CBD for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Would you consider cannabidiol as a possible treatment of the symptoms of PCOS?
Success has been shown in CBD treating anxiety, pain, PMS, and sleep issues. CBD’s anxiolytic, non-psychoactive properties can potentially be beneficial for PCOS patients and help them feel calm and relaxed and improve their sleep quality.
What is PCOS?
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It refers to a condition which affects the hormonal levels of a woman. PCOS is characterized by the production of higher-than-normal male hormones. Physical signs are severe acne, dandruff, weight gain, hirsutism, and male-pattern baldness. Internal symptoms include missed periods and abnormal heavy flow, multiple cysts, pelvic pain and thickening of the uterus wall.
The occasional skipping of menstrual periods reduces the chance of becoming pregnant, therefore women suffering from PCOS tend to struggle with fertility. The ovaries may also develop several fluid collections preventing the regular release of eggs. PCOS causes an increase in insulin; the hormone that regulates how the foods you consume is transformed into energy. It may also prevent your body from regulating the amount of this hormone making insulin blood levels to be higher than normal. Risk factors are unhealthy eating habits, obesity, lack of enough exercise and genetics.
Symptoms of PCOS cause substantial discomfort and pain. One treatment option that is gaining momentum today is cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive chemical found in medical cannabis. It works fast to reduce symptoms of PCOS. Note that there are many different varieties of CBD products that vary in potency and dosage. The exact dose that suits you depends on your symptoms; PCOS produces a broad range of signs and side effects. You must factor in the same while choosing the variety that best suits your condition.
For a medical condition always consult with a healthcare professional before consuming CBD.
Why Can CBD Work For Treating PCOS?
Anti-inflammatory/Pain Relief Properties
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an anti-inflammatory and has pain relief properties. There is evidence glycinergic CBDs are strong therapeutical agents that can be used to treat neuropathic and inflammatory pain. They are, therefore, capable of attenuating compulsive pain without causing significant analgesic tolerance and psychoactive side effects. Cannabidiols also possess anti-anxiety properties and hence are usually administered for patients with anxiety disorders. These properties make CBD ideal for the treat PCOS symptoms, primarily sleep and anxiety issues.
Maintains a Healthy ECS
ECS (Endocannabinoid system) is a signaling mechanism that maintains homeostasis in your body. It is composed of Endocannabinoids and two cannabinoid receptors whose role is to balance all the processes including reproduction. Research has shown that ECS malfunction causes PCOS in some women. Cannabinoid shares identical chemical makeup with endocannabinoids, therefore it helps keep your system running smoothly. So, supplementing with CBD has a direct effect on PCOS patients; it aids the treatment process.
What Are The Benefits of Using CBD to Treat PCOS?
A 2005 study by Hollinrake 1 revealed that women with PCOS are more likely to develop stress and depression. Patients using CBD will not only feel calmer but also reap heavily from its anti-stress effect. It helps patients cope with the otherwise painful and disturbing symptoms. The fact that CBD has everything it takes to help your system run smoothly means it can restore hormonal balance.
The end result is a decrease in menstrual irregularity and a corresponding increase in the likelihood of conceiving. Cannabidiols also reduce body fats and hence are effective in controlling weight, one of the risk factors for developing PCOS. The characteristic reduction in pain, when using CBD, relieves patients of the agony.
How PCOS Affects The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
ECS is composed of a series of receptors present in all major bodily systems. Its function is to keep virtually every physiological process, such as digestion, pain modulation and the reproductive system in a state of balance. Under normal circumstance, devoid of PCOS, naturally released cannabinoids constantly act on the receptors thus eliciting chemical responses which, in turn, maintain the various bodily processes in homeostasis. PCOS, characterized by the growth of small cysts on the ovaries, is an organized metabolic and endocrine disorder. It causes excessive production of androgen, insulin, hyperlipidemia, anovulatory, acne, hirsute, adrenal hyperplasia and weight gain. The disorder, therefore, destabilizes ECS making your body to develop several disturbing symptoms.
How Can I Use CBD to Treat PCOS?
Before you start using CBD for any health reason, it is important that you consult your doctor first. This is because the doctor will be able to evaluate your body and the extent of the disease or condition. This way, the doctor is also able to advise you the best way to use CBD to treat PCOS.
CBD is currently being offered in different forms such as oil, paste, tablets, and vapes. CBD oil or paste has been shown as being a preferred option for many people. However, it is best to choose the form that you feel most comfortable using.
CBD Dosage for PCOS
If used properly, CBD can be a great option for many people. However, it’s important to remember that every person is unique and everyone’s reaction to CBD is different. The recommended dosage from each product can differ greatly, creating some confusion. Dosage may be different depending on the percentage of CBD oil you are using.
We recommend the Step-Up method as described by Leinow and Birnbaum in their book CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis 2 . For detailed information about dosage, see our post on CBD dosage.
What Are Studies Saying About Using CBD for PCOS?
A study by Alison J. Dawson 3 has shown that endocannabinoid receptor blockage brought about by CBD lowers alanine amino transfer in women with PCOS that has no relationship with weight loss. This finding shows that CBD can eliminate disturbing PCOS symptoms and reinstate homeostasis in the body. The study was composed of two groups, each of 50 obese women suffering from PCOS. The group put on CBD recorded impressive results that confirm CBD is effective in the treatment of PCOS.
Another study 4 conducted by the International Journal of Endocrinology obtained a similar finding. The study involved one group of 173 women with Polycystic Ovary syndrome, aged 20-53, and a different one with 125, healthy (weight and age-matched) randomly selected from the population. The results mirrored those of the separate study, further confirming that CBD is effective for treating PCOS. While these results are a step in the right direction be sure you consult your medical practitioner for expert advice on the PCOS treatment regime.
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Cannabidiol/CBD Oil for PCOS?
I am often asked if we can use cannabidiol for PCOS. While it is not something that I use or have much experience with, many women with PCOS report positive results, so I did a little research. As always, I encourage you to explore new ideas and educate yourself about possible treatments, then evaluate and discuss options with your medical provider.
What is Cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol is a chemical compound in the Cannabis sativa plant which is more commonly known as marijuana. The plant itself has over 80 chemicals known as cannabinoids, and cannabidiol is just one of them. No, it won’t make you feel high. A compound called Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the major active ingredient and the one responsible for the psychoactive property of marijuana. Cannabidiol, on the other hand, is a separate compound altogether and has none of the psychoactive properties THC possesses.
How do you get Cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol makes up about 40% of cannabis extracts and is currently the subject of curiosity for many types of therapeutic applications. Cannabidiol is produced in two ways:
- Natural . Cannabidiol is abundant in the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol can be found in both marijuana and hemp varieties of cannabis, the difference being the level of THC with the former being grown specifically for its THC. Hemp only has trace amounts of THC which makes hemp legal in the United States while marijuana is federally illegal.
- Synthetic. Synthetic cannabidiol has been produced successfully, but it is a strictly regulated substance and possession of it is illegal outside of a few specialized circumstances.
Known effects of cannabidiol
Pain relief and inflammation
Taking cannabidiol for pain and inflammation is one of the biggest reasons why people are taking it both orally and topically. 
“ Transdermal cannabidiol (CBD) gel application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritic pain-related behaviours and exerts an anti-inflammation property without evident high brain centre psychoactive effects. “
Cannabidiol is known to significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rat subjects without promoting analgesic (pain reliever) tolerance. Because of this, many scientists believe cannabidiol has potential for the treatment of chronic pain. 
“ Collectively, we have provided evidence to suggest that glycinergic cannabinoids are ideal therapeutic agents in the treatment of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. They can effectively attenuate pathological pain without significantly causing major psychoactive side effect and analgesic tolerance.”
Helps with anxiety
Cannabidiol has been shown to possess anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties in patients diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and scientists even consider its potential for panic disorder, OCD, and PTSD. 
“ Studies using animal models of anxiety and involving healthy volunteers clearly suggest an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD. Moreover, CBD was shown to reduce anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorder. “
For more about CBD and anxiety, read Dr. David Brady’s article on the subject.
Potential use for PCOS
Many are considering cannabidiol to help them cope with the symptoms of PCOS, mainly with anxiety, pain, PMS, and sleep issues. Because of cannabidiol’s anxiolytic properties without the “high,” PCOS patients could potentially see some benefits and help them feel calmer and sleep better. More than to just help women feel less stressed and pained, cannabidiol might actually directly improve PCOS treatment by means of the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a signaling network that is generally responsible in maintaining balance or homeostasis in the body. The ECS is named as such due to it being composed of endocannabinoids, ligands created by the body on demand, and two cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2). These receptors are always striving to make sure everything in our body, including the processes involved in reproduction , are balanced.
So what happens when things go haywire? Current literature suggests ECS dysfunction, whether too little or too much, could be one of the few reasons why women develop PCOS, with some of the symptoms of PCOS such as insulin resistance and obesity possibly influenced by the ECS. [5, 6]
“ In conclusion, our results clearly demonstrate that activation of endocannabinoids and overexpression of cannabinoid receptors, especially CB1, may be associated with insulin resistance in women with PCOS. “
How does something like cannabidiol help with maintaining a healthy ECS? Well, cannabidiol happens to share identical chemical makeup to endocannabinoids which allows them to interact with cannabinoid receptors to help keep the system running smoothly. This means supplementing with cannabidiol might actually have a direct effect on PCOS patients when it comes to treatment.
While these studies are promising, I encourage you to conduct further research on your own and consult your medical provider before using this or any supplement, compound, or treatment.
For more about CBD for PCOS, listen to (or read the transcript) of my podcast with Mary Clifton, “CBD for PCOS- Is It Right for You? [Podcast]“
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.