Since the dawn of time, pre-, peri- and post-menopausal women have had to endure a spectrum of hormonal shifts ranging from the irritating to the debilitating. Often these changes bring bouts of pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, mood swings and more. To quell their symptoms, women traditionally have relied on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), sleep aids and a good dose of tolerance.
While NSAIDs can be effective for decreasing symptoms aggravated by the prostaglandin — an inflammatory enzyme that increases when progesterone decreases during menses — frequent, high dose use is known to adversely affect the gastrointestinal system and potentially the liver. This is one reason why women are exploring non-traditional options.
Lately, women are increasingly reporting that CBD and THC products are their best alternative for treating menstrual pain. A 2019 study conducted by Dr. John Thiel at the University of Saskatchewan is showing support for this choice. Sixty percent of 134 patients who used medical cannabis to treat chronic pelvic pain, reported a positive effect.
Clinical Proof is on the Way
Although quantitatively speaking, this study was relatively small to make strong efficacy claims, the promise of more clinical research is on the way. In fact, cannabis manufacturer Foria is one such company. In partnership with Dr. Staci Gruber, the company is presently recruiting subjects for a new study to determine the potential impact of its CBD suppositories on menstrual pain and cramping.
Clinical evidence aside, Sespe Creek sales data would support the premise that some women need only their own anecdotal experience to be convinced that products like Foria Relief and CBD Alive CBD-rich suppositories provide relief. By administering treatment vaginally, patients can experience quick, localized relief and without processing the medicine through the liver or intestine. Transdermal patches and Muscle Freeze roll-on from Mary’s Medicinals are other products that also can be applied directly to pain-affected areas, such as the lower back and pelvic region.
Additionally, scientists have recently discovered that similar to NSAIDs, CBD also inhibits the prostaglandin-producing enzyme, providing the same anti-inflammatory benefits without the gastrointestinal side effects.
But what about women whose menstrual cycle has ceased and who are now approaching or are officially in menopause? Can cannabinoids provide them with symptom relief too? The answer literally lies within.
Healing your body within
Every effect that CBD and THC have on the human body is due to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Simplified, this network of neurotransmitters and cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) interact inside the brain, organs, connective tissue, glands, and immune cells to communicate on how to maintain systemic balance or homeostasis.
The ECS plays an essential role in many bodily functions associated with menopause, including mood and temperature regulation, immune functions, sleep, memory, and pain, but menopause can cause disruptions in the balance of this system. So when women use cannabis, the cannabinoids of the plant bind with the receptors found throughout the female reproductive system and help bring balance back into play.
So what products are women using to help treat menopause symptoms?
Bath soaks like Papa & Barkley Releaf Soak or Coda Signature Bath Bombs combine doses of THC, CBD, botanicals and essential oils to calm, relax and promote deep, restful sleep. Also, because sleep disturbance can be a chronic issue for menopausal women, CBD-rich tinctures, like R.E.M. from Rosette Wellness and sublinguals such as Shut Eye from Kinslips are good choices for fast-acting relief without psychoactive effects.
To calm nerves or anxiety, another common menopausal symptom, patients find high-CBD cannabinoid-based products effective as well as micro-doses of THC for a mildly euphoric release.
At present, there is limited quantifiable evidence to formally suggest that cannabis can allay symptoms of menopause for certain. That’s why future research in this area will be necessary to directly test theories. But one theory is that a poorly functioning endocannabinoid system can lead to several different health conditions. By manipulating the chemicals involved in the system, such as CBD, could potentially help to treat such conditions.