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By Luke Sholl

Menopause often causes women to go through annoying experiences for their body and mind. The number of postmenopausal women is increasing with the longer life expectance, and the number of women turning to cannabis instead of other medicines to ease the symptoms of menopause is likely to increase too.

There is no specific study on the effects of cannabis on women during their menopause period available today. However, we know that all parts of the endocannabinoid system are present in the genital system. The cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are present in the human ovary, and science has proven that our endocannabinoid system always tries to restore that biochemical balance called homeostasis. This probably happens also before, during, and after menopause.


First research on the endocannabinoid system’s activity in menopausal age is proving that underweight women, or women who enter menopause early, also have low endocannabinoid levels. At the opposite, a 2013 study found that obese postmenopausal women with symptoms of diabetes had abnormal endocannabinoid levels[1] in their blood compared with subjects with regular insulin sensitivity. Before that research, a 2005 study on postmenopausal women found that the obese ladies had increased levels of endocannabinoids.

Menopause can actually cause insulin resistance, thus triggering diabetes and obesity. Finding the relation between endocannabinoids and postmenopausal diabetes might open a path for a cannabis-based therapy. At the moment we can only observe that the prevalence of obesity in cannabis users is much lower than in the general population, as a recent study suggested. This might be good news for women entering the menopause age as cannabis consumers.

homeostasis menopause cannabis regulation balanceTARGETING CB1 AND CB2 RECEPTORS AGAINST OSTEOPOROSIS

Another overexpression of body’s own cannabinoids is found in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. A 2011 study found that during menopause CB2 receptors overproduction[2] does trigger an excessive activity in osteoclasts, causing new growing bone tissue to be reabsorbed too quickly. Osteoclasts are our immune system’s bone cells which constantly break down other bone cells in order to regulate bones’ growth and health. This last study paves the way to the use of CB2 agonist or CB1 antagonist substances in the treatment of osteoporosis.

Other studies have shown that the inactivation of the CB1 or CB2 receptors reduces the excessive bone breakdown that causes osteoporosis, helping maintaining a regular bone mass. Even more than with diabetes, these results are disclosing a future development of a cannabinoid-based therapeutic approach for osteoporosis, a condition that women possibly have to face after menopause age.


While cannabinoid drugs against diabetes and osteoporosis are yet to be developed, vast clinic literature is available about cannabis and pain reduction. CBD and THC exert analgesic action, both alone or combined with one another in different proportions. As a result, cannabis derivatives can be powerful and safe pain relievers for patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or neuropathic pain. Some other typical symptoms of menopause such as headaches, back pain and breast pain might also find relief. We already mentioned that cannabis can be effective also in contrasting period pain.


Cannabinoids generally speed up the onset of sleep, improve its quality and reduce the likelihood of waking up in the middle of the night. In most people, cannabis increases the time spent in the deep sleep phase, which is the most restoring one. However, high doses of THC can increase anxiety, and the role of the endocannabinoid system in mediating psychological conditions is far from being clear. However, women with anxiety related to menopause can safely experiment with cannabis and its extracts, especially all the products with high CBD content certified by reliable manufacturers.

All kinds of therapies with cannabis are strongly dose-dependent, and they can exert different effects according to each product’s CBD:THC ratio. Not to mention the eventual presence of other cannabinoids and terpenes further modifying the therapeutic effect. While your friends might tell you that they feel like a million bucks after smoking a joint or taking CBD oil, little research details the true mood-altering effects of these cannabinoids in humans. 

terpenes  ancient remedy sexual arousal cdb thcFinally, cannabis can increase sexual arousal, remove some inhibitions, and enhance the skin’s sensitivity to touch. This herb’s aphrodisiac effect might even work better in women than in men, therefore this is another possible interesting benefit for women after menopause. More generally, we already talked about the different effects cannabis can exert on men and women.

As a future research development, scientists are trying to discover the eventual relation between the low levels of estrogen showed by menopausal and postmenopausal women, and the level of self-produced cannabinoids. Since low estrogen levels during and after menopause may have a huge impact on mood and psychological conditions, the possibility that cannabinoids might regulate the production of these hormones is fascinating for future medicine.


One more time science is confirming what ethnomedicine already stated for centuries. Using cannabis to ease menopausal symptoms is nothing new, and up until the years of prohibitionism this herb was prescribed as a potent analgesic for menopausal women. Since very little lab research or clinical studies has been done on the subject there are no guidelines for cannabis compounds proportions and dosage in menopausal or postmenopausal women. However, in this article we discovered that women have their own preferred strains.

Treating major menopause symptoms with cannabinoids requires collaboration between the patient and an experienced physician, especially in case a lady had no previous experience with cannabis. Since there are so many different products available, ranging from completely non psychoactive to very psychoactive, it’s important to understand exactly what kind of cannabis derivatives could fit each person’s needs across the different stages of life.


External Resources:
  1. Circulating endocannabinoids in insulin sensitive vs. Insulin resistant obese postmenopausal women http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com
  2. The endovanilloid/endocannabinoid system: A new potential target for osteoporosis therapy - ScienceDirect http://www.thebonejournal.com
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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