International Women's Day | Cannabis & Women's Health
WRITTEN BY SHALINI RANA AND DR. SWATHI
Ladies, it’s not easy for many of us out there. Whether you’re dealing with work, school, relationships, family problems, etc., it may feel like a new problem pops up right when you’ve solved the last. And on top of all that, we have to make time to keep up with our physical and mental well-being, too. But staying healthy can be a challenge, especially when it comes to dealing with certain health issues.
In the U.S., women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with mental health conditions than men, and this increases the risk of a multitude of other illnesses . Not to mention, the many symptoms that come with menstruation and menopause just make us want to curl up in bed and never get up. Despite the various treatments that exist for these conditions, they may not offer complete relief, and you may feel like you need to try something different to get back to your usual happy, energized, and motivated self.
Luckily, if you’re looking for a possible solution, you’ve come across the right article. One treatment option that is growing in popularity and that many women are turning to for relief of various health issues is cannabis . With the growing research being done on its effects, cannabis has many benefits that can aid in some of the issues that women commonly face. Let’s take a deeper dive into how cannabis may boost your physical and mental health.
Good mental health is really important. It shapes the choices we make and can impact our overall wellness. When life throws curveballs our way, a healthy mental state can really come in handy to help us react to situations in healthy ways. Traditional methods of improving mental health include exercise, meditation, and yoga, but a potential addition to this list that you may want to consider is cannabis. Cannabis may help to calm negative feelings, and this ability may be largely in part due to a component in the plant called cannabidiol (CBD). Studies show that CBD can help ease stress, nervousness, and fear . Additionally, it may help protect against the negative side effects of chronic stress, such as blood pressure or heart problems . Due to its ability to mimic serotonin (the hormone that boosts mood), CBD can allow for a more relaxed mind in people that are typically anxious or stressed. And, since women are more affected than men when it comes to disorders that negatively affect mood , cannabis may be a good option to boost mental health.
Over one third of adults do not meet the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night . Many studies have been done to determine the effects of cannabis on sleep, and there are mixed results. A retrospective study done in adults ranging from 18 to 72 years old aimed to determine the effects of CBD on sleep, and the results show that sleep did improve during the first month in 66.7% of patients (however, these results were not sustained) . Another study shows that positive sleep effects may be due to younger age rather than cannabis itself . However, several surveys have shown that many women who have trouble sleeping due to the inability to turn their brain off had improvements in sleep and longer periods of uninterrupted sleep due to taking cannabis . Therefore, if other sleep-aids aren’t working, cannabis may be one option to try out.
Perimenopause & Menopause
More and more women experiencing perimenopause and menopause are turning to cannabis for the relief of symptoms associated with this stage of life, including hot flashes, mood changes, and sleeping problems . In a study conducted by Harvard in small groups of cannabis users (mostly Caucasian and middle class participants) who were experiencing either perimenopause or post-menopause, 79% of women said they used cannabis to relive menopause-related symptoms, 67% said it improved their sleep, and 46% said it helped stabilize their mood. However, more research is needed in controlled settings and in a more diverse population to determine whether or not cannabis truly helps relieve symptoms for these conditions . If you want to learn more about cannabis, perimenopause, and menopause, check out this article.
Common symptoms of menstruation include painful cramps, mood changes, and nausea. CBD has been shown to have pain relief, mood stabilizing, and anti-nausea effects that could help during that time of the month . One study conducted an interview with 192 women on the use of cannabis for menstrual symptom relief, and out of the 85% of women who used cannabis for this purpose, 90% of these women said it helped to relieve pain .
Eighty to ninety percent of fibromyalgia patients are women, and the cause of this disorder is largely unknown, so treatment varies from patient to patient. However, its symptoms include fatigue and increased pain sensitivity alongside altered sleep, memory, and mood . Cannabis has been shown to potentially play a role in a number of these issues , and a study done in cannabis users showed that severe fibromyalgia was one of the top reasons for cannabis use.
Many components of the cannabis or hemp plants could have benefits in skincare. For example, hemp seed oil may have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe dry and irritable skin. Research also shows that CBD and CBG have antioxidant properties which may help to keep your skin looking young and healthy . To read more about this, check out these articles on CBD, CBG, and skincare.
Risks of CBD Use
Although cannabis has many beneficial components, there are potential risks that could come with its use. For example, cannabis can pose risks during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In addition, it may exacerbate particular chronic or idiopathic conditions. For more information, please reach out to our co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Swathi, to learn more about whether CBD or cannabis is right for you.
With the many frustrating symptoms that can occur with women’s health issues, it can be difficult to find solutions that provide relief. You may find conventional treatments unsatisfactory or difficult to access. Therefore, with its potential benefits in stress, sleep, mood, pain, and even skincare, cannabis may be an option worth trying out. Ultimately, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to our medical team or another healthcare professional who specializes in cannabis.
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This article was edited by Dr. Swathi and was written by Element Apothec Scientific Communications Intern, Shalini Rana. She is a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) candidate at Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in Piscataway, New Jersey.