Menopause often brings women experiences that range from uncomfortable to unbearable. The most common are depression, dry or sagging skin, hot flushes, insomnia, loss of libido, memory problems, mood swings, night sweats, osteoporosis and vaginal dryness. There are more menopausal women as life expectancy rises. The number of women who use cannabis rather than other medicines is likely to also increase.
You don’t want HRT
Doctors often resort to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat menopause. One large study, however, found that this brought increased risks of blood clots, cancer, heart disease and strokes. Might cannabis be a better proposition?
Take cannabis to delay menopause
Underweight women and those who commence menopause early have low endocannabinoid levels. Endocannabinoids – endogenous cannabinoids – are chemicals the body makes that are similar to the cannabinoids we know so well. So taking tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabis ingredient that makes you stoned, could delay the onset of menopause.
Hot flushes and night sweats
The body produces the endocannabinoid anandamide, which helps to regulate body temperature. Studies have shown that THC lowers body temperature. So menopausal women who get hot flushes and night sweats would benefit from taking cannabis.
Take cannabis for osteoporosis
The female sex hormone oestrogen regulates cell regeneration in the bones. If there’s less of it, osteoporosis can result. A number of studies have demonstrated that cannabis prevents bone loss and increases bone density. So taking cannabis will stave off or reverse osteoporosis.
Cannabis makes obesity less likely
Menopause can cause insulin resistance, sparking off diabetes and obesity. The prevalence of obesity in cannabis users is lower than in the general population. Perhaps menopausal women should be taking cannabis.
Cannabis relieves pain
It’s very well-known that cannabis relieves pain. Menopausal women suffering from back pain, breast pain and headaches would do well to take it.
Studies that prove the point
An online survey run by New York’s University of Albany in 2015 covered 115 menopausal women. Mitch Earleywine, PhD, was a co-author of the paper and professor of psychology at the university. He commented that those women with “joint and muscle discomfort, irritability, sleep disturbance and depression responded well, but [those with] vaginal dryness and bladder problems did not.”
In 2020, one study looked at 232 women living in northern California with an average age of 56. More than half – 54 percent – reported regularly suffering from hot flushes and night sweats. Insomnia, meanwhile, was a problem for 27 percent, and 69 percent had frequent genito-urinary symptoms. Over a quarter of the women used cannabis to battle their menopausal symptoms. A further 10 percent were considering it. Only 19 percent of these women used a conventional form of menopause symptom management, such as hormone treatment. So cannabis use is more widespread than traditional approaches.
This research featured at the 2020 North American Menopause Society’s Virtual Annual Meeting. Carolyn Gibson, PhD, was the psychologist and health services researcher at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Health Care System who led the study. She remarked, “These findings suggest that cannabis use to manage menopause symptoms may be relatively common.”