Ruby Deevoy UK's leading CBD Expert, Health Journalist and Medical Cannabis Advocat, shares her research into the effects of CBD during Menopause.
In the UK, right now, there are around 13 million menopausal and peri-menopausal women, going through one of the most monumental transformations of their lives. This is no mean feat and something which can present huge challenges and a wide range of symptoms.
For some, HRT is the answer. Others prefer to go the natural route, looking at indigenous plant medicines such as black cohosh, clary sage, Shatavari root, a ‘vatta-pitta’ Ayurvedic diet and cannabis for relief, and to aid the transition from summer to autumn in our lives. And, more recently, many women are reaching for CBD products to manage fluctuating hormones, hot flushes, sleepless nights, mood disturbances and pain.
But can CBD help with menopause symptoms? Anecdotally, many women say yes. So, is there any evidence to back that up?
Can CBD help with menopausal arthritis?
Did you know that women in menopause are at an increased risk of developing arthritis? And it can also make pre-existing arthritis worse. There appears to be a link between this condition and oestrogen deficiency, as well as general joint pain, but the actual mechanism remains unclear despite several studies investigating the issue.
Fortunately, although a dramatic drop in oestrogen is to be expected with menopause and is an essential part of the change, there are various supplements thought to ease the process. According to recent studies, CBD might be one of them.
A preclinical study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology has revealed that estrogen-deficient mice benefited tremendously from orally administered CBD. While only explored in an animal model, this shows promise for oestrogen-deficient humans!
As well as having lower levels of inflammation in the gut and bone tissues after taking it, their bloodstreams more readily disposed of glucose, they burned more energy, their bone density improved, and they ended up with higher levels of beneficial gut bacteria.
There have also been studies exploring the use of transdermal CBD (usually in a gel, balm or patch form), on swollen, arthritic joints, which have shown great results! One study found that transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling, limb posture scores as a rating of spontaneous pain, immune cell infiltration and thickening of the synovial membrane.
Interestingly, when prescribed cannabis for pain conditions, it’s usually THC that is needed. However, when it comes to arthritis and painful inflammatory issues, it’s CBD that’s standing out in the research.
Menopause and Endocannabinoid Deficiency
What is an endocannabinoid deficiency, you may ask? If you’ve never heard of endocannabinoids (or the endocannabinoid system) you’re not alone - despite being one of the major physiological systems in the body (some would even argue the most important one!) it’s still only just working its way onto medical school syllabuses, and you certainly won’t have learned about it at school. It was only discovered in the 90s.
However, now’s a good time to learn about it! The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters (endocannabinoids), present throughout your entire body: in every skin cell, joint, muscle, organ, brain, bone, in all other physiological systems and even in your mitochondrial cell walls! Its job (in a nutshell) is to keep every, single, bodily process and function in balance.
It’s a pretty big deal.
Your body produces endocannabinoids on demand, to activate the receptors and restore equilibrium whenever needed. However, endocannabinoids can become depleted and when this happens, just about anything can go awry. As it turns out, oestrogen deficiency (that occurs naturally during menopause) may go hand in hand with endocannabinoid deficiency.
Where does CBD come in? Well, the CBD molecule has a fascinating interaction with the ECS, inhibiting the enzyme which ordinarily breaks down endocannabinoids, resulting in higher levels of these essential neurotransmitters.
CBD for Menopause: Does CBD boost Serotonin?
Everyone talks about oestrogen when discussing menopause symptoms, but it’s important to remember that serotonin plays a vital role here too. This chemical also plummets during this time contributing to increased irritability, anxiety, sadness, hot flushes, and insomnia.
As well as interacting with the ECS, CBD also activates serotonin receptors, resulting in a release of the neurotransmitter. But CBD is just one of over 140 cannabinoids, and even more cannabidiolic acids (found in raw cannabis, or hemp plants) - and the precursor to CBD, CBDa, is actually 1000 times more potent on serotonin receptors! This is why people experiencing menopause may want to consider a full spectrum (or whole plant) CBD product, over a CBD isolate.
Can I use CBD with HRT?
A huge number of women use cannabis and CBD as their medicine for menopause. In fact, A brand new study found 86.1% of menopausal participants use cannabis, with 78.7% saying they endorse cannabis use to treat menopause symptoms. But are these plant medicines safe to use with HRT?
The answer, you’ll be pleased to read, is yes! Cannabis expert and prescribing doctor, Dr Dani Gordon, describes the combination of HRT and CBD (or medical cannabis) as “immensely helpful” for treating menopause symptoms, and explains that it is very safe. So have at it!
ELLE CBD Oil, Made for Menopause. Does it really work?
Of course, we can’t speak highly enough about using the Biogenic Elle CBD oil during menopause. This full spectrum product not only boasts all the cannabis plant has to offer but it’s also blended with expertly selected plant extracts like clary sage that have been relied upon by women going through this period of their lives for millennia. But what do consumers have to say?
We spoke to Tina Delaney, 56, from Shoreham by Sea, about her experience.
“My menopause symptoms had got to a point where I was struggling to get through the day. The hot flushes throughout the day were embarrassing, and upsetting. During the night they stopped me sleeping, so I never felt rested when I woke. My mood had also plummeted to the point I was considering anti-depressants and I had also started to experience uncomfortable joint pain in my knuckles. I’d tried CBD once before and not noticed much benefit, but when I saw that Elle had been specially formulated for menopause I was keen to give it a go.
I was advised to take the oil every day, 3 times a day, not just when I felt like I needed it. I was skeptical, but after a week I noticed a huge difference. The pain in my joints reduced dramatically, and my hot flushes stopped completely at night - I could finally sleep! Over the course of the month, I started to realise my mood was better too and the hot flushes were far less overall. I felt more stable, and that low feeling I’d been carrying around all the time lifted.
Taking this oil has made a big difference to my life, and so far I’ve not noticed any negative side effects either. I had been a bit nervous about trying CBD, and thought it might make me high! But it definitely doesn’t do that. It just makes me feel like the old me again.”
Written By Ruby Deevoy, CBD & Cannabis Journalist