Women suffer from a variety of sometimes life-debilitating issues. Often, prescription and over-the-counter drugs don’t seem to offer much help in alleviating symptoms or come with undesirable side effects.
Touted as a universal remedy, hemp-based CBD is available in the form of oils, tinctures, edibles, capsules, salves, and creams and can be found almost anywhere in North America.
There is compelling evidence from recent clinical research studies that support that cannabinoids like CBD can help with disorders like epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and PTSD, to name a few. But did you know that CBD may also provide relief from a number of women’s specific health issues? Read on as we learn about 5 benefits of using CBD for women’s health.
CBD In a Nutshell
CBD is an acronym for Cannabidiol, one of the hundreds of chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant. There is another chemical compound found in cannabis that you may be more familiar with, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychosomatic compound that makes a pudding cup taste like God’s gift to the culinary world.
The compound CBD is already naturally produced in your body and works with your endocannabinoid system or ECS, a highly specialized, signaling system that maintains balance and stability to the body.
The ECS dictates things like immunity, mood, sleep, pain, etc. and when there is an imbalance of CBD, disorders like insomnia, muscle inflammation, chronic pain, anxiety, and other disorders can develop.
There is a lot of research being conducted around the world to study how the ECS functions and how plant-based cannabinoids such as hemp-derived CBD can restore balance to the ECS.
Thus far, the results of these studies are promising, and CBD supplementation may provide much-needed relief for some of the most common health issues that plague women.
RELATED: What Is CBD? A Primer for Beginners?
PMS and Menstrual Cramps
Nothing throws a wrench in your routine harder than PMS. The majority of women suffer from some symptoms of PMS which can range from digestion problems, irritability and mood swings, headaches, acne, and sometimes debilitatingly painful cramps during their period.
Ibuprofen, Midol and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can offer some temporary relief but can also cause serious complications, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, tinnitus, headaches, liver and kidney problems, stroke and even death.
CBD can work similarly to those over-the-counter drugs, but without the damaging side effects. Like NSAIDs, CBD can relax the uterine muscles, thereby reducing painful menstrual cramps.
CBD may also alleviate other PMS symptoms, such as moodiness and irritability by restoring serotonin levels which are typically lower during PMS. CBD can also help with gas, bloating and other intestinal upsets by reducing gastrointestinal inflammation and by stimulating cells in the gastrointestinal lining.
Menopause and perimenopause (or pre-menopause) is no walk in the park. It’s the stuff that makes some women dread their late 40s and early 50s and drives air conditioning sales.
Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause include hot flashes and night sweats, insomnia, heart palpitations, moodiness, loss of libido, vaginal dryness and joint pain. These issues are usually a result of the loss of estrogen. Yet again, hormones are to blame.
Phytoestrogens found in CBD and other cannabinoids can help supplement the loss of estrogen that takes place during perimenopause and menopause and relieve some of the symptoms associated with growing wiser.
CBD may also increase energy during the day and improve sleep at night, regulating the sleep-wake-cycle and reducing the occurrence of insomnia.
Anandamide is a neurotransmitter found in cannabinoids which triggers the same receptors as THC. Anandamide, often referred to as the “bliss molecule” in certain circles, is responsible for the high feeling that THC is famous for. It also plays a role in many other bodily functions, such as regulating the body’s temperature. CBD maintains healthy anandamide levels, and by taking CBD combined with even a small dosage of THC, hot flashes can be greatly reduced. Not to mention saving yourself from the awkward explanation when someone catches you with your head in the freezer.
Another common disorder that curses women is endometriosis.
Endometriosis is when tissue that normally grows in the walls of the uterus or the endometrium, breaks off and grows elsewhere in the body. The broken tissue will eventually cause irritation of surrounding tissue, resulting in uterine scars, ovarian cysts, and even fuse the surrounding body tissue. An imbalance in the hormone estrogen has been linked as a possible cause to endometriosis.
Some women report minimal discomfort with endometriosis. But there are also many women who experience extreme pain, cysts, emotional afflictions, severe headaches, hair loss or excess hair growth in unfavorable areas, weight gain, abnormal periods, and acne.
There is currently no known cure for endometriosis. Endometriosis usually goes away at menopause, and in some cases, surgical removal of the endometrial tissue can relieve some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, many of those medications come with significant short and long-term side effects.
But there is a substantial number of women who have found CBD very effective in treating their symptoms of endometriosis because CBD directly affects hormone production, and since the ECS is all about utilizing CBD to maintaining balance, CBD can help stabilize those hormonal inconsistencies, as well as help with the pain.
Half a million women each year experience some form of depression brought on by the arrival of a new baby. Postpartum depression or PPD, and it’s milder, shorter-lived form dubbed as the “baby blues,” induce symptoms of anxiety, depression, overwhelming fatigue, loss of appetite, and disconnect from the baby at a time when bonding is crucial. Extreme cases of PPD can provoke hallucinations and cause the mother to have thoughts of harming the baby and other children.
CBD may help boost and balance serotonin levels in the brain, regulate energy levels, sleep patterns and restore a healthy appetite. CBD may also be incorporated into a treatment plan for PPD, alongside psychotherapy therapy, exercise, and medications.
Pharmaceutical prescriptions for PPD may take up to two weeks before any improvement is evident, but the positive effects and reduction in anxiety from a dose of CBD are almost immediate.
It is important to keep in mind that whatever supplements or medications the mother takes, it will pass through the breast milk. Many medications for PPD are not recommended for breastfeeding mothers, and the effects of CBD in newborns and infants are still not known. But a healthcare professional can help new mothers find the best possible solution.
*It is imperative that if you feel like you may have any symptoms of PPD or know someone who may be exhibiting symptoms, seek a medical professional immediately and before initiating any supplementation program.
Although mortality rates from breast cancer are declining, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women, affecting about one in 4 women worldwide. There are many types of breast cancer, including invasive (the most common), non-invasive, metastatic, and numerous sub-types of breast cancer.
Some of the most well-researched and abundant studies involving how cannabinoids such as CBD work in the body are those of which involve cancer and specifically, breast cancer.
There have been recent breakthroughs, notably, an Israeli study that suggests CBD can block and reverse the Id-1 gene, the gene responsible for the spreading and migration of cancerous cells in metastatic breast cancer.
Another study found that cannabinoids may result in not only a reduction of tumor size but also cause cell death in cancerous cells.
When cannabinoids such as CBD are used in conjunction with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, the brutal side-effects can be less severe and more manageable. Cannabinoids may also assist in cell regeneration and maintain the balance of healthy cells, restore energy levels and sleep balance and counteract feelings of nausea associated with chemotherapy.
Determining which cannabinoids are used in the treatment of cancer, CBD, THC, or a combination of both largely depends on which type of breast cancer the patient has been diagnosed with.
For instance, high amounts of THC can actually increase tumor growth in estrogen-positive breast cancer but reduce tumor size in other types of cancer. Again, it is important to note that many of these studies are not yet conclusive.
The Future of Women’s Wellness Embraces CBD
The ECS largely influences hormone production, and CBD can help the ECS keep all those different hormones in check. Because men and women produce certain hormones at different ratios and have differences in muscle mass and fat distribution, it’s easy to understand why cannabinoids affect men and women differently. Interestingly enough, the majority of CBD users are women.
There is still a lot of research that needs to be done, and steps toward regulation of safety and quality standards aren’t quite yet in place, so do your due diligence and have a conversation with your doctor to determine if CBD supplementation can help you be your healthiest and most fierce self.