In order to help manage symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, mood changes and weakening in the bones leading to osteoporosis, many women rely on conventional treatment methods, such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). But others are opting for more natural remedies, including diet changes with an emphasis on foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Soy products, which are rich in phytoestrogens, also are thought to help balance hormones because they mimic the effects of estrogen.
Adding to the list of natural treatment options is CBD. There is some research to suggest that CBD may relieve certain menopause symptoms. To understand how CBD could help with menopause symptoms, your first need to understand how CBD works.
CBD is one of the over 60 cannabinoids or naturally-occurring chemicals found in industrial hemp and marijuana. Cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is made up of endocannabinoids or neurotransmitters that send chemical messages between neurons, the cells that transmit nerve impulses. The ECS has CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors.
The ECS stimulates and controls many of the body’s functions and restores balance whenever something happens with those body functions. For this reason, while no studies have looked directly at the effects of CBD on women experiencing menopause, there have been studies of the effects of CBD on symptoms associated with menopause, including:
Reduces inflammation: The activation of CB2 receptors can lower inflammation. When CBD interacts with the CB2 receptor, it inhibits inflammation.
Lowers joint aches and pain: While research on CBD continues, studies to date point to its pain-relieving effects. Matthew Halpert, an instructor of immunology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told U.S. News & World Report that CBD topical products can make the pain go away for a certain period of time. Research Halpert conducted found that topical CBD was able to reduce the production of inflammatory markers such as tumor necrosis factor alpha. People with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis overproduce this particular marker.
Another study reported in the European Journal of Pain looked into the effectiveness of a topical CBD gel on animal subjects to reduce inflammation and pain from arthritis. The CBD was applied to the animals for 4 consecutive days. Results indicated a significant drop in joint swelling and signs of pain. The data indicated that topical CBD has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side effects.
Improves sleep: Some research on CBD and sleep indicates that CBD may interact with specific receptors in the endocannabinoid system to potentially affect the sleep/wake cycle. Furthermore, by reducing the symptoms of pain and anxiety, CBD may also contribute to a more restful sleep.
Affects mood: Depression and anxiety are higher around the time of menopause, which may be due to changing hormones, other menopause symptoms, or both. Animal studies have found that CBD can reduce the effects of depression and anxiety. A 2014 review of animal studies found CBD exhibited anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects in animal models discussed.
The benefit of CBD for mood disorders also is attributed to its impact on relieving pain and aiding sleep, both of which can contribute to changes in mood.
Reduces bone density loss: Menopause frequently leads to bone density loss, which can increase the risk of fractures. An animal-based 2008 study found that CBD interacts with a cannabinoid receptor associated with bone density loss suggesting that CBD may be able to reduce bone density loss during menopause.
While research continues, several studies already conducted suggest that CBD may help to alleviate the symptoms associated with menopause.