How Can CBD Help Menopause?
Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is hormone therapy prescribed to millions of menopausal and postmenopausal women to control symptoms of menopause including hot flashes and bone loss. Cannabis is an optimal alternative for women who can not take ERT due to history of breast or ovarian cancer, heart disease, or lack of health insurance. ERT is associated with increased risk for heart attack, blood clots, gallstones, stroke, breast cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease, which makes the benefits of ERT not worth the risk for most women. Instead of taking ERT, look into taking alternative phytoestrogens, like increasing soy in your diet and taking red clover supplements. As an added bonus, phytoestrogens also boost endocannabinoid levels.
Bone loss is one of the major reasons doctors prescribe ERT, but it is clear cannabis treatment can be an alternative for stopping bone loss and treating menopausal symptoms. Cannabis, specifically the cannabinoids cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidiol (CBD), (CBC) and THCV, stimulate bone growth and may be able to prevent osteoperosis after menopause. A synthetic drug that activates CB2 receptors prevented bone loss after surgical menopause, suggesting women that undergo surgical menopause should use cannabis.
Menopausal women don’t have to choose between ERT and cannabis. If you believe ERT has some value, but are worried about the risk of breast cancer associated with it, you can use cannabis or CBD to reduce your breast cancer risk while you use ERT. THC and most of the major cannabinoids do not interact with the estrogen receptor, but CBD does at high doses. Also apigenin, a flavinoid found in cannabis, binds the estrogen receptor strongly and can inhibit growth of breast cancer cells. CBD has been shown to to kill breast cancer cells independent of its activity on cannabinoid receptors, and avoids killing healthy breast tissue. This means if you take CBD while using ERT, CBD may kill any breast cancer cells that start dividing before they grow into a tumor.
Women that cannot use ERT due to breast cancer risk or other medical problems are often prescribed non-hormonal prescription drugs, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Effexor and Prozac or Gabapentin (neurontin), a drug primarily used to treat seizures. Cannabis can be subsituted for any of these drugs to successfully treat symptoms while reducing numerous unwanted side effects of these prescription drugs, including weight gain, gastrointestinal distress and sexual dysfunction. Cannabis can boost serotonin signaling and lower body temperature, which can reduce hot flashes and anxiety found in menopause.
Total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels increase during menopause, which boost risk of heart disease. Cannabis use is associated with higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, which can balance out the increase in “bad” cholesterol found in meonpause. Cannabis can also lower insulin levels, which prevents the development of type 2 diabetes.
Menopause can also cause an increase in facial hair. Topical creams containing cannabis or THC have been shown to slow the growth of hair, and may be appropriate to use in conjuction with hair removal techniques such as waxing or depilatories. Cannabis topicals may also reduce skin dryness because they promote oil production in the skin.
One of the most overlooked aspects of female health is healthy and enjoyable sex. Menopause can lower sex drive and cause pain during sex. The doctor’s answer to this is either ERT or a topical estrogen cream (Estrace) to apply to the vagina, which carries the same risks of ERT with the added risk of cancer of the uterus and dementia. Who wants that? Cannabis can help boost sex drive, reduce pain during sex and enhance orgasms, and can be smoked, eaten, or applied topically depending on your needs.
Cannabis use may interfere with ovulation in some women, and long-term use may delay menopause in a similar way to hormone birth control does by preventing depletion of healthy eggs. Genetic studies in the future may reveal what women have their fertility negatively impacted by cannabis use.