A recent study shows one in four women have tried some form of cannabis to ease menopause symptoms. While it is not a panacea, the compounds in cannabis appear to help regulate symptoms of the so-called change of life.
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive life, beginning 12 months after the last menstrual period. Common symptoms include vaginal dryness, insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. The combination of these symptoms can cause varying degrees of anxiety or depression, as well.
Hormone therapies are traditional forms of relief, but increasingly, women want natural, non-hormonal options. Medical cannabis may fit the bill.
THC: Studies show that THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, helps to decrease body temperature, which may alleviate hot flashes. The relaxing effect of marijuana may also promote better sleep and even out mood swings.
CBD: Users of some CBD creams find them useful to combat intimate dryness. Some research suggests cannabidiol’s anti-inflammatory properties can treat hormone-activated conditions like acne, and improve bone density.
Of course, not everyone responds to cannabis and CBD for menopause in the same way. Doses vary, and dispensary workers might not be aware of the dosing needs of older women. It is best to trust a healthcare professional like Dr. Sheila Brush to make a safe recommendation on products and dosages.
New Research on Cannabis and Menopause
At the 2020 annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), researchers presented information confirming interest in marijuana and menopause. Among the findings: In a California study of midlife female veterans, more women reported using cannabis for menopause relief than the frontline treatment, hormone replacement therapy.
- About 27 percent of the study subjects were actively using marijuana for menopause relief, or had used it in the past
- Nineteen percent used traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Ten percent expressed interest in using cannabis to manage uncomfortable symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, and insomnia
It is important to note that some women in the study relied on several approaches to alleviate symptoms.
The Risks of Marijuana Use in Menopausal Women
Some are skeptical about cannabis use in managing menopause symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research suggests that marijuana affects memory, emotions, decision-making, and other executive functioning skills and that long-term use raises anxiety. Women are more prone to these effects than men, the research suggests.
Still, cannabis researchers say proper dosing is critical. One naturopathic doctor in California, reacting to the 2020 study, likens cannabis to peppers: some are stronger than others. CBD, which is non-psychoactive, may be a better choice for some women.
For questions, accurate dosing, and treatment of menopausal symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Sheila Brush, our 20882 medical cannabis doctor.