Menopause is a natural part of the aging process and marks the end of women’s menstruation. It is perfectly normal, but can be a difficult time in a woman’s life. Menopause can trigger a range of symptoms, both physical and psychological. Conventional treatments during this period include hormone replacement therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, estrogen creams and lifestyle changes. Could CBD play a role in relieving menopausal symptoms?
WHAT IS MENOPAUSE AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT WOMEN?
Menopause occurs about a year after a woman’s last period. It is caused by a change in hormone production as the body ages. In younger women, the ovaries produce higher levels of estrogen. Once menopause begins, lower estrogen levels mean that women can no longer get pregnant and will no longer menstruate. Women may experience menopausal symptoms several years before their last period. This is known as perimenopause and usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. However, premature menopause can occur at any time without a known cause in a woman’s life.
Perimenopause triggers a number of symptoms. Typical signs are irregular periods and heavy or light bleeding. Hot flashes are another common symptom. Hot flashes are a sudden sensation of heat throughout the body or in specific areas. Hot flashes usually last between 30 seconds and 10 minutes and occur about 1 to 2 years after a woman’s last period. Other symptoms include vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, insomnia, urinary incontinence, decreased libido, decreased bone density, and hair and skin changes.
The symptoms of menopause and perimenopause are not purely physical. Psychological effects usually accompany this significant change. The reality of aging and the loss of the ability to have children can be shocking for women. This awareness can lead to depression, irritability and mood swings.
CAN CBD HELP WITH MENOPAUSE?
Cannabis may seem unlikely to be a possible solution to these symptoms, but we do not suggest that women spend their menopausal days high. Cannabis contains hundreds of chemicals, many of which are non-psychotropic. CBD is one of these cannabis-derived molecules that has found its way into the legal dietary supplement market. CBD acts deep down, affecting many physiological systems’ receptors, including the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS has an essential regulatory function and helps maintain homeostasis. It has an enormous impact on mood, immunity, pain, sleep and fertility.
It is not only phytocannabinoids such as CBD that affect the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids created in the body, called endocannabinoids, are signaling molecules that are responsible for regulating this system. The endocannabinoid anandamide, also known as the “happiness molecule” because of its association with high feelings, plays an essential role in the functioning of the emotion control system. Estrogen is known to increase anandamide levels. However, as estrogen levels decline during menopause, levels of this chemical substance of happiness will also decline. This is one of the reasons for the mood swings experienced during menopause.
With this in mind, let’s find out what research has to say about the potential of CBD to relieve menopausal symptoms.
CBD AND MOVEMENT
Depression and anxiety are common symptoms of menopause. A change in hormone production and the reality of age-related changes can have a serious impact on mood. Although medications and lifestyle changes are often prescribed to treat these problems, researchers are studying how the CBD could be used in the same way.
In preclinical and clinical settings, research has shown that CBD can relieve anxiety by altering the activity of brain structures such as the limbic system. The cannabinoid also increases levels of anandamide by blocking its reuptake at the CB1 receptor site.
CBD does not only have its effects through the ECS. The molecule also targets the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A. The researchers believe that in this way, CBD could reduce negative mental states like anxiety.
CBD AND BONE DENSITY
There may be a decrease in bone density during menopause, a condition known as osteoporosis. Bones naturally become less dense as we age, but there is a clear link between decreased estrogen levels and osteoporosis. This is why this condition is much more common in women. As this disease develops, women are prone to fractures, spinal deformities and back pain. Nevertheless, studies suggest that CBD may lead to an increase in bone density and hardness. There is not much human research in this area, but in vitro and in vivo experiments have yielded promising results.
Bone density is maintained by a close balance between two cells: osteoblasts and osteoclasts. The former form fresh bone tissue, while the latter break down old bone. As estrogen levels decrease, the osteoclasts become more active. This means that bones break down more quickly and become progressively less dense. It is interesting to note that CB2 receptors are found on both osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Stimulation of this receptor is directly related to bone formation, making it a potential target for osteoporosis treatment. CBD has been shown to be a reverse agonist of this receptor site, making it a fascinating research topic in the field of osteoporosis.
CBD AND SLEEP
Menopausal women often have difficulty falling asleep at night. This may be due to feelings of anxiety, depression and hot flashes. Uncomfortable in the short term, these symptoms can eventually lead to fatigue and exhaustion. Can CBD help to tame the anxiety and stress of this disorder at its root? Again, given the ability of the cannabinoid to increase levels of anandamide (which has been shown to affect sleep), as well as the above-mentioned studies on CBD for anxiety relief, it is a fascinating candidate.
CBD AND PAIN
Because of menopause, pain can come in many forms. Fluctuations and decreases in estrogen can lead to cramps, breast tenderness, migraines, joint pain and painful sexual intercourse. CBD balms and lotions are designed specifically for this purpose. Although specific research has not yet been conducted on CBD and menopausal pain, much research indicates a beneficial relationship between CBD and different types of pain .
CBD AND MENOPAUSE: FINAL WORDS
It is important to realize that menopause is not a disease. It is an absolutely natural process. Therefore, there is no “cure” either. The symptoms of menopause are natural and unavoidable, though uncomfortable. CBD is not a panacea and its potential in the area of menopause is not yet clear. However, menopausal symptoms can have consequences on the body and mind. It is hoped that as more research is done, the true potential of CBD for menopause will be brought to light.