, including both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Given what we already know about CBD’s influence over these receptors, it's a logical assumption to believe that CBD could help reduce the signs and symptoms of menopause through interaction in the highly concentrated areas of endocannabinoid receptors.
Why CBD for Menopause Could be the Answer
There is no cure for menopause. It's the natural progression all women go through as they move into the post-menopausal phase of their life. These days, almost a third of a woman's life is in the postmenopausal years. The problem is neither the premenopausal nor the postmenopausal periods, but the transition between the two that continues to give women years of grief.
The conventional treatments, like estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) leave much to be desired. Often the long-term side effects of ERT’s are just too difficult to swallow. It's no secret that hormone replacement therapy comes with an increased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer's, breast cancer, blood clots and more. The problems of long-term SSRI use are equally as dangerous, especially for women already struggling with mood swings and decreased sex drive.
Some research shows that CBD could help prevent cancer, including breast cancer. These are preliminary results, but even for women already using ERT, it may be beneficial to supplement with CBD oil.
RELATED: Using CBD to Support with Breast Cancer.
But today, there are more natural choices on the table for women nervous about the long-term ramifications of the more traditional menopause therapies. Cannabidiol, along with other cannabinoids like cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) have many promising characteristics. With more research into how they could relate to the symptoms of menopause specifically, CBD might be just the tip of the iceberg for the future treatment of menopause.
During menopause, women find it increasingly difficult to sleep. Hot flashes, mood swings and overall discomfort continually disrupt a healthy sleep cycle. Soon, this lack of sleep trickles down into other areas of a woman's life and eventually increases the severity of all menopausal symptoms.
There is a growing body of research indicating that both CBD, THC and other cannabinoids are beneficial for improved sleep quality. While CBD itself may trigger a mild increase in wakefulness when taken before bed, CBD still facilitates a better and longer nights rest.
Bone Density Loss
Bone density naturally starts to decrease during menopause. In some circumstances, it can lead to future issues with osteoporosis and bone fragility. It’s common for doctors to prescribe ERT simply for the possible improvements to bone density. But, as we’ve discussed, ERT is not always a perfect long-term solution.
Cannabidiol, THCV, CBG, and CBC all are potential candidates for protecting against bone loss. In fact, these specific cannabinoids are known to stimulate bone growth. Cannabidiol, among the other cannabinoids, may represent a perfect alternative to ERT therapy for those women worried about bone density loss.
Alongside the inevitable hot flashes, the associated menopausal mood swings are an equally taxing part of hormonal changes. As hormones change, it changes the way women process and manage their stress levels. A woman's body continues to operate as per usual, but with an endocannabinoid deficiency. Its suddenly not as easy to process stress, anger, and daily pressures.
Thankfully, cannabinoids are already making incredible inroads as a powerful replacement to traditional SSRI drugs. It's a logical next step to bring the mood stabilizing capabilities of CBD, already evidenced for treating depression and anxiety, into the realm of menopausal women.
As a woman, we are taught to suppress and resist the transition from the premenopausal to the postmenopausal phase in our life. Although there are a few options meant to prevent or postpone the onset of menopause, the long-term side effects of these options are likely detrimental to our health. As the body of research on CBD for menopause expands, it could potentially provide relief to women experiencing some of the most frustrating symptoms of menopause, and all without the risk of serious side effects.