Woman do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the procreation of the human race. We endure menstruation, pregnancy, birthing and menopause. As a postmenopausal woman, myself, I went through 11 years of hot flashes and it was not a good time, I can tell you that. This article explains how the endocannabinoid system (ECS) affects a women’s reproductive system and how cannabis may alleviate many of the symptoms of menopause.
Cannabis impacts the female reproductive system by interacting with the hormone estrogen. The fluctuation in a woman’s estrogen level is responsible for all the changes that women experience at the end of their reproductive years.
- Perimenopause precedes the end of menstruation when estrogen production slows down
- Menopause lasts for 12 months after a women’s last menstrual cycle
- Postmenopause is the period after menopause finishes
The primary function of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis by regulating the following:
- Body temperature
- Function of the immune system
- Appetite and metabolism
- Reproductive cycles
Estrogen, which triggers ovulation and menstruation, begins to slow down for several years before menopause starts. Typically, women experience the symptoms of menopause for 1-2 years prior to the full onset. Estrogen levels peak during ovulation which stops at menopause. Estrogen and endocannabinoids have a direct link; when estrogen levels peak, so do your endocannabinoid levels. This explains why premenopausal women are most sensitive to THC directly before ovulation when estrogen is at its highest level. By the same token, when estrogen levels drop, so do your endocannabinoid levels.
So, what does this all mean? The little research that is available is based on animal subjects. These studies concluded that estrogen enlists the help of endocannabinoids to regulate emotional response and mood. When estrogen levels fall, this may contribute to menopause-related mood swings. Dr. Ethan Russo, who defined the term, Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome, (EDS) posits that EDS may lead to early menopause. Other researchers found that gene mutation in the ECS coding may increase the risk of obesity and metabolism problems in postmenopausal women.
Again, due to the paucity of human research because of federal cannabis prohibition, there is little scientific evidence on how cannabis can relieve menopausal symptoms. Here’s what we do know….
While there are no actual studies on hot flashes, it is known that THC lowers the body temperature. It does this by replacing anandamide, a neurotransmitter, which has many functions, including temperature regulation. Studies suggest it is quantity dependent. The more THC you ingest, the cooler you become. Be aware that too small a dose may increase your temperature!
Both THC and CBD are known to improve your mood. Low doses of THC have proven to act as an antidepressant. CBD is known to be an anxiolytic in its own right and can also help control anxiety produced by too much THC.
Estrogen regulates the process of replacing old, damaged cells with new, healthy ones. Postmenopausal women are very susceptible to bone weakness and diseases such as osteoporosis. Research indicates that an alteration in gene coding of cannabinoid receptors may contribute to osteoporosis. High CBD strains appear to be the most beneficial in supporting bone regeneneration.
Night sweats can wreak havoc on your ability to get a good night’s sleep. As we get older, the quality of our sleep decreases dramatically as we spend less time in deep sleep and more time in the lighter stages of our sleep cycle. Not only does THC reduce the body temperature, but it also increases the time spent in the restorative sleep cycle. A 2fer, so to speak! Choose an indica strain over a sativa for bedtime.
A slowing metabolism, genetics, a tendency to exercise less and the loss of estrogen contribute to weight gain for most women after menopause. While THC can surely give you the munchies, strains with THCV have been shown to suppress the appetite and aid in weight loss. CBD may also be very useful in controlling weight gain as a mild appetite suppressant and metabolism regulator. Both THCV and CBD improve insulin sensitivity, a vital mechanism in your body that determines how sensitive you are to insulin. They also reduce liver fat build up.
Vaginal dryness and loss of sex drive are 2 very common symptoms of menopause. Again, it has everything to do with the reduction of estrogen. Cannabis can help alleviate both those problems. It is a libido enhancer, particularly for women. You can make a wonderful THC-infused lubricant. Here is the link to the recipe. FYI, THC in high doses may have the opposite effect on your libido than the one you are looking for, so start with low doses and work your way up!
As we age, most of us experience, at the very least, muscle aches and pains. Many suffer from chronic pain caused by age-related, degenerative diseases. Both THC and CBD have pain-relieving properties, but work much more effectively when combined.
Hope this help, ladies. I will try and write something for the men!
BTW, here’s some outstanding news. NY Dem Senator Chuck Schumer has just introduced a bill to federally decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substance Act. This would allow federal cannabis research amongst other provisions. Here’s the link.
Source: Herb.com, Better With Age: Does Cannabis Ease Menopause Symptoms? Anna Wilcox, Sept 18, 2016
Herb.com, How To Make Your Own Cannabis Lubricant, Sera Jane Ghaly, Nov 19, 2015