The British Menopause Society has reported a shortage of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). We examine the research to see if CBD could help women with individual symptoms associated with the menopause.
HRT, a treatment that helps with the symptoms of the menopause, can replace hormones which are at a lower level in the body as a woman approaches the menopause.
Symptoms of the menopause which are said to be helped by HRT include hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats and vaginal dryness.
The latest shortage of HRT in the UK has happened as a result of patch adhesive issues and increased demand. In recent months, COVID-19 restrictions have caused further problems.
Let’s learn more about the symptoms and see what the science says about the potential for CBD in this area.
Stress and anxiety
The menopause means hormonal changes including fluctuations in the level of cortisol, prolactin and oestrogen. The primary sex hormone in women, oestrogen is affected the worst by these changes.
The endocannabinoid system receptors may have effects on certain hormone levels, and while the jury is out on the ECS influencing sex hormones, we know it does help to regulate how we are feeling.
Oestrogen and progesterone affect the levels of serotonin, ‘the happy hormone’ which in turn influences our mood.
Let’s explore if CBD might offer any benefit to women going through the menopause.
A study on mice conducted in 2018 investigated if it could help with anti-depressant effects. The study involved the mice being bred to exhibit depression-like symptoms then forced to take a swim test. The mice who had been given CBD showed a potential for reduction in immobility which is a model for depression symptoms.
Related: How do I know if my CBD is working?
During perimenopause, the ovaries start to produce lower amounts of hormones. As these hormones decline, insomnia can be a side effect caused by the imbalance.
Insomnia makes it difficult to get to sleep and can make getting good quality sleep even harder. This means that once you eventually fall asleep, you may wake up repeatedly throughout the night.
Hot flushes associated with menopause can also make it difficult to get to sleep.
A study conducted in 2016 on participants suffering with sleep disturbances related to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) showed that it may help to reduce poor quality sleep, so it could be worth exploring further.
Menopausal women have been known to feel pain such as headaches, joint pain, inflammation and breast pain. All symptoms are commonly experienced throughout the menopause. There is also an increased risk of bone density loss and also developing arthritis at this stage of a woman’s life.
What role, if any, could CBD help in this area?
It is widely thought that the leading power of CBD lies in its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown CBD may help with reducing inflammation inside the body.
This inflammation occurs during menopause causing pain in the joints. In a study on mice, CBD was shown to be potentially anti-arthritic therefore possibly helping to protect joints against inflammatory damage. This, combined with light exercise could help joints stay healthy.
Research also points towards the importance of Endocannabinoids, which act as neurotransmitters, binding to cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system. Studies show that CBD may help to reduce joint pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity therefore potentially reducing inflammation.
Hot flushes are caused by altered neurochemistry in the hypothalamus which plays a big role in releasing hormones and regulating body temperature. Blood vessels dilate, causing overheating and sweating.
While there are no direct studies involving CBD for hot flushes, it is thought that because this symptom has a neurochemical basis, the influence of CBD on the body’s Endocannabinoid System, which regulates several bodily functions, may help to reduce them.