Mood swings, lack of sexual interest, bone density loss, anxiety, and insomnia – could cannabis oil be a medicine for all of these?
Jokes about the winding down of a woman’s reproductive life abound. People rarely discuss it, and scientific research barely touches it. But, precisely fifty percent of the global population will experience it. The reality is that menopause isn’t funny for women. It’s uncomfortable, confusing, and frustrating. This massive hormonal shift can have unwanted side effects, including muscle loss and weight gain, bone deterioration, decreased sex drive, loss of concentration, urinary incontinence, slowed metabolism, insomnia, night sweats, and sexual discomfort. Because of these challenges, many women are already investigating the potential of combining menopause and cannabis oil.
Why? Because they want solutions, and few people talk about this mid-life shift. But does it have to be so dreadful?
Not necessarily. Research is gradually showing that cannabis may reduce many of the symptoms associated with menopause. And as access gets easier and research goes deeper, the connection between menopause and cannabis oil gets much more interesting.
Menopause, Endocannabinoids, and Estrogen
The endocannabinoid system has receptors that can be activated by cannabis, called endocannabinoid signaling. Scientists have linked endocannabinoid signaling to estrogen levels; as estrogen levels decrease during menopause, it reduces signaling. Triggering endocannabinoid receptors with cannabis, then, may help treat symptoms related to menopause.
Using an animal model, researchers tested the connection between estrogen levels and the endocannabinoid system in a series of 2007 experiments. The results, published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, determined that when researchers administer estrogen, it delivers “anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects” through an endocannabinoid mechanism of action. Which means that the endocannabinoid system may have a pivotal role to play in emotional regulation as a response to hormonal changes in women experiencing menopause. 1)Hill, M. N., Karacabeyli, E. S., & Gorzalka, B. B. (2007). Estrogen recruits the endocannabinoid system to modulate emotionality. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 32(4), 350–357. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2007.02.003
The endocannabinoid system is, therefore, a new target for therapies reducing the severity of menopause. And as an endocannabinoid modulator, could cannabis oil be the answer for menopause patients?
First, Why Cannabis Oil And Menopause?
There are dozens of types of administration for (ways to take) cannabis. Cannabis oil and menopause might go together the best though – simply because cannabis oil is one of the easiest ways to take cannabis. It doesn’t involve smoking or inhaling vapor, or the fuss of making or procuring cannabis edibles.
Why Might Cannabis Oil Bring Menopause Relief?
As mentioned, there are a variety of ways cannabis might work for a menopause patient. The most common benefit is mood regulation. One of the most popular menopause “jokes” focuses on mood swings (again, nobody said that joke was funny). With cannabis, women may be able to reduce the anxiety and irritability that often associates with shifts in hormone levels.
As per RYAH Data, mood swings are one of the top ten reasons female medical cannabis patients rely on the plant. Many of the other top reasons are also some of the main signs and symptoms of menopause: anxiety, depression, stress, migraines, pain, and insomnia.
Unfortunately, menopause and cannabis oil research have faced two historical challenges. Until recently, it was nearly impossible to get any real-scientific study done on the therapeutic value of cannabis. Although this is slowly changing, it’s still a bit of a bureaucratic nightmare. Secondly, and perhaps more crucially, medical research has always had a strong bias against women. According to an article by the Guardian, that means excluding women from clinical trials, misconceptions of female medical conditions, and more financial backing for studies on predominantly male medical conditions.
Taken together, this means there just hasn’t been the financial incentive, political will, nor social acceptance to look at menopause and cannabis oil. While many studies are looking at specific symptoms individually (anxiety, inflammation, etc.), few actually dive into cannabis and menopause.
Assumptions Women Can Take from the Current Research
Until well-controlled clinical studies come to fruition, women are left to draw assumptions from related but not menopause-specific research. So what are these assumptions?
Firstly, according to some research, cannabis improves libido. Several case studies, animal studies, and patient surveys report that cannabis can enhance a woman’s sex drive. As per patient reports, it makes orgasms better, the experience more satisfying, and boosts general libido.
Secondly, cannabis (especially THC-rich strains) can have a sedative effect. For women struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep during menopause, cannabis might be the answer. Recent research has dived into the gender differences of cannabis. This data determined that women are more susceptible to the sedative effects of cannabis than men—another argument to try cannabis for menopause induced insomnia.
Pain-related to menopause comes from a reduction in estrogen, which triggers inflammation in bones and joints. Called menopause arthritis, or osteoarthritis, it’s an extremely painful symptom for some women over the age of forty-five.
Many cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, are established anti-inflammatories. Plus, new research out of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research has found evidence supporting further research into cannabinoids for arthritis. The authors concluded both joints and osteoarthritic tissues. “Express a wide range of cannabinoid receptors even in degenerate tissues, demonstrating that these cells could respond to cannabinoids. “Even national charity organizations like the Arthritis Society of Canada support it for the treatment of the disease.2)Dunn, S. L., Wilkinson, J. M., Crawford, A., Bunning, R. A. D., & Le Maitre, C. L. (2016). Expression of Cannabinoid Receptors in Human Osteoarthritic Cartilage: Implications for Future Therapies. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 1(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2015.0001
How to Consume Cannabis for Menopause
Beyond the hot flashes, many symptoms of menopause are technically classified as chronic. That means long-lasting, with daily repercussions. Therefore, women going through menopause may benefit from long-lasting cannabis products.
Edibles provide the longest-lasting relief out of all the other methods of administration. One small-to-medium-sized edible can deliver therapeutic impact for upwards of eight hours. Consequently, to avoid overdoing it with an edible THC experience, always start low and go slowly. Do not go back for seconds until you’ve waited at least two to three hours after the first dose. A starter dose is about five milligrams of THC.
Need quick relief? Absorption methods like vaping or smoking take only five to ten minutes to come on. If smoking or vaping cannabis isn’t comfortable, patients can also work with tinctures and oils for sublingual absorption. These products come on quickly but without the need to inhale.
Microdose Throughout the Day to Avoid the “High”
Not everyone is comfortable with the associated intoxication from THC-rich products. There is a solution for menopause and cannabis oil, that doesn’t lead to a noticeable “high.” Consequently, microdosing offers the health benefits of cannabis without causing the psychoactive effects. It relies on frequent tiny doses, usually under five milligrams of THC.
Microdosing takes a bit of practice to find the balance, a process called self-titration. Learning the right dose size, the right frequency, and the right strain may take a bit of trial and error. But, as many women will tell you, it is well worth the work.
The research world has a lot of catching up to do with menopause and cannabis oil. Many women are already fully on board with this plant-based medicine to reduce mood swings, insomnia, changes in libido, pain, and migraines associated with the many stages of menopause. Nobody should suffer the challenges of menopause in silence. Cannabis can help.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Hill, M. N., Karacabeyli, E. S., & Gorzalka, B. B. (2007). Estrogen recruits the endocannabinoid system to modulate emotionality. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 32(4), 350–357. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2007.02.003|
|2.||↑||Dunn, S. L., Wilkinson, J. M., Crawford, A., Bunning, R. A. D., & Le Maitre, C. L. (2016). Expression of Cannabinoid Receptors in Human Osteoarthritic Cartilage: Implications for Future Therapies. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 1(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2015.0001|