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The Menopause and CBD

The Menopause and CBD

By Holly Pigache

 

What are Common Symptoms of the Menopause?

In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51 years old and whilst not all women experience menopausal symptoms, most do and these can be very disruptive to normal life.  Common symptoms include: hot flushes (‘flashes’ in the US), night sweats, breaking out in a cold sweat, sleep disturbances, a shift in mood, possible anxiety, unhappy gut, decreased libido, forgetfulness, vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex.  During the menopause, a woman’s metabolism is affected, meaning it’s harder to stay slim and it’s common for women to put on weight. 

 

What’s Causing the Symptoms?

During the menopause, a woman’s body ceases to produce natural oestrogen and progesterone and this can cause myriad problems.  The lack of progesterone can harm the quality and quantity of head and body hair and oestrogen play a role in heat regulation (accounting for hot flushes and night sweats) as well as bone density and blood pressure.  The reduction of oestrogen results in osteoblasts (the cells that produce bone) inefficiently producing bone and this can lead to an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.  In a similar vein, oestrogen affects women’s cardiovascular systems and after menopause women’s risk factors of having a heart attack or a stroke are the same as men’s risk factors.  

 

How can CBD Help?

Not all women seek treatment for menopausal symptoms but those who choose to, have more options available to them than just hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  Whilst scientific research into the role CBD has on menopause is still in its early stages, there has been positive research showing a connection between the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the female reproductive system (e.g. 2019).  Preliminary research (2007) found that oestrogen, in particular, may interact with the ECS, subsequently impacting emotional behaviour (hence CBD’s potential mood-boosting qualities in menopausal women).  It’s no surprise that there’s a connection between the female reproductive system and the ECS because both CB1 and CB2 receptors are present in the ovaries (2009) and oestrogen and endocannabinoid levels peak at ovulation (2019).  This could be why many women find that CBD is hugely beneficial in reducing the unwanted symptoms of menopause, due to CBD’s interaction with the ECS.

 

CBD has also been found to help people fall asleep and stay asleep.  Whether this is due to CBD’s interaction with the sleep cycle (2014), CBD’s assistance in reducing anxiety (2010) or the role CBD plays in suppressing chronic pain (2018), the fact that CBD positively impacts the body’s sleep cycle could be one reason for CBD’s effectiveness in helping women through the menopause.  We all know that we sleep better when we’re in less pain and feeling less anxious, so if CBD minimises the perception of pain and reduces anxiety during the menopause then women are more likely to be able to have a good night’s sleep.  What’s more is that better sleep may in itself be contributing to a reduction in other symptoms of the menopause such as negative mood, decreased libido and forgetfulness.  As CBD plays a positive role in sleep-cycles, adding it to our daily routines can have a host of benefits (whether we’re menopausal or not)!  

 

What Else can be Done?

As well as incorporating CBD into her diet, there are other recommended lifestyle changes a woman can adopt to help with menopausal symptoms.  These include stopping smoking, exercising regularly, having a healthy, balanced diet, ingest calcium (this is especially important for women who are at high risk of developing osteoporosis), nourish your body with essential vitamins, watch your alcohol intake, nurture your sex life and remember that life doesn’t end with the menopause (the average British woman has over 30 years of her life ahead of her after the menopause).

 

Although research into CBD is still in its infancy, as more individuals turn to natural remedies for a host of ailments we’re excited for the game-changing research to come!

 

Key Resources:

Menopause in Perspective by Philippa Pigache.  Sheldon Press, 2010.

Medical News Today: Does CBD oil work for menopausal symptoms?  Medically reviewed by Eloise Theisen, updated on November 1, 2020.

 

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