Categories
BLOG

cbd estrogen

CBD oil and menopause

Copy article link to clipboard.

Link copied to clipboard.

Contents

  1. Research overview
  2. Patient perspective

A normal and inevitable part of aging, menopause is a transitional period when menstruation ceases. Menopause can cause a wide range of symptoms, many of which vary from one woman to the next. Most often occurring between the ages of 45 and 55, this transition typically lasts around seven years.

During menopause, estrogen levels significantly drop, causing numerous symptoms. However, research is beginning to suggest that cannabis and the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) may be able to help counteract some of these effects without the possible dangers of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Notably, combination HRT and estrogen-only therapy have shown to increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, according to Breastcancer.org. Even short-term combination HRT may increase the risk of breast cancer at an alarming rate of 75 percent.

CBD, as well as THC, have become key areas of interest, offering potential low-risk treatment options for menopause symptoms. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Image lightbox

Cannabidiol (CBD) and THC have become key areas of interest, offering potential low-risk treatment options for menopause symptoms. Women of all ages have experienced CBD-related relief in relation to other female-specific hormone-related conditions and symptoms, including premenstrual syndrome (PMS), as reported in an article published in 2017 in the journal Addiction Research & Theory.

Research overview

While studies on CBD and menopause are limited, there is evidence that high-quality CBD products may help combat associated symptoms. This is particularly true when CBD is combined with other treatment options.

According to a literature review published in 2019 in the Journal of Ovarian Research, the ECS impacts female reproductive tissues and processes, playing a vital role in temperature regulation, sleep, pain, mood, memory, and immune function.

Several studies have reported the positive effects of CBD and CBD-rich cannabis oil on mood changes, joint pain, and sleep problems, all commonly associated with hormonal changes during menopause. Though the studies didn’t look specifically at menopause, the results indicate that CBD could provide relief for these symptoms regardless of their cause.

In addition, numerous studies have identified the potential impact of CBD on mood, including its inherent anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that cannabis significantly reduced perceptions of depression, anxiety, and stress in both women and men. Researchers also reported that women experienced greater reductions in anxiety compared to men and that low-THC/high-CBD strains were best for reducing symptoms of depression.

Aches and joint pain frequently occur post-menopause, as reduced estrogen levels tend to produce higher levels of inflammation. Luckily, CBD has been shown to offer relief from pain and inflammation, as reported in a 2015 literature review published in the journal Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry

Aches and joint pain are also often reported post-menopause, as reduced estrogen levels tend to produce higher levels of inflammation. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Image lightbox

In addition, a 2016 study published in the European Journal of Pain examined the efficiency of transdermal CBD for pain and inflammation in rats. Researchers found that topical CBD can help reduce swelling as well as other signs of inflammation. The study concluded that CBD provides potential therapeutic relief when aiming to treat arthritis pain, as well as inflammation, without any apparent side effects.

Sleep disturbances are also an area of concern among menopausal and postmenopausal women, with 61% reporting insomnia symptoms. In a 2019 study published in the Permanente Journal, researchers were interested in whether CBD would improve sleep and anxiety among a clinical population. After providing CBD treatment to 72 adults, the researchers found that anxiety scores decreased in 79% of patients within the first month and sleep scores improved in 67% of patients within the first month.

Patient perspective

Dr. Melanie Bone, a board-certified OB-GYN and cannabis specialist, shared the stories of two of her patients who are going through menopause and using CBD as a treatment option. Names have been redacted in accordance with patient privacy laws.

J.A. is a 52-year-old woman who has had one period in the last six months. She has trouble sleeping because she is awakened with hot flashes and sweats. This makes her tired during the day and she feels depressed because she can’t get a good night’s sleep. J.A.’s sister had breast cancer at age 54 and she is worried about being diagnosed herself. She is scared to use hormones due to the history of breast cancer in her family.

Dr. Bone said, “The patient wanted a consult because she is having so much trouble concentrating at work that she is afraid she will lose her job. After I explained to her that she could opt to try hormones, she decided to try cannabinoids first, with hormones as a fallback. Currently, she is doing exceedingly well with excellent management of most of her complaints. Just a few daytime hot flashes remain as a reminder of her menopause.”

Using both cannabis and bioidentical hormones may be helpful to some menopausal patients. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Image lightbox

C.T. is a postmenopausal patient who uses both cannabis and bioidentical hormones. She told Weedmaps, “I was using bioidentical hormones to help with hot flashes, mood changes, and dryness. After discussing my situation with Dr. Bone, we agreed that I might benefit from the addition of cannabis.

“Now that I have been using both, I feel great. I have no more symptoms of menopause and my husband is delighted to have me back to my old self.”

It is important to note that these are individual testimonials and results will vary among patients. Be sure to consult with your physician before beginning a CBD regimen to address the symptoms of menopause.

What the experts say

Researchers are only just beginning to understand how the ECS works in relation to menopause and other health-related conditions. However, for those looking for an alternative therapy option, CBD may show great promise, according to some physicians.

“There are more issues at stake in menopause: sexual dysfunction, dryness, urinary complaints, and weight changes,” Dr. Bone said. “While some of these complaints are best managed with hormones, in women who have contraindications to using estrogen, such as a history of breast cancer, there is a definite role for cannabinoids to help as well.”

Bone continued, “There is a wealth of history and tradition pointing to the efficacy of cannabis for a variety of women’s conditions, from menstrual cramps to postpartum hemorrhage. The THC of cannabis helps with aches and pains associated with arthritis that sets in with menopause. It also helps with some of the mood swings that can herald the onset of menopause. CBD is important to manage anxiety that is almost universal during menopause. The combination of CBD and THC is essential to help with sleep problems, which are all too common in menopausal women. The ratio that works depends on which complaints are most prominent, but I find that a 1:1 is the sweet spot for a lot of women. In addition, local cannabinoids can be added for vulvovaginal-vaginal complaints and painful sex.”

Dr. Adie Rae, a neuroscientist and scientific adviser to Weedmaps, added, “Although cannabis does not address vaginal dryness, it has been shown to increase libido, decrease pain, and enhance orgasm.”

In fact, certain cannabis strains and products have been designed with women’s sexual pleasure in mind. CBD topicals like Night Moves, Happy Clam Oil, and Smooth Operator are all touted to enhance women’s sexual wellness.

Bottom line

CBD oil and CBD-rich cannabis oil may combat some of the most problematic symptoms associated with menopause, including sleep disturbances, mood changes, and aches. Anecdotal evidence and animal model studies suggest that combined cannabinoids, rather than the more readily available CBD isolate, may be better at alleviating some of the more severe symptoms associated with menopause. When high-quality CBD oil is combined with positive lifestyle changes, there may be a greater synergistic effect, though further research is necessary.

While studies on CBD and menopause are limited, there is evidence that high-quality CBD products may help combat associated symptoms. This is particularly true when CBD is combined with other treatment options.

Can Cannabis Replace ERT For Menopause?

Michele Ross, PhD, MBAFollow

drmicheleross.com | Cannabis, Mushrooms & Fibromyalgia | 5-Time Author
  • Like 49
  • Comment 14

Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is hormone therapy prescribed to millions of menopausal and postmenopausal women to control symptoms of menopause including hot flashes and bone loss. Cannabis is an optimal alternative for women who can not take ERT due to history of breast or ovarian cancer, heart disease, or lack of health insurance. ERT is associated with increased risk for heart attack, blood clots, gallstones, stroke, breast cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease, which makes the benefits of ERT not worth the risk for most women. Instead of taking ERT, look into taking alternative phytoestrogens, like increasing soy in your diet and taking red clover supplements. As an added bonus, phytoestrogens also boost endocannabinoid levels.

Bone loss is one of the major reasons doctors prescribe ERT, but it is clear cannabis treatment can be an alternative for stopping bone loss and treating menopausal symptoms. Cannabis, specifically the cannabinoids cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidiol (CBD), (CBC) and THCV, stimulate bone growth and may be able to prevent osteoperosis after menopause. A synthetic drug that activates CB2 receptors prevented bone loss after surgical menopause, suggesting women that undergo surgical menopause should use cannabis.

Menopausal women don’t have to choose between ERT and cannabis. If you believe ERT has some value, but are worried about the risk of breast cancer associated with it, you can use cannabis or CBD to reduce your breast cancer risk while you use ERT. THC and most of the major cannabinoids do not interact with the estrogen receptor, but CBD does at high doses. Also apigenin, a flavinoid found in cannabis, binds the estrogen receptor strongly and can inhibit growth of breast cancer cells. CBD has been shown to to kill breast cancer cells independent of its activity on cannabinoid receptors, and avoids killing healthy breast tissue. This means if you take CBD while using ERT, CBD may kill any breast cancer cells that start dividing before they grow into a tumor.

Women that cannot use ERT due to breast cancer risk or other medical problems are often prescribed non-hormonal prescription drugs, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Effexor and Prozac or Gabapentin (neurontin), a drug primarily used to treat seizures. Cannabis can be subsituted for any of these drugs to successfully treat symptoms while reducing numerous unwanted side effects of these prescription drugs, including weight gain, gastrointestinal distress and sexual dysfunction. Cannabis can boost serotonin signaling and lower body temperature, which can reduce hot flashes and anxiety found in menopause.

Total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels increase during menopause, which boost risk of heart disease. Cannabis use is associated with higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, which can balance out the increase in “bad” cholesterol found in meonpause. Cannabis can also lower insulin levels, which prevents the development of type 2 diabetes.

Menopause can also cause an increase in facial hair. Topical creams containing cannabis or THC have been shown to slow the growth of hair, and may be appropriate to use in conjuction with hair removal techniques such as waxing or depilatories. Cannabis topicals may also reduce skin dryness because they promote oil production in the skin.

One of the most overlooked aspects of female health is healthy and enjoyable sex. Menopause can lower sex drive and cause pain during sex. The doctor’s answer to this is either ERT or a topical estrogen cream (Estrace) to apply to the vagina, which carries the same risks of ERT with the added risk of cancer of the uterus and dementia. Who wants that? Cannabis can help boost sex drive, reduce pain during sex and enhance orgasms, and can be smoked, eaten, or applied topically depending on your needs.

Cannabis use may interfere with ovulation in some women, and long-term use may delay menopause in a similar way to hormone birth control does by preventing depletion of healthy eggs. Genetic studies in the future may reveal what women have their fertility negatively impacted by cannabis use.

How is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) Disrupted in Menopause?

Reduction in endocannbinoids signaling may be responsible for some of the negative symptoms we associate with menopause. This is not surprising as estrogen levels are linked to endocannabinoid levels, and both peak at ovulation, something that does not occur in menopausal and postmenopausal women. Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the enzyme that breaks down the endocannabinoid anandamide and controls it levels, is regulated by estrogen. In fact, activation of estrogen receptors and cannabinoid receptors on the same cells often synergize to produce greater effects than the combination of both by themselves.

All parts of the endocannabinoid system are present in the human ovary, including the endocannabinoid anandamide, and its receptors, CB1 and CB2. Anandamide has role in egg maturity and release during the menstrual cycle. Endocannabinoid deficiency, a state in which levels of anandamide are too low, may spur early menopause. Interestingly underweight women or women with anorexia, who enter menopause early, also have low endocannabinoid levels. Boosting levels of endocannabinoids or stimulating cannabinoid receptors with cannabis may help delay menopause.

Estrogen recruits the endocannabinoid system to regulate emotional response and relieves anxiety and depression through its actions on the brain. Lowered levels of estrogen during and after menopause means less activation of the endocannabinoid system, and poor ability to respond to stress and elevate mood accordingly.

The endocannabinoid system regulates the bone loss seen after menopause. Cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) are found on bone cells, called osteoblasts. A common mutation in the gene that codes CB2 in humans, resulting in fewer CB2 receptors, is associated with osteoperosis after menopause.

Women are more responsive to the pain relieving effects of cannabis and THC when their estrogen levels are at their highest. Because menopausal and postmenopausal women have low levels of estrogen, this means they will be less responsive to THC and require higher doses than premenopausal women to achieve the same amount of pain relief, and are likely to be closer to men in their response to cannabis. Premenopausal women develop tolerance to THC quickly, and may be more vulnerable to negative side effects of cannabis such as paranoia, anxiety, or dependence. Postmenopausal women may be able to stay on a stable dosage of THC or cannabis for the long-term, and may be less likely to feel anxious or paranoid from cannabis.

The endocannabinoid system’s role in menopause and postmenopausal health is an area of medicine lacking in research. One day genetic studies will see if mutations in endocannabinoid system genes are correlated with early or premature menopause. Because the reproductive system contains cannabinoid receptors that interact with estrogen, endocannabinoids directly influence the menstrual cycle and menopause.

How Can I Take Cannabis to Treat Menopause?

There are no clinical studies looking at cannabis use to aid menopausal or postmenopausal women, so dosage guidelines are still being developed. How you will use cannabis depends on what menopausal symptoms you are treating and whether you mind being slightly “stoned” from consuming cannabis or prefer nonpsychoactive doses.

If you live in a state with legal medical or recreational marijuana, edibles containing 10 mg of THC can help you get to sleep and keep night sweats to a minimum, and you won’t wake up feeling high or hungover. If you’d like to control your symptoms during the day, without feeling out of it, try “microdosing.” Microdosing means taking doses of THC that will provide symptom relief without causing dizziness or a “high.” Depending on your tolerance, this can be between 2.5 and 5 mg of THC at a time (try breaking a 10 mg THC candy into 1/2 or 1/4 portions). It’s important to eat cannabis daily if you’ve made the decision to forgo hormonal estrogen therapy (ERT), as you will need to stabilize your hormones. Cannabis will also protect against osteoporosis.

Vaporizing cannabis during the day can also relieve symptoms of menopause. Vaporizing cannabis is better than smoking cannabis in a joint, pipe, or bong because it doesn’t burn the cannabis. Smoking cannabis releases toxins similar to cigarettes, can cause lung irritation and often disintegrates cannabinoids with healing properties. Vaporizing cannabis heats the air around the cannabis, releasing a range of cannabinoids, each with unique health benefit. It is very important women vape cannabis and do not smoke it because smoking can further lower estrogen levels.

A new way to get cannabis into your body is via a transdermal patch, similar to the birth control patch or the nicotine patch. This discrete method provides extended release medication for up to ten hours and is perfect for people who feel uncomfortable with other methods such as vaporizing or eating cannabis.

If you live in a state where cannabis is illegal, you can order CBD products online, which will help boost levels of your natural endocannabinoids and also protect against bone loss and osteoporosis. CBD can be taken in conjunction with ERT to lower your risk of developing breast cancer. There are several ways to take CBD. You can vaporize CBD only oil, or to get the full health benefits, eat CBD oil, edibles, or pills. A great way to relax is with a tea containing CBD at night time. One note is that taking CBD may make other medications you take stay in your body longer than intended, similar to taking grapefruit juice. If you are going to be taking CBD daily and are on other prescriptions, talk to your doctor about the possibility of lowering your prescription dosages to be on the safe side.

On a final note, let’s get to how cannabis can improve your sex life during and after menopause. Cannabis can increase your sex drive, remove inhibitions, enhance your sensitive to touch, and help you feel closer to your partner. All these things add up to helping you orgasm, and cannabis may even strengthen and lengthen your orgasm. You can vape cannabis before sexual activity, but the effect will not last as long as an edible will. Take an edible 30 minutes to an hour before sexual activity so that it can “kick in.” Since you want to feel the psychoactive effects of THC, you don’t want to microdose, but you also don’t want to eat so much THC you have a bad experience, feel sick, or fall asleep. The perfect dose is different for each person; we suggest you started at 10-20 mg of THC the first time you use cannabis to improve your bedroom activities. If at anytime you don’t feel good, drink water, relax, and know that the THC will wear off eventually, just like the buzz from alcohol does. Remember the dose you gave yourself, and go lower next time.

Another option for improving your sexual experience without having any head “buzz” is using a lubricant with cananbis in it, that will only activate your clitoris and the tissue around it. A great brand to try is Foria, but it is currently only available in California and Colorado.

Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is hormone therapy prescribed to millions of menopausal and postmenopausal women to control symptoms of menopause including hot flashes and bone loss. Cannabis is an optimal alternative for women who can not take ERT due to history of breast or ovarian cancer, hear