Ahhh the delights of the menopause… Along with PMT, menstruation, childbirth (and all the rest!), women have a whole host of health issues to contend with during their lives. But even though these things happen to most women, there still seems to be a distinct lack of conversation about women’s health issues.
Particularly so the menopause.
This lack of narrative and education surrounding the menopause is mind-boggling when you consider that it will happen to half of the world at some point!
Women come to us looking for a natural way of relieving the symptoms associated with menopause and so we thought we’d open the discussion about exactly that.
It’s time to dig a little deeper and learn more about this dramatic time of change for women, and how (if at all) CBD can help the menopause, naturally.
Firstly, What is the Menopause?
Menopause is an inevitable rite of passage, the arrival of which varies from woman to woman, but it most commonly happens between the ages of 45-55. Sometimes menopause can occur early, sometimes as a result of surgery (hysterectomy) or as a result of damage to the ovaries (for instance with chemotherapy). Menopause occurs when the ovaries no longer release an egg each month and causes a huge drop in the female sex hormone oestrogen.
What is Oestrogen?
Oestrogen plays a huge part in regulating many systems in the body; it not only helps to control body temperature, but also helps to prevent memory loss and helps to protect nerves from damage. Not only this, but the wonder hormone oestrogen also helps to keep our bones strong and helps to support liver and heart function.
Like other hormones in the body, oestrogen acts as a chemical messenger that instructs cells to behave in a certain way. Oestrogen helps to modify the production of endorphins (the ‘happy hormone’) and during the time of egg release is often the time of the month when women feel happiest.
So you can imagine the chaos which can occur in a woman’s body when oestrogen dramatically drops as menopause begins! The onset of menopause can bring with it a whole host of symptoms, some more bearable than others.
What are the Symptoms of Menopause?
The menopause is often dubbed ‘the change’, and change your body most definitely does.
Whilst some women see the onset of menopause as a huge relief where they gleefully wave goodbye to monthly cramps, pregnancy worries and monthly mood swings, others can struggle with the onset of menopause symptoms. A survey reported that “84% of women say their symptoms interfere with their lives and 12 percent say they interfere “a great deal” or are debilitating”.
Even though both men and women can experience a loss of bone density as they get older, when menopause evokes a sudden reduction in oestrogen, some women find that it triggers an inflammatory reaction which creates a huge decrease in bone mass.
Some women even find that symptoms of the menopause leads to depression and anxiety as a result. The most common symptoms of menopause are:
- Hot flushes
- Vaginal dryness
- Low mood
- Night sweats
- Memory loss and cognitive dysfunction
- Joint aches and pains
- Sexual dysfunction
- Weight gain
Because it is something so seldom spoken about (although thankfully the discourse is gradually now changing), the menopause and its symptoms can hit women with an intensity that they aren’t expecting. Women don’t anticipate how all-encompassing the menopause can be, and how it alters how they feel not only physically, but emotionally too.
The Stages of Menopause
Menopause occurs in three main stages-
- Perimenopause This is the name of the initial menopause stage when the body begins to show subtle adaptations in response to the reduction in oestrogen levels and usually begins in the mid-late forties. Perimenopause lasts up to four years and women can experience all the symptoms of menopause on top of their montly periods still occurring.
- Menopause The menopause stage is categorised by the 12 months following a woman’s last period, the main indicator being that periods have stopped. A woman can experience any (or none) of the classic menopause symptoms, as listed above.
- Postmenopause This is the name given to the time after the menopausal symptoms end and the female enters a new homeostasis, typically lasting 4-5 years.
So the menopause in total last for around ten years until the body reaches a level of homeostasis and the hormones settle after the body’s reproductive system stops producing eggs.
Menopause and the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is known to modulate pain and neurodevelopment in the body, but what you perhaps don’t know is that it is also known to impact the female reproductive system. Research shows that oestrogen helps regulate the level of fatty acid hydrolase enzyme (or FAAH) present that break down certain endocannabinoids, meaning that when oestrogen levels peak, so do endocannabinoid levels and vice versa.
Preliminary research suggests early onset menopause may be linked to endocannabinoid deficiencies. This can also be achieved using Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), but there has (rightly or wrongly) been some kickback about using this method of treating menopausal symptoms in recent years and so women are searching for a more natural way to relieve menopausal symptoms.
Menopause and CBD
With 1 in 6 adults in the UK currently experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression, it’s no wonder so many are keen to explore the power of natural supplements like CBD to see if they can alleviate symptoms of anxiety, improve mental health and offer the freedom to go about their daily lives once more. The calming effect of CBD is the most commonly mentioned benefit by our customers, and many of these are women who use CBD to help symptoms of anxiety they experience at the hand of the menopause.
Phytoestrogen (plant-based compounds that mimics oestrogen in the body) can be found in the cannabis plant and, whilst CBD is not technically an HRT alternative, some users find that it can help ease some of the symptoms of menopause, such as anxiety and reduced quality of sleep.
One study in patients with anxiety or sleep problems used a low dose of 25 mg/day (well within the acceptable maximum daily dosage advised of 70mg) and although a minority of subjects did experience a worsening of their symptoms, the majority of subjects (80%) had a reduction of their anxiety and more than 55% of people reported improved sleep. This is very beneficial information to women experiencing the menopause as they can regain control of their slumber and feel a little more like themselves in the morning.
Our own scientific advisor Dr Heal says that “CBD has shown therapeutic potential in reducing neuropathic pain and inflammatory pain” so this indicates perhaps why some women who suffer pain and inflammation due to menopausal symptoms look to natural botanicals such as CBD.
The Bottom Line
We are entering a new era – a future filled with enormous potential for botanicals and natural supplements to help humans find the answers to the wellness and healthful lives they crave.
Armed with a solid knowledge base about the endocannabinoid system and its potentially complex role in the emotional, reproductive and overall health of women, we can hopefully equip women at all stages of menopause with the information they require to take charge of their own health and wellbeing, using the power of nature.
If you would like to try CBD as a remedy to menopausal symptoms, please get in touch and let us equip you with the honest and open information you require to make a solid judgement on your own health and wellbeing. Being a woman means that you have the power!
On behalf of all the women out there who deserve answers, we urge more research to be done on CBD in menopause.