It is me or is suddenly everyone talking about the menopause? In my case, it’s probably because I and most of my female friends are all heading uncontrollably towards that dreaded half century. But even outside of my own personal hormonal echo chamber, the menopause is no longer talked about in hushed tones and increasingly women are looking for natural approaches to managing the often distressing symptoms that accompany this time of life. But what about CBD and the menopause?
Perimenopause - Not For The Faint Hearted
There you were happily going about your daily business with the same menstrual cycle you’ve had since being a teenager, when bam, your ovaries decide to stop producing as much oestrogen and all hell breaks loose. Suddenly your periods become irregular, a feeling of rage lurks ever present beneath the surface (or maybe that’s just me), your mood swings from life being just about bearable to feeling like it’s literally the end of the world, and then the hot flushes start.
This phase preceding the eventual cessation of menstruation is called the perimenopause and can begin any time from the late 40s and lasts on average about four years. Yes, that’s right - four years of being on an emotional and physical rollercoaster with highlights including a reduced libido, vaginal dryness, weight gain around the abdomen, and joint pain. Yay!
While some women seem to breeze symptom-free through the perimenopause, others have no choice but to try hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) to even out the sudden drops in oestrogen levels.
But HRT isn’t for everyone, and many of us are turning to more natural approaches including bioidentical HRT, herbs like black cohosh and evening primrose oil. But with CBD an ever more popular choice for female health, more women are wondering whether CBD could help manage menopause symptoms?
The Endocannabinoid System and Female Hormones
While right now, very little research has been conducted into CBD and the menopause, the compound's ability to support endocannabinoid function suggests it may have a positive role in making the perimenopause more tolerable.
The endocannabinoid system is the body’s master regulator keeping all our biological activity in balance. Comprising cannabis-like chemicals called endocannabinoids that bind with receptor sites across the body, it has been found to have a key role in regulating hormonal balance in women, particularly during their reproductive years.
Endocannabinoid receptors have been found in ovaries as well as the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary, which together make up the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and plays a critical part in the development and regulation of the reproductive and immune systems. The bliss endocannabinoid, anandamide and the enzyme that breaks it down (FAAH) have been found in tissues of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, oviducts, endometrium and myometrium. This suggests an “intricate crosstalk between the ECS and steroid hormone production and secretion”.
Interestingly, anandamide levels fluctuate during our ovulation cycle, with a surge happening just before ovulation, however excessively high levels of endocannabinoids can impair the ovulation process - showing just how delicate the balance is between our endocannabinoid system and reproductive health.
Again, little research has examined what happens to the ECS leading up to and during the menopause, although in the article ‘the endocannabinoid system and estrogen’ the authors state: “We should additionally recognize the inevitable and universal impact of menopause on the endocannabinoid system and its impact on women’s emotional regulation.”
But what has this got to do with CBD, you may ask.
CBD And The Menopause
Many of us take extra vitamins and minerals during the menopause in order to give our body the best chance of managing the internal changes taking place.
CBD, the non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis and hemp, is believed to support our overall wellbeing as well as our endocannabinoid system. Classified as a nutritional supplement, many people take CBD to maintain overall wellness, particularly at times when they are undergoing extra stress. And there's no getting away from the fact that stress levels do tend to rise during the menopause.
Choose Whole Plant CBD Oil
If you’re in the midst of midlife hormone hell, you’d probably try anything to get some relief. But when it comes to CBD, it’s important to remember that not all CBD oils are created equal.
Choosing an organic whole plant CBD oil containing not only CBD, but all the minor cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids is preferable over buying CBD oils made from CBD isolate. At Spirit of Hemp, we pride ourselves on our organic certified full spectrum CBD oils brought to you with love and care and made from hand harvested European hemp.