CBD and Menopause
This week in Canada, it’s been reported that women are increasingly turning to Cannabis-based remedies to help treat symptoms of menopause. Funded by an operating grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), their study abstract was presented at The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, from September 22 to 25, 2021.
“What we wanted to do with our study was provide a snapshot within our population on if women are using cannabis, and how are they using it. Then we can move forward, fill that gap of knowledge and see if this is worth investigating more,” says Katherine Babyn, PharmD, a master's student on the faculty of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Alberta, and first author of the study abstract.
Like any natural hormonal transition, menopause can cause uncomfortable symptoms, including hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and mood shifts. Researchers have looked at many medical, hormonal and natural remedies for these symptoms, and they have arrived at mixed results.
Recently, there has been much interest in the possible benefits of CBD, and there is some research to suggest that it may relieve certain symptoms of menopause.
CBD works by interacting with the body’s internal endocannabinoid system, which is a collection of cell receptors, called cannabinoid receptors, in the brain, other organs, and tissues throughout the body. Cannabinoid receptors are involved in:
- mood regulation
- fertility and reproduction
- temperature regulation
All of these bodily systems are also impacted by the changes that happen during menopause.
At the moment, no studies have directly looked into the effects of CBD on people experiencing menopause. This means there is a distinct lack of research on how CBD interacts with the menopausal symptoms. However, there has been some research into how CBD can influence some of the symptoms commonly associated with menopause.
For example, a 2020 review concluded that CBD could help relieve chronic pain, improve sleep, and reduce inflammation. These effects should be beneficial to those going through menopause, however that specific intersection was not the subject of this review. Currently there are over 30 CBD Clinical Trails ongoing in Europe, we are hopeful that some of these are investigating women’s health issues including menopause.
The risk of depression and anxiety is higher around the time of menopause, this is because the fluctuation of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, can cause feelings of anxiety or depression. Alternatively, the life-disrupting symptoms of menopause could also be a reason for increased levels of depression and anxiety.
Studies in animals, including a 2014 review of the relevant research in mice, have found that CBD can reduce the effects of depression and anxiety. There was also a study in humans which showed that CBD reduced anxiety in people with public speaking tasks, however at the time of writing, there has only been very limited research in humans.
Many people report difficulty getting quality sleep during menopause, and this issue can have a significant impact on daily life.
According to the 2020 review mentioned above, endocannabinoids play a role in the sleep-wake cycle. This suggests that CBD can affect sleep. The researchers highlight the few, limited studies on CBD and sleep in humans. The results of these suggest that higher doses of CBD can have a sedating effect.
It is possible then, that CBD may help treat sleep disturbances relating to menopause — but further studies are still needed to prove this.
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression or are going through the uncomfortable side effects of menopause, please reach out to your doctor for advice.