As women age, they produce less estrogen. This means less anandamide and a disrupted endocannabinoid system.
Menopause will likely disrupt every aspect of a woman‘s life, physically, logistically, and emotionally. The reason this change is such a dramatic burden to feminine wellbeing could be because the endocannabinoid system itself is disrupted during menopause.
To help manage dramatic hormonal changes, physicians have traditionally prescribed hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. Additional estrogen support may also help prevent bone loss. However, HRT is not an appropriate treatment for some women, including those with cancer, blood clots, heart disease, liver disease, and those afflicted by stroke.
Cannabis is an alternate treatment that can help restore homeostasis and relieve symptoms of menopause AND it is without dangerous side effects.
How Does Menopause Disrupt the Endocannabinoid System?
Some of the negative symptoms of menopause (sweating, hot flashes, migraines, moodiness, and night sweats) may be the result of a reduction in endocannabinoid signaling. It makes sense, as estrogen levels are closely linked to naturally occurring cannabinoid levels. In fertile women, estrogen and anandamide (endocannabinoid) peak at ovulation, but this no longer occurs when menopause sets in.
Cannabinoids, such as THC, trigger the endocannabinoid system by locking into CB1 and CB2 receptors. A third receptor, CB3 (GPR55) is also being investigated as a critical component of the endocannabinoid system that may be binding CBD. This would explain why CBD is such a versatile medicine, able to successfully treat so many different conditions.
These same receptors play a variety of roles in the human body, one of which is to accept a naturally occurring cannabinoid called anandamide. One of the roles of anandamide is to regulate the maturity and subsequent release of eggs during a woman’s ovulation period. Anandamide breaks down by because of an enzyme called “fatty acid amide hydrolase” (FAAH). Estrogen controlls FAAH levels. Therefore, as estrogen levels drop, as do the actions of anandamide.
Will Cannabis Treat a Disrupted Endocannabinoid System?
As mentioned above, THC triggers the CB1 and CB2 receptors within the endocannabinoid system. This means that it can play an important role in ridding women of debilitating symptoms of menopause by ending the disruption of the endocannabinoid system.
Interestingly, a woman’s estrogen levels affect her responses to cannabis. When a woman has high estrogen levels, her responses to cannabis, including its natural pain relieving properties, are actually stronger. This means it takes a much smaller dose of cannabis for a woman with premenstrual estrogen levels to receive medicinal benefit. The reverse is true as estrogen levels drop in menopause.
Estrogen also changes the availability of receptors, which changes the ability of anandamide (and THC) to bring pain relief, sedation, and mood elevation. This means that women may need to experiment with dosage depending on which phase of fertility they are traveling through. Cannabis can effectively restore endocannabinoid functioning as its cannabinoids activate the same receptors as anandamide.
How Much Cannabis to Regulate the Endocannabinoid System?
Dosage is critical to getting relief from the symptoms of menopause. If you take 10mg of cannabis at night, you will have a good night sleep, free of night sweats, and will not wake feeling the effects. During the day, experiment with levels of THC. The top recommended ratio for general relief of symptoms is 1:1 (CBD:THC). If you are trying to relieve pain, use a higher THC concentration. You may also benefit from micro-dosing throughout the day. This means taking a smaller amount more often. It keeps you from having to deal with the psychoactive side effects of THC but still brings symptom relief. If you are using edibles, can microdose by cutting into halves or quarters. If you are taking oil, take 0.25mL instead of 1mL every 4 to 6 hours.
One final bonus of using cannabis is that CBD prevents the loss of bone density. Recent research indicates that CBD may improve bone density overall and thus prevent osteoporosis.
If you’re going through menopause, speak to your doctor about a medical cannabis prescription to treat your symptoms.
Medical cannabis is safer than most pharmaceuticals, and easier to get than ever before. Further, the stigma is rapidly evaporating. Why not try it?
Hi there! Such a good article, thank you!