In our previous article, we have talked about what menopause is, its different symptoms, and its link to the endocannabinoid system. Because of the strong link between menopause and the endocannabinoid system, many women turn to cannabis for treatment.
Don’t get us wrong, though. Conventional and more accepted forms of treatment for the symptoms of menopause do exist.
Conventional treatments for menopause
To counter the hormone imbalance, there are some doctors who prescribe Hormone Replacement Therapy, wherein one takes estrogen and progesterone supplement.
However, recent studies have revealed that HRT does pose serious health risks. According to a 2002 study, HRT increases the risk of heart disease and breast cancer. Another study found that estrogen supplements increase one’s risk of stroke, dementia, and blood clot.
Because of these studies, there is a reduced number of women doing hormone replacements.
Some women also go the natural route. Some try to alleviate their symptoms by changing their diet. Some consume soy, flaxseed, chia seed, red clover, ginseng, wild yam, and skullcap, all of which contain phytoestrogens, or estrogens founds in plants. Some also take Vitamin E and exercise in order to cope.
How does cannabis help with the symptoms?
Because of the federal prohibition on cannabis, very little research has been done on the subject of cannabis and menopause. However, based on the limited information available about the effects of cannabis on certain symptoms, here is what we gathered:
There are no actual studies on how cannabis helps with hot flashes, but common knowledge states that the psychoactive compound in cannabis called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) lowers body temperature as it replaces the endocannabinoid anandamide.
One of anandamide’s functions is temperature regulation as it is a part of the body’s built-in thermostat.
Consuming THC alters this thermostat. Evidence gathered from anecdotal and animal models reveal that THC does have a cooling effect. There have been a few studies that suggest that THC lowers temperature in a dose-dependent way. This means that the more you consume THC, the cooler you feel.
Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can create a host of painful side effects like migraines, joint pain, bruising, breast tenderness, increased menstrual cramping, and intercourse discomfort.
Now, it is already common knowledge that cannabis is an effective pain management tool. This painkilling potential is not just limited to conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis. It works with menopause-related pain, too. The THC and CBD (cannabidiol) in cannabis both have pain-relief properties and they work best together.
Insomnia and sleeping problems
Difficulty sleeping goes hand-in-hand with hot flashes during menopause. Night sweats can make sleeping really hard. So the fact that cannabis helps lower body temperature, there are also strains that are relaxing and are great sleeping aids.
Estrogen goes together with endocannabinoids to stabilize one’s mood and emotional response. A drop in estrogen also means a drop in endocannabinoid levels, which can bring with it the blues and cause depression and anxiety. The good thing is that THC and CBD have been shown to mitigate feelings of anxiety and depression and help regulate one’s mood.
Estrogen also regulates cell regeneration in the bones. So a dramatic drop in estrogen may lead to post-menopausal osteoporosis. There have been studies that suggest that CBD and a bunch of other cannabinoids found in cannabis can help stimulate bone growth and prevent bone less.
Low sex drive
Decrease in libido and vaginal dryness is one frustrating side effect of menopause. Some women, however, find relief in cannabis. Studies have shown that cannabis use can improve sex drive. Read about it here.
Women gain 5 lbs, on average, during menopause. This is due to lifestyle and genetic factors, combined with changes in estrogen levels. And while cannabis is known to cause the munchies, there is also evidence that CBD and THCV help in regulating metabolism. CBD, in particular, encourages weight loss because it mildly suppresses the appetite.