New cannabis Seedfinder—find your match!

By Adam Parsons

The symptoms of menopause are usually difficult to treat. The current pharmaceutical treatment options such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have considerable risks and are not effective in the long-term. Here is a look at the reasons why CBD may be a great option for relieving menopause symptoms.

WHAT IS MENOPAUSE?

At some point in their life, women will go through menopause. Menopause occurs when a woman no longer has a menstrual cycle. This experience results from the genetically programmed loss of follicles (structures that contain eggs) in the ovaries. The condition may also occur when the ovaries are removed surgically.

In either case, the cessation of menstrual periods indicates oestrogen hormone deficiency. Menopause does not occur suddenly. There is a phase called perimenopause that often begins a few years before the final menstrual cycle. The average age of menopausal women today is about 51 years. However, it can occur as early as 40 to as late as the early 60s.

Early menopause tends to occur in women who have never had children or those who smoke. Menopause is not a disease, but has a range of symptoms. These include hot flashes, night sweats, palpitations, difficulty sleeping, mood changes, vaginal dryness, forgetfulness, decreased sexual drive and function, urine leakage, and joint problems.

Since the life expectancy of women today is over 80 years, most can expect to live around 30 to 40 years of their lives in the postmenopausal state. The symptoms of menopause can affect women for a significant amount of time.

Estrogen Hormone Level

THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM AND MENOPAUSE

There is extensive research on the complex role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in female fertility, including the onset of menopause. Current research indicates that some fundamental changes occur in the ECS and related biological systems during the menopausal transition.

The ECS is a biological network of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptor proteins found in the central and peripheral nervous systems of mammals. This means that the network permeates the entire body and regulates a number of physiological and cognitive processes, including fertility.

The ECS controls the interaction of cannabinoids such as CBD with the body. Oestrogen is one of the hormones that facilitates proper ECS function. It achieves this by regulating fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) levels in the blood. FAAH levels fall when oestrogen production declines. During ovulation, oestrogen and endocannabinoid levels peak. FAAH facilitates the breakdown of the endocannabinoid anandamide.

Anandamide has an ovarian function whereby it helps in the maturation and release of the egg during ovulation. Another role of oestrogen is activating the ECS for the regulation of emotional response. These declining interactions between the ECS and oestrogen indicate that the symptoms of menopause may arise from reduced endocannabinoid activity.

CBD and Menopause Symptoms

Some patients are looking to CBD for potential relief. But what does the science say about the cannabinoid for menopause? 

1: LOSS OF BONE DENSITY

Loss of bone density can occur in many women during menopause. If left untreated, this can lead to osteoporosis and other debilitating bone ailments. Oestrogen is responsible for regulating the process that replaces old bone cells with new cells.

A decline in oestrogen levels results in the bones becoming gradually weaker. Osteoclasts are the special cells involved in breaking down bones. Bone loss occurs when osteoclast activity is aggressive.

Osteoclasts are equipped with GPR55 receptors, which some researchers refer to as the third cannabinoid receptor, or CB3. However, overstimulation of this receptor can drive bone loss. CBD works to block this receptor site, and researchers are exploring what this means for maintaining bone density[1].

Stages And Symptoms Of Menopause

2: HOT FLASHES

This is among the most common symptoms of menopause. Women experience hot flashes as an intense buildup in body heat, starting in the chest and face, followed by sweating and chills. Some women report anxiety as the sensation builds.

The aforementioned anandamide, an endocannabinoid, helps in the regulation of body temperature. CBD is thought to increase the levels of anandamide in the body by inhibiting the action of FAAH. The overall effect is an improved ability to control body temperature.

3: INSOMNIA

Insomnia in menopausal women occurs as a result of the other symptoms such as migraines, hot flashes, and joint stiffness. If left untreated, lack of proper sleep often affects other areas of a woman’s life.

A limited number of human trials have explored the impact[2] of CBD on anxiety and sleep. Despite collecting data from a good sample of CBD users, researchers stress the need for further randomised and controlled trials to ascertain definitive clinical guidance when it comes to using the cannabinoid in sleep conditions.

Insomnia And Cannabis

4: PAIN MANAGEMENT

The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can result in several painful conditions. These include joint stiffness, migraines, and muscle aches.

Because the ECS occupies pain signalling pathways in the nervous system, some scientists are looking into leveraging cannabinoids to target and interrupt pain-causing impulses. Studies regarding CBD and chronic pain[3] have often shown placebo-equivalent results (meaning it didn’t do anything). However, scientists are still putting the cannabinoid to the test in numerous models of chronic and acute pain.

5: MOOD SWINGS AND ANXIETY

Mood swings during menopause are the result of oestrogen and progesterone fluctuations. The mood swings are often accompanied with anxiety. In fact, menopause and anxiety go hand-in-hand.

Ongoing investigations are pitching CBD against stress, low mood, and anxiety in human trials. Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil administered the cannabinoid to patients with generalised social anxiety disorder before a simulated public speaking event[4]; a team from the same institution also measured changes in blood flow[5] to regions of the brain associated with anxiety following CBD application.

Early preclinical investigations are also looking into how CBD impacts neurochemistry on a cellular level, from its interaction with serotonin receptors[6] to its influence on endocannabinoid signalling[7].

The body of research regarding CBD and menopause continues to grow. However, findings remain inconclusive, and we’re a ways off from determining how the molecule truly impacts this natural biological process.

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External Resources:
  1. The putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55 affects osteoclast function in vitro and bone mass in vivo https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  2. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  3. A Balanced Approach for Cannabidiol Use in Chronic Pain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  4. Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients | Neuropsychopharmacology https://www.nature.com
  5. Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Regional Cerebral Blood Flow | Neuropsychopharmacology https://www.nature.com
  6. Agonistic properties of cannabidiol at 5-HT1a receptors - PubMed https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  7. Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Disclaimer:
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.