How CBD Works In The Female Body
Let’s just come right out and say it—having a period is tough. Abdominal cramping and lower back pain may occur as estrogen levels drop sharply. Uncomfortable headaches or severe migraines, which cause extreme sensitivity to light and sound, can occur. The sleep cycle gets disrupted, metabolism and gastrointestinal function can be thrown off, and mood swings may become difficult to regulate.
Options for relief have historically included taking medicine or lying down with a hot water bottle on the stomach, in hopes that it'll be enough. For many people, though, it's not—yet there aren't many other options out there.
Within the CBD industry, the evidence of CBD’s ability to help manage so many different ailments of the body and mind without intoxicating effects makes it a promising option for enhancing women's health and wellness. CBD allows women to customize their serving size depending on which symptoms they want to treat, and to which degree—positioning CBD as the ultimate self-care tool for women wanting an alternative to prescription or over-the-counter medications.
WHAT IS CBD?
Before diving deeper into the effects of CBD for women’s health, let’s understand what CBD is first. Here are some facts that you should know:
- Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the 100 natural compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa plant that originates from Eastern Asia.
- Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive sensation that is usually associated with cannabis.
- CBD products, including CBD gummies, CBD isolate, and CBD topical products are natural treatments used to enhance one’s daily life.
- Unlike CBD isolate, which is pure CBD, a full spectrum CBD product contains cannabis plant extracts, oils, and other cannabinoids. It can also effectively support other severe medical conditions.¹
How CBD AFFECTS Menstruation Discomfort
Breast Tenderness & Abdominal Cramping
For female CBD users, one of the top benefits of consuming is that CBD can help with period discomfort, cramping, and tenderness. For hundreds of years, women have been using cannabis mixed with animal fats to create skin rubs that would help with PMS symptoms like soreness and swelling. Today, we know this works because we finally understand the relationship between CBD and inflammation along with the effects of CBD for sore muscles. CBD can help decrease the common symptom of inflammation and act as an analgesic that rivals the potency of aspirin, hydrocortisone, and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen.
Headaches & Migraines
The drop in estrogen before menstruation can lead to terrible headaches and migraines. Treatment of headaches as they occur typically includes a combination of pain relief meds (like ibuprofen or aspirin). However, continual use of these comes with warnings of possible liver or other GI damage. CBD has proven to be a promising (and natural) solution for headaches both before they occur and as they are happening.
Cannabis has been used since the 9th century to treat migraines, and recent studies in the last 50 years have suggested CBD can play a therapeutic role in treating both acute and chronic headaches. CBD topicals such as balms, lotions, and gels can provide targeted relief to a specific area on an as-needed basis—whereas CBD oil tincture and capsule products can be incorporated into one’s daily regimen for more systemic relief to target chronic pain.
How CBD Affects Sleep Issues
Many individuals suffer from "premenstrual insomnia” and struggle to attain restful sleep in the days leading up to, and during, their periods. Anxiety and depression can prevent the mind from getting good rest (or even falling asleep in the first place), and muscle pain can prevent the body from fully relaxing throughout the night. By promoting better sleep, CBD can help in a few different ways. Whether by having a relaxing effect on the mind, or by reducing pain symptoms of abdominal cramps, CBD can be an effective sleep aid in overcoming premenstrual insomnia.
How CBD Affects Emotional Regulation, Anxiety & Depression
CBD has also been shown to significantly reduce the amount of anxiety, discomfort, and cognitive impairment in both stressful situations and in individuals with a social anxiety disorder. This is supported by imaging studies demonstrating decreased levels of “stress activation” in the brain after CBD administration. While more research needs to be done, CBD may be able to help manage menopause symptoms like increased levels of stress and difficulty with emotional regulation that can occur due to a hormonal imbalance or shifts in the body.²
Differences In How Cannabis Is Metabolized In Women
About two weeks into a woman’s cycle, the body experiences a spike in estrogen that will soon trigger ovulation. Psychology professor Rebecca Craft from Washington State University showed that the peak in estrogen also leads to a spike in drug sensitivity right around the time of ovulation. Working with rats in her laboratory, Craft found that “females experience about a 25% increase in sensitivity to the pain-relieving effects of THC when their estrogen levels are rising and when their progesterone levels come up, then their sensitivity to THC drops back down and is at that point then pretty similar to males.”³
Increased sensitivity can mean many different things. Generally, it means female bodies experience more positive effects at a certain dose than what male bodies may experience at the same dose. While increased drug sensitivity around the time of ovulation may denote that the female body can establish a tolerance for CBD more quickly, these generalized findings simply describe the natural differences between different bodies and their metabolic processes. Every individual has a different tolerance and preference for the type of CBD experience they prefer.
As always, the most important consideration in choosing which CBD product and serving size will work best for you is to be more cognizant of what you may or may not be sensitive to. It is important to approach the changes in the body throughout the month in the same way that you would approach CBD use.
Just as you should be aware of the optimal CBD serving size that best suits your individual needs, you should also be mindful of your body’s patterns of sensation and feeling throughout your cycle. Taking a self-exploration approach paired with awareness will ensure you can find just the right CBD offering for your particular needs at any given time. At Lazarus Naturals, we want to help find the best CBD products for you!
¹Kubala, J. (2021, November 26). 6 benefits and uses of CBD Oil (plus side effects). Healthline. Retrieved August 2, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-oil-benefits
²Empowered Health. Ep. 4 : Women and Weed: Estrogen’s Impact on our Experience. https://empoweredhealthshow.com/2019/04/14/women-weed-marijuana-estrogen/
³Russo E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245–259. https://doi.org/10.2147/tcrm.s1928