CBD For Women’s Health & Wellness
CBD oil offers many potential health benefits to women. For one, research suggests that CBD oil could be useful for anxiety, pain, inflammation, insomnia, migraines, and many other everyday health problems.
More importantly, this non-intoxicating cannabinoid may also help with health issues unique to women, such as PMS, menstrual cramps, menopause, and the more general problem of hormone imbalance.
Here’s everything you need to know about using CBD to support women’s health and hormonal balance.
CBD and Women’s Health: The Endocannabinoid System
Most of CBD’s beneficial effects on women’s health and hormones work through the endocannabinoid system.
Discovered in the early 1990s, this important system helps our bodies maintain a healthy state of balance called homeostasis. Consequently, it regulates essential processes such as metabolism and appetite, digestion, mood and stress, sleep, immunity and inflammation, and pain.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids (cannabinoids made by our bodies), and enzymes that control endocannabinoid production and breakdown.
CBD has been shown to interact with this system in several ways. Most notably, it suppresses the enzyme that breaks down anandamide, one of the main endocannabinoids. As a result, our endocannabinoid levels increase, supporting the beneficial effects of the ECS.
CBD Oil For Hormone Imbalance
Hormones are messenger molecules that regulate metabolism, appetite, sexual function, growth, mood, sleep, and other essential processes. They’re produced by the endocrine system: a collection of glands found throughout the body.
Hormone imbalance is when you have too much or too little of a hormone circulating in your blood. Since hormones play a major role in body functions, even a small imbalance can have noticeable effects, contributing to everything from aching joints to depression and anxiety.
Hormone imbalance is more common in women than men because it can be caused by regular processes such as menstruation and perimenopause. In women, this imbalance is typically caused by swings in the levels of estrogen and progesterone — the primary female hormones.
Can CBD oil help balance these hormones? While there isn’t any research evidence showing that CBD can directly increase estrogen levels, research suggests that the endocannabinoid system regulates the endocrine system to maintain hormone balance.
For example, research shows that cannabinoid receptors are abundant throughout the endocrine system, such as the pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands, as well as the ovaries, which produce the women’s sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Additionally, cannabinoid receptors are present in the hypothalamus: the region of the brain that controls hormone release from the pituitary, the “master” endocrine gland. This suggests that the endocannabinoid system uses these receptors to regulate the production and release of hormones.
Also, some studies have shown that CBD can decrease the levels of cortisol: the body’s main stress hormone. Elevated cortisol is caused by persistent stress and has been associated with weight gain, anxiety, depression, and other health issues.
On the whole, the endocannabinoid system works to sustain a balanced level of hormones in the body, since too much or too little can have negative effects. As such, supporting the endocannabinoid system function with CBD oil and related preparations can help maintain this hormonal balance.
CBD and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a wide variety of symptoms experienced by many women in the days and weeks leading up to their period. These can include both physical symptoms, such as tender breasts, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and digestive discomfort, as well as mental ones, such as mood swings, anxiety, depression, and sleep issues.
PMS is largely caused by changes in the levels of estrogen and other female hormones, which naturally fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle.
Although CBD has not been studied in the treatment of PMS, there is plenty of research demonstrating that it may be able to help with many of its symptoms, namely pain, inflammation, anxiety, mood, and insomnia. For example, studies of CBD have reported:
- Reduction of pain and inflammation in rats
- Improvement of anxiety caused by social anxiety disorder
- Improvement of sleep and anxiety-related issues
- Antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects in mice
Menstrual pain is another common health issue experienced by most women. Similar to PMS, menstrual pain is related to the menstrual cycle and can include multiple symptoms aside from pain and cramping, such as nausea and headaches.
Historically, cannabis has been one of the most widely used natural remedies for menstrual cramps. There’s even evidence that Queen Victoria, who ruled the British Empire from 1837 to 1901, was prescribed cannabis by her doctor to ease menstrual discomfort.
As such, it’s not surprising that CBD oil can help as well. As the case with PMS, however, there are no studies looking directly at whether CBD can relieve dysmenorrhea — the scientific term for painful periods. However, there is research showing that it can help with its symptoms.
For example, in addition to the studies highlighted above, research shows that:
- CBD has antiemetic (nausea-relieving) properties
- Medical cannabis preparations (which contain CBD) can help with headaches
- CBD has antispasmodic effects that may help reduce the muscle cramps that play a central role in menstrual pain
More importantly, some studies report that CBD can reduce the production of prostaglandins, the inflammatory molecules that play a central role in menstrual cramps.
As the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone decline during menstruation, the level of prostaglandins peak, contributing to painful uterine contractions. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more severe menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding.
Perimenopause & Menopause
Menopause and the transitionary period beforehand called perimenopause are also caused by changes in women’s hormone levels and can lead to a wide variety of symptoms.
CBD oil can help with many of the issues related to menopause and perimenopause, including muscle and joint pain, depression, anxiety, headaches, and insomnia.
CBD may even help with osteoporosis, the bone condition women become increasingly susceptive to after their estrogen hormone levels decrease following menopause. Studies report that:
- Cannabinoid receptors play a protective role against age-related bone loss
- CBD may promote healing of bone fractures
- CBD can decrease bone resorption, the process which plays a central role in bone density loss and development of osteoporosis
CBD: The Holistic Approach
Cannabis has a long history of use in women’s health. According to a 2002 review paper by esteemed researcher Dr. Ethan Russo, cannabis has been successfully used for thousands of years to help with menstrual irregularity, painful and heavy periods, childbirth, morning sickness and related pregnancy issues, menopause symptoms, and even decreased sex drive.
Today, many women continue to support their health with cannabis by using non-psychoactive CBD oil and other CBD products. Although more clinical evidence is needed to substantiate these and other women’s health benefits of CBD, the current findings are promising.
CBD can provide a variety of benefits to women and is especially helpful for issues related to hormonal balance, such as PMS, menstrual cramps, and menopause since virtually all women have to face them at some point in their lives.
The great thing about CBD is not only that it’s natural and safe, but that it works holistically. Rather than just addressing specific symptoms, CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system helps bring your overall health in balance.