Treating Menopause with Medical Cannabis

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Menopause, also known as the “change of life” generally occurs in adult women during the ages of 40-50. When menopause begins, the female body will start producing less of the hormone estrogen. During this phase, known as perimenopause, many women will begin to notice some changes in their body due to the change in hormonal balance. After about a year, the body stops producing estrogen altogether and as a result women can feel a range of unpleasant and unwanted symptoms such as weight gain, anxiety and depression, changes in their sleeping habits, and a decrease in sex drive. At this point, many women can use pharmaceutical medications in the form of hormone replacements in an attempt to address their biological changes. Lately, an increasing number of menopausal women are instead choosing to turn to medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, as a natural alternative to treat their symptoms with wonderful results. They are finding that by taking a safe and controlled dosage of medical cannabis, they are able to address any deficiencies in their own body’s endocannabinoid system and successfully treat their negative menopause symptoms.

Understanding the endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system is a biological system in the body which is composed of cannabinoids (neurotransmitters) and the cannabinoid receptors that they bind to. There are two known types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, which are found throughout the body and when stimulated aid in the regulation of vital body processes such as mood regulation, appetite, and the sensation of pain. When the body’s natural cannabinoids are deficient a person can experience a change in these processes. Many of the body’s cannabinoids can be found in women’s ovaries and are at their peak of activity when a woman is ovulating. As women undergoing menopause are no longer menstruating or ovulating, the lack of endocannabinoid activity can lead to the common side effects felt during menopause as described above. Also, a deficiency of the endocannabinoid system can lead to early onset menopause. Contrarily, an increase in endocannabinoid activation can lead to a halt of the symptoms of menopause.The cannabis plant contains an assortment of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD which interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors in the same way as the body’s own endogenous cannabinoids.  This explains why many women are turning to medicinal cannabis to address their cannabinoid deficiencies and addressing their menopausal symptoms. 

Weight gain during menopause

One of the more unwanted side effects of menopause, weight gain is an area that medical cannabis can help in. Sure, cannabis is often linked to the visual idea of someone eating high volumes of unhealthy food while watching television, but studies are actually showing that the responsible use of medical cannabis does not contribute to weight gain. In fact, one study in 2004 showed that cannabinoids may in fact lead to an increased sensitivity to insulin. By lowering insulin resistance, the body can become more efficient at using it’s glucose stores for energy and as a result store less body fat. These medical cannabis researchers also noted that cannabis use was associated with a lower body mass index (BMI) and a lower percentage of body fat mass. In yet another study published in The American Journal of Medicine, the research backed the findings of the previous study and stated that they found, “found that marijuana use was associated with lower levels of fasting insulin and HOMA-IR, and smaller waist circumference.” 

Cannabis and your sex drive

Unfortunately, many women cite a decrease in their sexual satisfaction as a result of menopause. They can experience a decrease in the body’s ability to self-lubricate as well as an increase in painful intercourse and a decrease in overall sensation. The good news is that medical cannabis can help in these areas as well. When used responsibly, and especially when used in the form of a topical oil applied to intimate areas, medical cannabis reduces pain by decreasing the levels of inflammation while simultaneously increasing the sensations of pleasure due to the increase of blood flow. Women undergoing menopause can often be dealing with feelings of anxiety and other mood-related symptoms which can leave them with tension and further exacerbate their lower libido. Fortunately, the cannabinoids THC and CBD  have been shown in multiple studies to be wonderful for relieving feelings of anxiety, helping women to fully relax and and once again enjoy feelings of intimacy to the fullest.

Menopause and Migraines

The migraines and headaches experienced by menopausal women can be overwhelming and draining. What’s worse is that the pharmaceutical medications used to treat them are often ineffective and do include an assortment of unwanted side effects such as fatigue, depression, weight gain, nausea, diarrhea, decreased libido, hair loss, dry mouth, difficulty concentrating, and in some cases addiction. Medical cannabis can be of great help here as well. It has been well established that one of the most encouraging properties of medical cannabis is its effectiveness in pain relief. The cannabinoids THC and CBD in particular are known to have analgesic properties which studies have shown to be more effective in treating pain than harsh pain relievers such as opiates. In addition to analgesic properties, medical cannabis can also help to manage the symptoms of migraines due to its  anti-emetic (prevents nausea and vomiting) and anti-inflammatory properties. By stimulating the endocannabinoid system, medical cannabis can also prevent migraines better than any prescribed medication.

The right dosage matters

When considering using medical cannabis for treating the symptoms of menopause, there are a few different factors to take into consideration. Just as no two women will experience menopause with the same exact symptoms, the medical cannabis treatment plan for each patient will also be unique. With a plethora of ways to use medical cannabis ranging from edibles to tinctures, concentrated oils, and vaporizers, it can be frustrating and overwhelming for women to navigate the available treatment options. The correct dosage, strain, and method of ingestion are important factors which need to be considered in addition to each patient’s unique medical history when considering a treatment plan. It is therefore advised that each woman consult with both their doctor and a reputable medical cannabis practitioner to ensure they receive the best medical advice for treating their symptoms of menopause.

Further reading:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.20973

https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(13)00200-3/fulltext

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29656267

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26749285

https://www.ean.org/amsterdam2017/fileadmin/user_upload/E-EAN_2017_-_Cannabinoids_in_migraine_-_FINAL.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29121334

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28349316

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cbdv.200790150

https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(16)30726-3/fulltext