Most of us don’t really consider menopause until we find ourselves on its doorstep, at which point we are unprepared to deal with its many symptoms. Some of us might not even recognise these symptoms during the early stages of peri-menopause but the sooner we do and proactively respond to the changes happening in our bodies, the better our future health will be.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the medical profession is also woefully unprepared to deal with the symptoms of menopause. Previous generations of women just ‘got on with it’ and so that the medical profession is only just now waking up to the needs of peri- and post-menopausal women. As a result, you, like many others, may be turning to traditional herbal medicines for support — because our great- great-grandmothers were probably on to something!
Menopause is one of the top 3 reasons women use therapeutic cannabis products — menstruation and sex are the other two. The good reputation that hemp and cannabis-derived CBD oils are gaining for treating peri- and post-menopausal symptoms isn’t based just on testimonials — scientific research also indicates how CBD could be useful for:
- Aches & joint pain
- Mood swings or depression
- Weight gain / diabetes
- Hot flashes
- Genitourinary syndrome (vaginal dryness, atrophy and bladder control problems)
- Sleep disruptions / insomnia
- Memory loss
In the past the oestrogen story was pretty simple, we run out of eggs, oestrogen levels drop off & we start menopause. In reality, menopause is not so clear-cut. For years before the menopause (a period called the peri-menopause), our oestrogen levels swing unpredictably high or low before the final plunge. And it’s not just oestrogen that goes on a roller-coaster ride — a full supporting cast of hormones that (more-or-less) kept our bodies operating smoothly over the years also begin rebelling.
Controlled by these hormones, countless molecules in our bodies also increase or decrease. Our brain neuro chemistry changes. Our bodies ramp up production of inflammatory molecules. From brain function to fat accumulation to bone reabsorption — menopause changes the inner workings of our bodies. And each woman’s experience of menopause will be unique.
So what is going on & how can CBD help?
Aches & Joint Pain Does your body hurt more than it used to? Don’t be so quick to blame it on age – without oestrogen, our bodies produce higher levels of inflammatory molecules meaning arthritic symptoms could skyrocket during menopause. More than 60% of women aged 40 to 64 suffer from pain in their muscles and joints.
How CBD could help It is more important than ever to reduce inflammation in your body during menopause. Cannabidiol has proven anti-inflammatory properties. Low-impact exercise and dietary changes are also excellent resources in a fight against inflammation.
Mood Swings & Depression It’s not unusual for women to experience anxiety or depression during menopause. Oestrogen and progesterone influence the activity of seretonin and other neuro transmitters in the brain — which directly affect mood. As levels of these hormones become erratic and eventually plummet, your neurochemistry will change.
How CBD could help If you’re emotionally distressed, you should seek the support of a medical professional. They might suggest therapeutic or pharmaceutical solutions. If you supplement your treatment with CBD oil, it turns out that CBD activates seretonin receptors in the brain.
Hot Flashes & Night Sweats We often joke about these but in reality they’re no laughing matter! They disrupt sleep and daily routines, which in turn can reduce a women’s quality of life. These symptoms are caused by altered neurochemistry in the hypothalamus — your body’s thermostat. In other words, your body’s cooling system — blood vessel dilation & sweat response — gets switched on way too easily.
How CBD could help Because hot flashes have a neurochemical basis, CBD’s influence on the body’s seretonin system could be one reason why some women swear by CBD for this symptom.
Weight Gain & Diabetes Hormones shape our bodies on so many levels, including controlling our metabolism. Without oestrogen, our bodies burn fewer calories and we also burn less fat during exercise. Even if you cut calories and maintain a stable weight throughout menopause, the ongoing hormonal shift tells your body to trade in lean muscle mass for abdominal fat. This pattern of fat storage unfortunately increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
How CBD could help Population studies have found that adults who use cannabis have lower insulin levels & smaller waist circumferences. CBD could contribute by activating the receptor which switches on genes for healthy metabolism. CBD also helps buffer the activity of natural endocannabinoids which are linked to insulin resistance and ramped up during menopause.
Memory loss It’s tempting to blame memory loss on age, but even younger women who go through early menopause due to surgery can experience rapid memory loss. The part of the brain responsible for memory, learning & emotion is the hippocampus & oestrogen and progesterone stimulate neurons in the hippocampus. Without these hormones the stimulation is reduced.
How CBD could help Scientists are actively researching CBD for encouraging synaptic plasticity and neuroprotection in the hippocampus.
Vaginal dryness, atrophy and bladder control Oestrogen helps keep blood flowing to the pelvic region, delivering fresh oxygen to the tissues of the urinary tract and sexual organs — keeping things elastic and healthy. Once menopause arrives, this blood flow is reduced.
How CBD could help Along with regular sexual activity, a topical lubricant that contains cannabinoids like CBD or THC — which are both potent vasodilators — can increase blood flow to the pelvic region. This keeps tissues healthy while also moisturising the vaginal canal. Topical CBD can also fight inflammation, relax muscles and calm nerves, making CBD-infused lube and suppositories one of women’s best companions through menopause.
Osteoporosis Our bodies constantly move calcium and other minerals in and out of bones. As we enter peri-menopause, the net result is often bone resorption (more bone is taken away than is added), resulting in lower bone density and therefore increased risk of fractures. We’ve all heard about the importance of dietary calcium and exercise for preventing osteoporosis, but new research also suggests that inflammation from arthritis can be one of the biggest causes of bone resorption!
How CBD could help The same anti-inflammatory features that make CBD oil a popular remedy for arthritic symptoms might also prove useful for bone health.
Sleep disturbance Many peri- and post-menopausal women have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, which can really wear a person down — triggering fatigue and a full spectrum of other health issues. Menopause might disrupt your sleep a number of different ways, including through night sweats, increased anxiety or depression.
How CBD could help People of all genders and ages report that CBD helps them get restorative sleep. It’s influence on neurochemistry and anxiety could help improve sleep for women experiencing insomnia or disruptive night sweats.
If you decide that CBD is something that may be able to help you as you go through the change ensure that you do your research and find a good quality product!