Menopause is a time of change in the life of any woman. For some, it’s a fairly smooth process, but for others, it manifests in weight gain, mood swings, and hot flashes. Because menopause is a natural stage of life, many women don’t want to take synthetic drugs to deal with their menopausal symptoms. Instead, they prefer to seek solutions in natural medicine, such as herbal supplements, acupuncture and breathing exercises. If you’re part of that group, then CBD is another option to consider. In this article, we’ll go over what menopause does to your body and how CBD can help.
What happens during menopause?
All women are born with a certain number of eggs that their ovaries can produce. From puberty onwards, they release one egg per month on average. Around the age of 45 to 55, the egg supply runs out. This is when menopause takes place.
During that time, women stop menstruating. This may take a few years of periods becoming increasingly irregular. But this is far from being the most noticeable symptom of menopause. Often, women will experience hot flashes and night sweats which let them know they are entering the menopausal phase. They may also suffer from:
- Weight gain
- Dry skin and dry eyes
- Vaginal dryness
- Hair loss
- Hair growth or hirsutism
- Mood swings
- Depression and anxiety
- Brain fog
- Reduced sex drive
Menopausal symptoms are a bit different in every woman. This is because they come from rapidly fluctuating hormone levels. And as many women are already aware, our hormone levels have a massive impact on the way that we feel in our body and mind.
How long does menopause last?
Menopause is not a clear-cut period. For most women, menopause symptoms like those described above start to show up around 4 to 5 years before their last period. This is known as perimenopause.
Strictly speaking, menopause is the first 12 consecutive months of your adult life when you don’t have any menstruation. But this length of time is not very meaningful.
For most women, menopause symptoms become evident years ahead of their actual menopause, and they may keep on going for years afterward until hormone levels stabilize.
This makes the whole menopausal period around 7 to 8 years long on average.
What are the first signs of menopause?
The first sign of menopause is missing a couple of periods here and there, or noticing your periods becoming less frequent. If you have a regular menstrual cycle and keep track of it, it’s a warning sign that’s very easy to notice. For other women who already have irregular periods, it may be more difficult to notice.
But the other most common first sign of menopause would be difficult to miss: night sweats, flushing, and/or hot flashes. These happen because your hormones are responsible for controlling your body temperature. When your hormone levels start changing rapidly, you’ll experience feelings of being too hot frequently, until the levels stabilize again.
What can help with menopausal symptoms?
Menopause is a normal stage of life, and many doctors will advise you to just wait it out. But if symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness or mood changes are causing you a lot of trouble, there are some things you can do to make them better.
For example, topical medicines can help you prevent and treat hair loss or hair growth. They can also be used to help rehydrate your skin, particularly if you suffer from vaginal dryness.
If your symptoms are really getting in the way of your life, then you may also consider taking hormonal supplements, which can help with hot flashes and other similar symptoms.
Finally, psychiatric drugs like SSRIs and sleeping pills may help you deal with the psychological symptoms of menopause, including depression, anxiety and insomnia.
But as with most other hormonal issues, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is often the most important thing you can do.
During menopause, your hormonal changes may cause you to gain weight. This can be upsetting and also create a number of complications in the future. At this stage of your life, it’s important that you start reducing your portions. Postmenopausal women don’t need nearly as many calories as women of reproductive age, and eating less is a simple way to feel lighter and more energetic.
Try to include a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet, as well as plenty of sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to balance out your hormones. Phytoestrogens like soy, flaxseeds and wheat germ can also help bring your estrogen levels back up.
Supplementing with vitamin E, vitamin D and calcium can also help to manage some of your symptoms. For example, they help with balancing your mood, hydrating your skin and maintaining healthy bones.
Can CBD help you during menopause?
Yes, women who suffer from painful menopausal symptoms can gain a lot of benefits from CBD. Without necessarily balancing your hormone levels, CBD can provide relief from symptoms like:
- Hot flashes
- Weight gain
- Depression and mood changes
CBD is legal on a federal level in the United States, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. However, it is still prohibited by certain state laws and doesn’t have FDA approval. We encourage you to consult a physician before you start taking CBD.
In the second part of this article, we go over how CBD helps with each of these symptoms. But first, it’s important to understand how CBD affects the body,
What is CBD and how does it work?
CBD is a molecule also known as cannabidiol. It is found in the cannabis plant alongside dozens of other cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are molecular compounds that play a very important role in our bodies. They transmit messages and form part of the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is a biological system that can regulate things like mood, appetite, pain and inflammation in the body. When the endocannabinoid system is functioning correctly, it keeps us feeling healthy and energetic. But when something goes wrong, it can cause a lot of painful symptoms.
Our endocannabinoid system can be influenced by two things: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are cannabinoid compounds that our bodies naturally produce. Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoid compounds produced by plants (for example, CBD is a phytocannabinoid).
When we consume CBD, it binds with receptors CB1 and CB2 of the endocannabinoid system. As a result, it gives a boost to the whole system, which results in lesser pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, blood pressure… the list goes on!
Many of the benefits of CBD can be very useful for women who are going through menopause. Here’s how it affects five different symptoms of menopause.
CBD and menopause symptoms
Hot flashes are some of the most annoying symptoms of menopause, and some of the most common. Up to three-quarters of all menopausal women experience them regularly.
The solution? There’s a couple of things you can to do prevent them naturally. For example, lowering the temperature in your bedroom at night, using a fan and wearing light clothes. You may also want to avoid certain triggers like coffee, cigarettes and spicy foods.
CBD can also help with hot flashes because it has a direct effect on your brain chemistry. Studies have found that antidepressants can alleviate hot flashes by regulating imbalances in the brain. As a natural antidepressant, CBD may provide a good alternative to those psychiatric drugs.
For more information on the antidepressant effects of CBD, you can check out our guide here.
Almost every woman gains weight during menopause. In fact, even some women who were skinny their whole lives find that hormonal changes during menopause can make them fat. This happens because the loss of estrogen during menopause means that your body is now burning fewer calories.
The best solution for menopause weight gain is simply to eat less, as your body can now function with fewer nutrients. Keeping active and exercising a few times a week can also make a big difference and prevent you from gaining too much weight.
Studies on the benefits of CBD for weight loss are still in the early stages—but they are very promising. For example, this 2016 study showed that CBD could affect the way that your cells work so that they start burning more fat more quickly. A 2008 study also showed that the endocannabinoid system plays a key role in energy metabolism, and that endocannabinoids help us regulate our appetite and the way our bodies use energy.
One of the most dangerous consequences of menopause is that it frequently leads to a loss in bone density. After losing their period, many women find that their bones become more fragile. This puts them at greater risk of fractures and accidents, which could have some serious consequences.
To prevent osteoporosis, it’s important that menopausal women include sources of minerals like calcium in their diet. Resistance training can also increase your bone density, so now may be a good time to pick up a few weights or an exercise band!
And because the endocannabinoid system plays such an important role in bone production, supplementing with cannabinoids like CBD could also help. A 2015 study even found that CBD could help to strengthen bones and heal fractures faster by stimulating certain enzymes. To find out more about how CBD can prevent and treat osteoporosis, we invite you to check out this article.
Hormones play a crucial role in helping us get enough restorative sleep every night. During menopause, your hormones may be causing insomnia by increasing your levels of anxiety or giving you night sweats. At a time when your body needs rest more than ever, fixing your sleep schedule should be a priority.
Supplements like melatonin can help you sleep better, even through night sweats or anxious periods. Meanwhile, simple changes like sleeping with a light blanket can also make you more comfortable.
If this isn’t enough, supplementing with CBD could also be a great way to get your sleep back. CBD has been shown to improve sleep patterns in people who suffer from insomnia, helping them fall asleep more easily and getting more hours of restorative sleep. And because it also reduces anxiety naturally, it’s a supplement you can take if your worries are keeping you from falling asleep.
To learn more about how CBD can help you sleep, you can read our in-depth article on CBD and sleep disorders here.
Depression and mood changes
Finally, many women find that hormonal changes in the time of menopause make them depressed, anxious or irritable. This is not surprising. After all, hormonal health is key in the treatment of many mental health conditions, especially in women.
Before going on psychiatric medications like an anti-depressant for your mental health issues, you may want to give CBD a chance. Numerous studies have shown it can lift your mood, alleviate anxiety and help you feel more balanced. For example, this 2018 review of studies notes that CBD can be helpful to deal with conditions as diverse as depression, anxiety, social phobia, sleep disorders, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder.
To find out more about how CBD can help with any mental health condition, including depression, anxiety, or sleep disorders, you can enter your symptoms on our conditions page here.
How much CBD should I take for menopause?
The question of dose is always a difficult one to answer. CBD works a little bit differently on everyone. We all have different needs depending on our height, weight, age and health condition.
To find out how much CBD you should take based on your menopausal symptoms, we encourage you to visit a doctor with a background in natural medicine and/or CBD. They will be able to advise you on a dose that works well for your symptoms.
Are there any counterindications?
As a substance, CBD is very safe and presents very few side effects. That being said, it can interact with other medicines. So if you’re currently taking any medication to treat a chronic or acute health condition, we encourage you to check with your doctor before you start taking CBD.
Many women find hormonal changes during menopause to be a challenge. As well as causing physical symptoms like hot flashes, dry skin and weak bones, menopause can also make you depressed or anxious, or even stop you from sleeping properly. As a molecule with a holistic effect on your whole body, CBD can help with quite a few of these problems: it has the potential to reduce hot flashes, help you lose weight, protect your bones, help you sleep and improve your mood. We think those are enough reasons to give it a try!
Menopause facts and figures
2010 study on the role of serotonin in hot flashes
2014 review of recommendations issued by the North American Menopause Society
CBD for mood disorders
2018 review of the effects of CBD on physical and mental health conditions.
2018 study on the effects of CBD against depression on mice
2014 study on the antidepressant effects of CBD
2017 review of the effects of cannabis vs CBD on anxiety
2019 study on CBD for anxiety and sleep
CBD for weight loss
2016 study on the effects of CBD on fat cells
2008 study on the role of the endocannabinoid system in energy metabolism
CBD for osteoporosis
2012 study on the role of the endocannabinoid system in bone production
2009 study on cannabinoids and bone loss
2015 study on CBD for fracture healing
CBD for insomnia
2019 study on CBD for anxiety and sleep
Safety profile of CBD
2017 study on the safety and side effects of CBD
2019 review of potential interactions between cannabinoids and synthetic drugs