THC (The Honest Conversation) About CBD
Everyone seems to be using CBD these days, for everything from allergies to anxiety to arthritis.
But because it’s so new to the world of health and wellness, there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding it.
Is it safe? Is it effective? And just how do we harness the power of CBD for use in women’s health?
Today we’ll dive into these questions with an honest conversation where we separate fact from fiction and break down some misconceptions surrounding CBD, THC, and their uses.
What is CBD?
Because it’s been everywhere lately, you’ve likely heard of CBD or CBD oil. But what is it, exactly? And how is it used?
CBD – short for cannabidiol – is the second most common ingredient from the cannabis plant, with the other being THC. It’s often extracted from the plant and mixed with other oils – such as coconut – to make CBD oil.
There are many ways to take CBD: orally – via pills, dissolving capsules, edibles, or sprays; or topically – through creams, lotions, gels.
If you’ve heard people praising the benefits of CBD, it’s for good reason: CBD is used to manage a variety of symptoms and conditions, such as:
- Chronic pain related to various illnesses (including women’s health conditions)
- Nausea and vomiting
How is CBD different from THC?*
CBD and THC, the main ingredient in marijuana, both come from the same genus of plant (cannabis). Though both compounds affect neurotransmitters in your brain that give them similar therapeutic effects, only THC causes you to feel “high.”
“It’s mainly the THC molecule that is the intoxicating cannabinoid in the plant,” says Dr. Monica Vialpando, CEO of Via Innovations, a scientific research team dedicated to the advancement of cannabis products.
What if I apply a product with THC to my skin? Will that make me high?
Both CBD and THC topicals are designed to relieve localized muscle pain only, and only to permeate the skin in small and localized amounts. They are not designed to enter your bloodstream, though small amounts do.
“Cannabinoids are very hard to get through the skin,” says Dr. Vialpando. “The upper layer of skin, the stratum corneum, essentially acts as an armor to protect us – it’s very hard to get anything through it.”
However, that’s not the case in mucosal regions – where the blood supply is greater, the absorption will be higher. This leads us to our next question…
How are CBD products currently used in women’s health?
In the US alone, CBD sales rake in over $600 million – expected to hit $2 billion in a few years – with much of this being marketed to women.
There’s much potential for these products in sexual health and wellness – a market that’s currently exploding. One of these products is CBD-containing lubricant.
Caution: neither CBD nor THC lubricants have been cleared or approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Claims that they can help reduce inflammation of vaginal tissues, or reduce pain during sexual intercourse, are unsubstantiated and therefore are being made impermissibly. There are no well-controlled clinical studies to support the use of CBD-containing products to the vagina or vulvar tissues. This brings us to safety concerns…
Vaginal and vulvar skin is made up of mucosal tissue and therefore has a higher bioavailability – the amount of a drug that enters circulation – so it’s important to do your homework and choose products that are formulated for use in the pelvic area specifically, with these skin tissues in mind. CBD-containing products applied to the vulva and vagina have not been scientifically tested to demonstrate that they are safe.
CBD-containing products have not been tested to demonstrate that they are compatible with condoms. Because CBD is usually oil-based it can break down latex, so it’s not a good idea to use it with a latex condom when trying to prevent pregnancy or STIs.
What should I look for when using CBD or THC products?
Federal and state regulations vary on CBD- and THC-based products and the market is ever-evolving. Because of this, the product quality can differ significantly from one manufacturer to another. Here’s what to consider when browsing the market:
Review the company’s website.
Check out their mission statement and the About Us page – how transparent are they in their processes, standards, and practices? What education do they provide around their products? Do they list potential side effects or unintended results? Do they make unsubstantiated treatment claims?
Was the product made in a GMP facility?
Products developed using Good Manufacturing Practices must adhere to certain standards required by the US FDA.
Is the product clearly labeled? Product ingredients and byproducts can vary and may not be consistent from batch to batch. Look for clear ingredient labels.
Does the company focus on one type of CBD/THC product, or many? If they’re selling sexual wellness products side-by-side with vape pens, gummies, and other products that vary in their use and effectiveness, BEWARE. Nutritional supplements are held to different FDA standards than products applied to the intimate tissues of the vulva and vagina.
We hope this information has helped you learn more about the use of CBD and THC products so you can make a thoughtful decision about how to use them to meet your needs. (Note: Be sure to check your local state laws for the legal use of CBD and THC.)
For a non-CBD lubricant that helps with vaginal irritation, check out Mia Vita, our FDA-cleared product that helps with vaginal dryness and irritation.
**This article was based on an episode from Love Mia Vita, FemmePharma’s podcast. To listen to the full episode, click here.**
CBD Oil and Menopause: Does CBD Help With Menopause Symptoms?
Most of us don’t start thinking about menopause until it’s just around the corner — leaving us completely unprepared to deal with its irksome symptoms, especially in the early stages.
But the sooner you detect and proactively respond to the changes taking place inside your body, the better.
Unfortunately, the current medical system lacks support for the needs of peri- and post-menopausal women, so like many others, you may be turning to natural resources for aid.
Menopause is one of the top reasons women use cannabis products. The hype hemp-derived CBD oil is gaining for easing peri- and post-menopausal symptoms isn’t based just on anecdotal evidence — scientists also suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) could be useful for menopause symptoms.
In this article, I’ll cover the 8 most common menopause symptoms and how CBD can alleviate them — and show you my personal list of trusted CBD brands.
But first, let’s go over the basics.
First of All, What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a concentrated hemp extract that contains a carrier oil (like sweet almond oil or MCT oil), cannabidiol (CBD), and a variety of trace cannabinoids, terpenes, and other hemp compounds.
Unlike its marijuana-derived counterpart, hemp-derived CBD oil can’t get you high because it only contains 0.3% THC — which isn’t enough to get you high
CBD oil interacts with the endocannabinoid system — one of the most important networks in humans that regulates every homeostatic function in the body. This includes processes like memory, mood, cognitive performance, immune response, body temperature, appetite, sensory perception, and more.
CBD supports the endocannabinoid system through two sets of receptors (CB1 and CB2) and several receptor-independent routes so it can maintain the chemical balance in the body whenever any of the above functions becomes compromised.
Because of that, CBD offers a plethora of health benefits, including emotional stability, better sleep, reduced stress, and relief from inflammation and pain. It’s no wonder women struggling with menopause turn to CBD oil for help.
How Does Menopause Affect Women?
Women are born with millions of immature eggs in their ovaries. Since puberty, our bodies start to produce more estrogen every time an egg matures, which happens approximately once a month.
However, as time flies, our supplies of eggs begin to shrink. And once we use up all our eggs, our menstruation stops which means the end of your estrogen burst. That’s how menopause is triggered.
Well, in very simplified terms, of course.
In fact, menopause is more complicated than we think.
For the years prior to menopause (i.e. perimenopause), our estrogen levels fluctuate from the highs and lows a little bit less each year.
There’s a host of hormones that go on a roller-coaster ride along with estrogen, all of which are meant to keep your body operating in carefully orchestrated cycles.
Consequently, some molecules in your body controlled by these hormones also start to increase or decrease. The body starts to produce inflammatory molecules and your brain’s neurochemistry changes too.
Menopause impacts the inner clockwork of our bodies, from brain function to bone reabsorption to fat accumulation.
And each woman’s experience of menopause is different.
Menopausal Symptoms: Causes & Potential Solutions
The current state of the medical system in regards to menopause is changing. For way too long, women have been silent about menopause and their needs during that period — so the topic was neglected by modern medicine.
As a matter of fact, scientists are still trying to find out why and how a woman’s body changes during menopause.
Much of the research presented in this article is at the cutting edge when it comes to interactions between CBD and menopause symptoms.
It’s unlikely your doctor will explain them to you, but I believe the more you understand about the nature of menopause, the easier it will be to find relief.
Here are the 8 menopause symptoms you can alleviate using CBD oil:
1. Aches & Joint Pain
Do you feel achy more often than you used to? Without estrogen, our bodies produce more inflammatory molecules, specifically TNFα — short for tumor necrosis factor (1). A spontaneous increase in the levels of this molecule is associated with faster onset of menopause.
This means that you may start experiencing arthritis symptoms during menopause. More than 60% of women aged 40–64 struggle with muscle and joint pain (2).
CBD has documented anti-inflammatory properties. As shown in animal models, it can act as an anti-arthritic by protecting joints against inflammatory damage and reducing concentrations of inflammatory TNFα (3).
You can use CBD oil as a supplement to your dietary regimen and low-impact exercise to combat inflammation during menopause.
2. Mood Swings & Depression
Anxiety and depression are common in women during menopause. Estrogen and progesterone regulate the activity of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, directly affecting mood.
As the levels of these hormones rapidly decrease, your neurochemistry will change, hence the emotional distress.
CBD can help with anxiety on two levels. First, it facilitates serotonin neurotransmission through one of its receptors (5-HT1A), making it more available for the brain and regulating mood (4). Secondly, and most importantly, CBD is able to improve the binding ability of a neurotransmitter known as GABA — GABA acts as the brake pedal for the nervous system, slowing down neurological activity and helping us relax when we experience an anxiety attack (5).
When it comes to depression, CBD offers some remarkable benefits to different causes of this disease. There are a few phase 2 clinical trials being conducted on the effects of CBD for different types of depression.
3. Hot Flashes & Night Sweats
Women frequently joke about hot flashes and night sweats, but this is a serious problem for those going through menopause.
These symptoms are triggered by altered chemistry in the hypothalamus — the body’s own thermoregulator. In short, your body’s cooling abilities — including sweat response and vessel dilation — get activated way too often.
Menopausal women who suffer from hot flashes are triggered when their body temperature rises by only 1.5 degrees, whereas those before menopause have their cooling system switched off unless their temperature increases by almost 3 degrees (6).
Here’s where CBD may help.
Although there’s been no research that has specifically looked for CBD and its influence on hot flashes, its ability to interact with the body’s serotonin system could be one reason why some women use CBD for this symptom.
There actually several other tools that can help you calm the nervous system, such as behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, or hypnosis.
4. Weight Gain & Diabetes
Hormones play a significant role in shaping our bodies on many levels; this also includes controlling our metabolism.
Without estrogen, our bodies don’t burn as many calories as they did before the plunge — even while sleeping. You may suddenly notice that you also burn less fat during physical activity.
Even if you cut down on calories and avoid weight fluctuation, the ongoing hormonal changes tell your body to sacrifice lean muscle mass in favor of abdominal fat.
This way of storing fat, unfortunately, makes you more exposed to cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
According to population studies, adults who use cannabis regularly have lower insulin levels and smaller waist circumferences than those who abstain from cannabinoids (7).
CBD could contribute to that phenomenon by triggering the PPAR-γ receptor that boosts our metabolism. On top of that, CBD also helps increase the production of natural endocannabinoids, including 2-AG, which can mitigate insulin resistance, especially during menopause (8).
5. Genitourinary Syndrome
Estrogen helps maintain proper blood flow to the pelvic region, bringing fresh oxygen to the tissues in the sexual organs and urinary tract. Long story short, it keeps things elastic and healthy.
Once women enter menopause, these functions get easily compromised and lead to an array of unpleasant conditions, such as inflammation, muscle stress, and oversensitivity in those intimate regions.
If that happens to you, I suggest that you use a topical lubricant that contains CBD or THC. Both these cannabinoids are potent vasodilators, which means they can make your body funnel more blood to the pelvic region — moisturizing the vaginal canal.
CBD can also reduce inflammation, relax muscles, and calm the nerves within the vagina.
Our bodies regularly transfer calcium and other minerals between the bloodstream and bones. As we enter the perimenopausal stage, less calcium is added to the bone, and more is taken away, resulting in lowering bone density and making us more exposed to fractures.
New studies suggest that inflammation triggered by arthritis or other conditions might be one of the most significant causes of bone degeneration — the main suspect here is, again, TNFα (9).
It appears that the same anti-inflammatory qualities that make CBD oil a popular choice for arthritis may also contribute to improving your bones’ density.
Although most studies in this subject have been conducted on animal models, I encourage you to use every natural resource if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Additionally, you may add resistance exercise to your daily routine, as it also decreases TNFα concentrations.
7. Sleep Deprivation
Many peri- and post-menopausal women experience trouble sleeping. Sleep deprivation can take a serious toll on your health, triggering fatigue and a whole array of other health conditions.
Menopause disrupts sleep on many levels, mainly through increased anxiety and night sweats.
Before you can troubleshoot the best solutions for decreased sleep quality, you’ll need to identify the biggest obstacles between you and a good night’s rest.
In addition to its anti-anxiety properties, CBD can help the user regulate their sleep-wake cycle when it gets disturbed.
CBD helps us remain in the deep stage of sleep for longer — and reduces the time we stay in the REM stage, resulting in restorative sleep (11).
8. Memory Loss
The hippocampus — the brain area responsible for memory, emotion, and learning — is a key component of memory in the human brain. Estrogen and progesterone stimulate the production of neurons in the hippocampus to create new connections, and without these hormones, our memory might suffer.
Scientists are actively researching the benefits of CBD for improving synaptic plasticity and memory loss, specifically in the hippocampus (12). The initial results are promising, to say the list, but we still need more solid evidence to further prove these findings.
Nevertheless, you can use CBD oil along with other ways to protect this region of the brain, such as exercise, spending time with others, avoiding alcohol, cultivating your sex life, and getting restful sleep.
Things to Keep in Mind When Buying CBD Oil for Menopause
Not all CBD oils are created equal. In fact, there’s a large scope of difference when it comes to the quality of different CBD products.
If using this supplement for menopause and its many symptoms, it’s important to aim at the highest quality possible, and preferably in a moderate to high potency.
Here’s what you need to consider when buying CBD oil for menopause:
The source of hemp used in your CBD oil is of paramount importance because it tells you a lot about the quality of the extract.
Hemp acts as a bioaccumulator, meaning it absorbs everything from the soil it’s grown in. By this token, hemp grown in poor soil will result in a poor-quality CBD oil. Not only will such products contain low levels of CBD, but they will also be contaminated with all the pollutants living in that soil.
On the other hand, organically grown hemp plants will yield potent extracts without harmful contamination. Thus, I encourage you to buy CBD oil from manufacturers who get their hemp from domestic farmers and use organic practices.
The extraction method used in the manufacturing of your CBD oil is another make-or-break factor when it comes to its potency and purity.
Reputable companies use CO2 extraction, as it leaves them with a clean and potent product. CO2-extracted oils come in a beautiful amber-gold color, which is an indicator of their high quality.
CBD tinctures, which are a bit different than regular oil drops, use high-proof alcohol to strip the valuable cannabinoids and nutrients from hemp. But when a company uses butane, propane, and other harsh solvents for extraction, it’s best to steer clear of their products.
Cannabinoid Spectrum (Full Spectrum vs. Isolate)
For menopause, I’d recommend using full-spectrum extracts because they contain all the natural compounds from hemp. These molecules create unique synergy and are more effective together than in isolation.
That’s why, in my opinion, full-spectrum CBD oil is superior to CBD isolate. Of course, the latter carries the highest dose of CBD per serving, but unlike full-spectrum extracts, it may lose efficacy beyond certain dosage, which scientists refer to as a “bell-shaped response.”
CBD comes in various potencies, starting from 100mg to even 5000mg per bottle. Your ideal potency will depend on several factors, such as your body weight, metabolism, the severity of your condition, and previous experience with CBD supplements.
If your menopause symptoms are mild and you’ve never taken CBD before, then it’s better to start low and slow. I would go with low-to-moderate potencies such as 250mg for starters.
But on the other hand, if your symptoms negatively impact your everyday performance, you can go with higher dosages. However, keep in mind that larger amounts of CBD can induce sedation and make you feel a bit dizzy due to lowered blood pressure.
When taking any medication, make sure you consult with your doctor prior to taking any CBD product. Cannabidiol interacts with a wide range of drugs and can lead to their increased concentrations in your system.
CBD companies have the option to send their extracts for a thorough analysis to a third-party laboratory.
These laboratories generated by an independent company test for the product’s cannabinoid content and its purity grade. As CBD becomes popular these days, many new manufacturers and products are out in the market now and then. Unfortunately, there are no quality controls for CBD products, thus making it hard to distinguish poor quality products from the finest ones. For this, users need to find and read these third-lab test results from manufacturers before buying any product for their safe consumption.
Lab reports allow the user to verify if the label claims are based on facts and thus should be clearly displayed on your vendor’s website in a dedicated section. If you can’t find them there, don’t panic; try to contact the brand via email or any other channel.
Find me a company that says their products are low-quality and I’ll get you supplied with premium CBD oil for life.
Every CBD brand out there brags about the quality of its products, and there’s one simple way to see if they’re telling the truth
Do some research and read online reviews from verified users before you decide to spend your money on CBD oil.
Make sure to check with different sources for more objective information. Some companies boast 5-star reviews on their website, while third-party sources like Amazon hammer their products with lots of poor opinions.
Summarizing the Benefits of CBD for Menopause
As you begin to experience the first menopause symptoms, it’s an important time to monitor the changes happening within your body and life. By understanding the causes of these symptoms, you will be able to find the best solutions for alleviating them.
I hope this article will help you in this endeavor and contribute to a well-informed CBD oil purchase.
Do you take CBD oil for menopause? Have you noticed any improvements in your symptoms? Share your stories with me!
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- Makara-Studzińśka, M. T., Kryś-Noszczyk, K. M., & Jakiel, G. (2014). Epidemiology of the symptoms of menopause – an intercontinental review. Przeglad menopauzalny = Menopause review, 13(3), 203–211.
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Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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