For many people, the influence of cannabis on humans is limited to the way it impacts their brain. In other words, they still envision the “high” as the only effect associated with the use of the herb. In fact, they couldn’t be more wrong, as cannabis actually interacts with various systems in the body, including the reproductive system. The nature of cannabis enables it to engage with the sex hormone, estrogen, which is the main concern for women undergoing menopause and suffering from hot flashes.
Our question for today is: how can cannabis help with hot flashes and menopause in general? Let’s delve into it and give you ladies some answers.
What You Need to Know About Menopause
In short, menopause is the period in a woman’s life when menstruation slows down and eventually stops. It usually happens among women in their 50s or mid-40s at the earliest and can last for years. Once the menopause stage is complete, the woman is no longer able to conceive.
We distinguish three phases of menopause: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.
As you may have already noticed, perimenopause refers to the time before the end of menstruation; it is when the levels of estrogen in the body start to decrease. This process begins a couple of years before your body enters the menopause stage. Full menopause stops the ovulation entirely, which means that your body will no longer produce high levels of estrogen.
The 12-month period after the last menstrual cycle is what we refer to as post-menopause. During this stage, all menopausal symptoms should ease.
What Are Hot Flashes?
As the name suggests, a hot flash is a sudden and temporary burst of heat that can drive you crazy within seconds. Some ladies experiencing hot flashes can be compared to Dr. Bruce Banner who suddenly turns into Hulk and is ready to destroy everything within his reach. Other ladies may just be uncomfortable with the sudden onset of a full blush and an overheated feeling.
From the medical point of view, a hot flash is the most common symptom of menopause, troubling more than two-thirds of women whose bodies are dealing with the condition. It’s characterized by a sudden feeling of heat that is detectable in the upper body and, most of the time, in the face. It can cause your cheeks to turn beet red and make you start sweating in the blink of an eye. Some women also report chills or a rapid heart rate because the blood vessels near the surface of the skin dilate to regulate the temperature of the woman’s body.
What makes hot flashes particularly annoying for most women is the time when they occur. Usually, they happen at night, which makes it extremely difficult for them to fall asleep. This is why they are also nicknamed, “the night sweats”.
The Role of the Endocannabinoid System in Menopause
The endocannabinoid system plays a major role in regulating many bodily functions, and including those functions associated with menopause. The role of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain homeostasis in the body, so it affects the body’s primary system of maintaining hormonal balance.
According to what we know about the endocannabinoid system so far, it helps regulate:
- Hormone levels
- Temperature control
- Reproductive cycles
- Immune responses
- Blood sugar levels
The first three bullet points are associated with the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes.
Interestingly, it looks like estrogen can directly interact with endocannabinoids, which is why cannabis can help women overcome certain symptoms of the menopause. Because cannabinoids act in a similar way to the body’s own endocannabinoid system.
How Does THC Help With Hot Flashes?
Although there are no scientific studies on cannabis and hot flashes, it is a well-known fact that THC is responsible for lowering body temperature. It does so by mimicking the structure of the endocannabinoid called anandamide.
However, the cooling effects of THC are largely dose-dependent. The more you consume, the lower body temperature you’ll have. Anecdotal evidence and animal-model studies suggest that this theory is true.
On the other hand, consuming just a little THC may increase your body temperature, so if you’re trying to get rid of hot flashes when they hit you, consider hitting a THC-rich cannabis strain.
Hot Flashes And CBD
When it comes to interactions between different cannabinoids, the relationship between THC and CBD is the most thoroughly-researched link. These two chemicals produce synergistic effects that can boost the therapeutic properties of the cannabis plant.
But how does CBD affect menopause and hot flashes?
Well, just like we said, menopause is caused by the decrease in women’s hormones, mainly estrogen. This, in turn, can cause a number of side effects among which hot flashes are rather mild. One of the most serious side effects of menopause is bone loss, the main reason behind osteoporosis.
Now, a typical physician will likely prescribe estrogen replacement therapy with certain drugs that are to compensate for your body’s lack of production of this hormone. However, many women don’t even qualify for the therapy because it increases their risk of severe diseases, such as gallstones, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks, and blood clots.
Naturally, this has led many ladies to turn to natural remedies. And luckily, there is a natural alternative for stopping bone loss, and its name is cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis.
CBD has been proven to help with bone regeneration, and some researchers believe that it might even help women prevent osteoporosis during the postmenopause stage. More importantly, CBD protects healthy cells in the body while killing breast cancer cells. That being said, if you’ve been using the estrogen replacement therapy and you’re afraid about the condition of your breasts, CBD may come in handy.
As for the synergistic effects of CBD and THC, cannabidiol can lower the body temperature just like its psychoactive friend. It does this by boosting the serotonin activity, so next time you get hot flashes because of menopause, a few drops of CBD oil may help you overcome the crisis.
Cannabis and Hot Flashes: The Final Hit
Alas, the research on the impact of cannabis on menopause is very scant. Yet, what we know so far – according to the available literature – shows great promise for running further studies on the relationship between the use of marijuana and easing menopausal symptoms.
Keep in mind that your cannabis supplementation may vary depending on the condition, and there are different strains that can help you with particular symptoms. Consult your doctor about using cannabis for menopause and hot flashes and pick the best strain for your conditions – budtenders at medical dispensaries should give you a hand if you need further help with selecting your variety.
Have you used cannabis for hot flashes? Share your stories with us!