CBD And Women’s Health: Premenstrual To Perimenopause
By: Tara Monks Giltner
While cannabis has been used for some 4,000 years, scientific study on the plant has only recently begun. What has been discovered though, is the way in which cannabis works with the endocannabinoid system. What has also been illuminated is the ways in which the endocannabinoid system affects women’s health, and how CBD is enhancing and ensuring wellness. Studies have shown that estrogen levels enhance sensitivity to the compounds found in cannabis. In the same manner, female sensitivity to cannabis increases during ovulation. PMS symptoms like bloating, migraines, cramps, headaches, hot flashes and chills can all be alleviated through the use of CBD. Given the plant’s molecular similarities to estrogen, and the manner in which it interacts with the endocannabinoid system, CBD treats the source of hormonal imbalance symptoms rather than the symptoms.
CBD for Premenstrual Symptoms
CBD can be used to manage period pain, nausea and moodiness. When it comes to PMS, these symptoms are all related to uterus functions. The uterus has the highest concentration of the cannabinoid anandamide, which has the highly-descriptive pseudonym Bliss Molecule. When estrogen levels are low (before and during our periods) our happiness molecules are also in decline.
Women are treating low estrogen, low cannabinoid levels and the effects of such in a variety of ways. CBD tinctures, once ingested, help rebalance hormone and endocannabinoid levels, replenishing what’s low and finding homeostasis. CBD tinctures are a popular option, as they are easy to dose and administer. The tincture can be taken directly or added to teas, smoothies and foods. CBD balms and soaks are also high on the list of products women are using for PMS relief, among other issues and ailments. A topical is a great option for relief as the oil is pre-partnered with other soothing and healing plant and essential oils.
CBD for Postpartum Women
Did you know that Chinese tradition calls for zuo yue zi, or sitting the month, after giving birth? This practice dates back to the Han Dynasty, recognizing that the month directly after pregnancy is crucial to the future health of both mother and child. Post-pregnancy is painful, exhausting and depleted. Some 15 percent of all postpartum women in the US suffer from postpartum depression, which is approximately 950,000 women per year. This number is likely low, as it represents only self-reported symptoms. CBD is now being looked at as an option to mitigate the harsh effects postpartum life.
CBD helps the brain create more GABA, a neurotransmitter that calms the body, and allows it to more easily settle into its receptor. CBD also works with serotonin, a neurotransmitter known for its anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects, to help rebuild and stabilize levels. For these reasons, as well as its pain relieving qualities, non-psychoactive properties and low instances of side effects, CBD is becoming an increasingly popular option amongst postpartum women.
CBD for Menopause
Menopause is caused by the cessation of ovulation, menstruation and reproductive abilities. Symptoms associated with the hormonal change include mood swings, anxiety, hot flashes, insomnia and discomfort during sex. Similar to PMS, this is all linked to estrogen levels. We stop ovulating because our bodies are no longer producing the levels of estrogen we are used to. This decline also triggers a reduction in endocannabinoid signaling, resulting in those mood swings we’ve been mentioning. Similar to PMS, CBD can help increase endocannabinoid receptivity, helping stave off mood swings, stress, anxiety and depression. Further, the alleviation of physical and mental symptoms of menopause can combat insomnia. Many women are turning to CBD during these times, as the compound offers multiple sources of relief with minimal side effects.
CBD for Mental Wellness
When comparing men and women’s mental health, the statistics can be jarring. One in six women over the age of 65 develop Alzheimer’s (compared to 1 in 11 men). Women are also twice as likely than men to suffer anxiety, and anxiety-related issues. Further, women are two- to three-times more likely than their male counterparts to develop multiple sclerosis.
Multiple studies report cannabis as an effective treatment for nerve spasticity and improved cognitive function, making it neuroprotective. Neuroprotection refers to the preservation of the structure and function of neurons and brain tissue. Many diseases involve the breakdown of neurons in specific regions of the brain, or degradation of the chemicals these neurons use to signal one another. CBD reduces inflammation-caused damage to the brain and nervous system, and encourages the growth and development of new neurons.
Increasing evidence is showing that CBD may help prevent and limit the progression
of neurological disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, amotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and epilepsy.
It’s becoming increasingly evident that CBD offers a bouquet of medicinal benefits for women. As research continues to delve into the ways in which CBD works with our bodies, we will likely discover an even deeper well of ways in which we can benefit from the compound.