Exploring the Science Behind CBD and Menopause
Read Time: 6 mintues
Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 and is characterized by several physical and emotional symptoms, including hot flashes, mood changes, and sleep disturbances. While menopause is a natural process, the symptoms can drastically affect a woman's quality of life. So if you're dealing with the symptoms of menopause, you might wonder whether CBD might help you combat some of its negative effects. In this blog, we will explore the current scientific research on using CBD to manage the negative effects of menopause.
What are the Side Effects of Menopause?
Menopause is a natural decline in the production of estrogen and progesterone hormones, which play a vital role in regulating the menstrual cycle and maintaining the health of the reproductive system. Typically it happens later in a woman's life and often comes with a few rough side effects.¹ Some of the common side effects of menopause include:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Sleep disturbances and insomnia
- Mood changes, including irritability, anxiety, and depression
- Decreased libido or sex drive
- Memory problems and difficulty concentrating
- Urinary incontinence and increased frequency of urination
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Headaches and migraines
- Changes in skin and hair, such as dryness, thinning, and loss of elasticity.
While not all women will experience every side effect of menopause, hormonal changes play a significant role in your mood and wellness. As the ovaries decrease estrogen and progesterone levels during menopause, many women experience physical and emotional symptoms as well as impact mood and cognitive function, leading to irritability, anxiety, and memory problems.
In addition to hormonal changes, menopause can also be affected by other factors, such as genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors. For example, women who smoke or have a history of certain health conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid disease, may be more likely to experience more severe menopause symptoms.²⁻⁴
Not all women will experience all these symptoms, and the severity and duration of symptoms can vary from person to person. However, menopause might increase the risk of certain health conditions, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive decline. It's essential for women to talk to their doctor about any symptoms they are experiencing to develop a personalized plan for managing their menopause transition.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the hemp plant. Unlike THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, CBD doesn't make you feel high. CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, or ECS, which is responsible for maintaining balance and homeostasis in the body.⁵
The ECS is a complex network of receptors and enzymes responsible for regulating various physiological processes, including mood, body temperature, appetite, sleep, and immune function. More importantly, some evidence suggests that your ECS also plays a role in regulating the production and release of hormones, including the hormones necessary for sleeping and waking, fight or flight responses, and more.⁶
CBD corresponds with the endocannabinoid system by interacting with receptors and modulating their activity. Research suggests this interaction may offer anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiety-reducing effects. More or less, CBD works with your ECS to help it find balance and keep you homeostatic.
Can CBD help with Menopause?
Before diving into the research, it's important to remember that scientific studies exploring the connection between CBD and menopause are minimal. While some evidence suggests that CBD may help with some of the side effects of menopause, it won't make your menopause symptoms disappear altogether. You should always work closely with your doctor to find a solution that works for you.
Currently, no human studies directly explore the relationship between CBD and menopause or CBD for hormones like progesterone or estrogen. One study in mice found that CBD might improve menopausal symptoms in mice with estrogen deficiencies.⁷ With that in mind, research is limited, and this study can’t be applied to humans. However, some studies suggest that CBD might help with a few things that might get thrown out of whack when you start experiencing menopause symptoms.
Hot Flashes and Inflammation
For example, hot flashes are caused when estrogen levels are low.⁸ Estrogen plays a role in regulating body temperature. As estrogen levels decrease during menopause, the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls body temperature) can become more sensitive to slight changes in temperature. This sensitivity can cause the body to overreact to small temperature changes, leading to sudden feelings of heat and sweating, commonly referred to as hot flashes.
The ECS works to regulate body temperature, the release of hormones, and inflammatory responses. Evidence suggests that CBD may reduce inflammation, which may help with other side effects like headaches and joint pain associated with menopause.⁹
However, it may also help provide a baseline for your ECS. One study found that CBD may have reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women.¹⁰ While CBD won't stop hot flashes from happening, it might help to balance out the systems responsible for hot flashes.
Another downside of menopause is sleep disturbances due to significant hormonal changes that can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle. Common symptoms of menopause like hot flashes or increased feelings of stress or anxiety, can manifest into additional symptoms like night sweats and insomnia.¹¹
As estrogen levels decrease, it can affect the production of the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep. Additionally, reduced estrogen levels can lead to night sweats and hot flashes, which can cause discomfort and wakefulness.
Hot flashes and night sweats can result in waking up frequently during the night, leading to poor sleep and daytime fatigue. Women may also experience mood changes, anxiety, and depression during menopause, contributing to sleep disturbances.¹² Sleep may also be interrupted by inflammation or other aches and pains like headaches commonly associated with menopause.
One study found that CBD may have effectively reduced anxiety and improved sleep in individuals with insomnia.¹³ CBD's potential anti-inflammatory effects may also help minimize nighttime discomfort, making falling and staying asleep easier.
Anxiety and Mood
Many menopausal women experience mood changes. As estrogen levels decrease, it can affect the production and availability of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood and emotions.¹⁴
Menopause can also be a time of significant life changes and transitions, which can be stressful and may contribute to depression or anxiety. Tumultuous life events, such as caring for aging parents or experiencing changes in work or family roles, may also exacerbate mood changes during menopause.
Some evidence suggests that CBD may also have a positive effect on mood. Some studies have found that CBD may reduce feelings of anxiety in people with anxiety disorders.¹⁵ Another study found that CBD may have an antidepressant effect in animal models, though this hasn't been tested on humans.¹⁶ A balanced, stress-free mood may make navigating this turbulent point in a woman's life feel a bit easier to navigate.
Overall, the side effects of menopause are a natural part of the aging process and are caused by the hormonal changes that occur during this time. However, several options for managing these symptoms include hormone therapy, lifestyle changes, and alternative therapies like acupuncture and meditation.¹⁷ While CBD won't stop the side effects of menopause, it might be able to help support balance within your body and mind.
While the current scientific research is promising, more studies are needed to fully understand CBD's potential benefits and risks during menopause. As always, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using CBD to manage menopause symptoms, especially if you are taking medication or have any underlying health conditions.
If you're looking for a little balance while going through this drastic transition, you can count on Lazarus Naturals. Our range of high-potency CBD products may support mind and body wellness during the transition through menopause, which might improve your quality of life, allowing you to feel your best.