Menopause is a hot topic right now. With 13 million menopausal women in the UK affected by a myriad of physical and psychological symptoms, increased discussion and awareness surrounding hormone imbalance means that the menopause taboo is finally – and rightfully – breaking down.
From hot flushes and mood swings to loss of libido and difficulty sleeping, menopause and perimenopause (the time leading up to menopause when the body begins its natural transition) symptoms can be debilitating for many women. If you’re experiencing encumbering menopause-related problems, chances are you’ve considered using Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or similar conventional treatments. Many women also explore the use of organic remedies to help alleviate menopausal symptoms.
A natural symptom management supplement that has risen in popularity in recent years is CBD. Cannabidiol-infused oils, gummies, topicals and lubricants are some of the products marketed toward women experiencing hormone imbalance. But how can CBD help? Does it work, and is the cannabis-derived compound legal in the UK? In this article, we’ll delve further into the potential effects of CBD on menopause and perimenopause symptoms.
What is CBD?
CBD (cannabidiol) is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in hemp plants. It is commonly extracted and used as an oil for its medicinal properties. CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it will not cause a high when consumed – unlike THC, another famous cannabis compound usually associated with marijuana.
CBD is frequently used to combat an array of physical and mental ailments including insomnia, anxiety symptoms, stress, joint pain, inflammation, dry skin and concentration issues.
How Does CBD Work?
Animals and humans have a complex messenger and receptor system as part of their physiology. This Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is integral to maintaining homeostasis, which is the natural balanced state of mind and body. The ECS regulates our vital functions, from sleep and metabolism to mood and pain perception.
The ECS is highly complex and plays a part in several biological systems including our circulatory, nervous and endocrine systems. Cannabinoids such as CBD are capable of closely interacting with receptors of the ECS to positively impact our physiological functions.
Is it Legal?
CBD is a legal cannabinoid in the UK, and CBD-infused products are legal providing they contain less than 0.2% THC. This ensures that the product will have no intoxicating effects.
Does CBD Oil Help Menopause Symptoms?
Clinical research on the effects of CBD on wellbeing, including menopause, is in the preliminary stages. Preclinical research and anecdotal evidence supports claims that CBD can significantly improve a variety of symptoms but further human studies are required for robust evidence.
To date, research and anecdotal evidence indicate that CBD can help improve the following perimenopausal/menopausal symptoms:
1. Brain Fog
Studies show that 7 out of 10 women suffer from brain fog during menopause. CBD can improve cognitive function. It may promote neurogenesis (the formation of new neurons within the brain) which contributes to normal brain function. It can also stimulate blood flow to the brain which can enhance memory. Additionally, CBD relaxes and calms the mind and body which provides the basis for improved focus and concentration.
Sleeping problems are common in the menopause and prolonged sleep deprivation has a significant impact on quality of life. CBD is well-regarded as a sleep aid, enabling relaxation and encouraging deeper, more restful sleep and an opportunity to wake up feeling revitalised. A CBD oil such as the deeply relaxing Night + CBD Oil can positively impact your sleep-wake cycle.
3. Anxiety, Depression and Mood Swings
CBD can reduce the effects of anxiety and depression, and possibly reduce the intensity of common mood swings during menopause. By communicating with the ECS, the imbalance of hormones responsible for frequent mood changes could be balanced by CBD, which also encourages feelings of relaxation. CBD may also boost serotonin which promotes feelings of contentment and happiness.
4. Joint Pain
CBD is an anti-inflammatory and is often used for pain relief. Joint pain, breast pain and headaches are commonly attributed to menopause, and over 60% of women aged 40-60 experience joint and muscle pain. CBD reduces inflammation and may alleviate pain linked to menopause.
A lower sex drive is a common complaint during menopause. While the evidence lacks robustness, early studies indicate that CBD may help to improve libido. One study found that cannabinoids may stimulate the part of the brain that regulates sexual arousal. Additionally, by reducing anxiety, CBD may help the desire for sex to increase.
6. Problem Skin
Menopausal women may experience skin flare-ups due to changes in chemical balance. CBD is a sebostatic substance (it controls skin oil production) which can help manage acne. Furthermore, CBD has hydrating properties and is an antioxidant, which means it can nourish, moisturise and protect the skin from damaging free radicals. If your complexion is bearing the brunt of your menopause symptoms, consider using a topical CBD-enriched moisturiser such as Hyaluronic Acid + CBD Facial Serum.
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7. Hormone Imbalance
During perimenopause and menopause, there can be considerable shifts in the levels of several hormones including oestrogen, testosterone, cortisol and prolactin. By interacting with the ECS, CBD can have a positive influence on the endocrine system to help regulate the imbalance of chemicals in the body and maintain homeostasis.
Suffering from bloating and cramps? The hormonal changes in the body can lead to digestive problems and inflammation during menopause. CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory which can potentially enhance digestion and alleviate bloating.
9. Bone Density
Bone mass begins to decrease after menopause and osteoporosis is a risk factor. It’s important to manage low bone density which significantly increases the risk of fractures. An animal-based study showed that CBD could reduce the rate of bone density loss. However, further human studies are required.
10. Hot Flushes
By balancing fluctuating hormones, CBD may reduce the intensity of hot flushes and night sweats. Another way in which CBD might take the edge off hot flushes is by reducing anxiety which is a contributing factor to those uncomfortable periods of warmth and sweating.
Does CBD Increase Oestrogen?
To date, there hasn’t been enough human-based research to definitively conclude that CBD increases oestrogen. CBD may indirectly influence oestrogen levels and potentially even help balance levels of excess oestrogen by inhibiting the enzyme that produces it. Consult with your GP before using CBD if you are seeking ways to increase oestrogen levels in the body.
Can I Use CBD If I’m On HRT?
There is no clinical evidence to indicate that CBD interferes with HRT and generally, CBD is a very safe substance to use and could enhance the effects of HRT. We would recommend, however, speaking to your doctor before starting CBD if you are already on HRT.
How Much CBD is Needed for Menopause?
If you’re using an oil such as Day + CBD Oil to assist in the management of menopause symptoms, drop half a pipette under the tongue in the morning and as required during the day. CBD is generally very well tolerated by most, but if trying it for the first time, you may wish to start with a small dose and increase gradually to monitor your tolerance.
Safety and Risks
There are very few side effects associated with CBD since the body tolerates this natural substance very well. However, some side effects are possible, such as nausea, drowsiness and diarrhoea. Starting small and building up your dose gradually should help the body adapt to CBD and minimise the risk of side effects.
There is a small risk of CBD interacting with prescription medications. Consult with your doctor if you are currently using medication and wish to try CBD.
For women, menopause is an inevitability. Symptoms can be debilitating but there is no reason that you have to suffer, thanks to hormone replacement therapy and natural alternatives such as CBD. While more research is necessary into the effects of CBD on menopause, preclinical studies and anecdotal reports suggest that the cannabinoid can improve a range of symptoms including brain fog, loss of sex drive, acne, sleeping problems and mood swings.