CBD seems to be everywhere, but what do we know about it? And can it definitively help with menopause symptoms? Check in with Gennev's Chief Medical Officer Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su, MD for insights. The first medical use of THC allowed by the FDA was the 1985 approval of isolate THC (Marinol) to treat nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. Since then, research has demonstrated numerous possible applications of THC and cannabis in cancer patients, including painkilling, protecting the brain from toxic chemo, and even synergizing with the treatment itself.
Can you tame (or tone down) menopause symptoms with CBD?
Meet Nickie, 49, who has just about had it with her hot flashes and night sweats.
They have increased in intensity and in frequency to the point where she is changing her tops (and her undies) at work at least once a day. She wakes up several times a night with perimenopause night sweats.
She hasn’t had a period in 8 months, walks 2-3 miles each day, and eats pretty well, though it’s tough for her to fit lunch in with the pressure of her new job. Her health overall is really good, but she is missing her sleep and beginning to worry about how little sleep she is getting — especially since she just started this job and is still making first impressions.
Yes, she went to her doctor before she moved across the country. They discussed hormone replacement therapy or HRT for hot flashes as an option, but Nickie doesn’t have the money to cover this therapy, plus she’s a little unnerved by the whole HRT topic and wants to keep her care as natural as possible.
What has she tried? Let’s see, sticking her head in a freezer (minimal and very temporary relief), black cohosh supplements (she is using our black cohosh for hot flashes and it worked a bit for her, but symptoms have lately ramped up after the move).
She also tried chiropractic therapy and acupuncture, which work really well for her asthma and help her to relax but aren’t effective for easing hot flashes or waking up due to night sweats.
Nickie is considering trying a CBD (or cannabidiol) product. This has not been suggested by her doctor, but she’s not sure what else to do. There are lots of dispensaries where she now lives (a recent transplant from Idaho to Maine), and cannabis is both legal and decriminalized, but she is also very new to this topic and is absolutely clear that she doesn’t want to get high while using CBD.
She just wants to get some good sleep. Also, since she has asthma, smoking and vaping are out.
She doesn’t know if CBD will work for her. And she doesn’t really know how to get started.
Boy, do we empathize. Missing sleep and being in a seemingly constant state of “heat surge and sweat” can spark additional discomforts. In addition to not getting enough rest, she is worried and anxious about what her lack of sleep may do to her focus and job performance. And additional sugar or caffeine intake to keep mind and body going at her high-pressure job? Uh oh, stress and more caffeine can speed the vicious symptom cycles too.
Nickie’s not alone in her menopause symptoms, for sure. She’s also not alone in her curiosity around non-high-producing CBD use for better sleep and increased relaxation/decreased anxiety.
News and laws around this topic are changing daily. There are lots of opinions and already, a lot of products to choose from. It’s hard to know where to turn or where to start, so we began with our in-house medical expert.
The medical perspective on CBD and menopause
We checked-in with our Chief Medical Officer, Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su, for her perspective. Here’s what she said:
“CBD products made primarily from hemp seem to have limited harm, but there have been almost no real studies on their effectiveness because of the limits that have been placed on studying it. This is slowly changing as laws ease up. But we really don’t have evidence to support the many health claims made about it. Sleep and pain effects seem to be most likely areas where it works (there are anti-seizure effects in particular syndromes that have been shown).
“In terms of true cannabis/THC-containing products, there are no known medical uses as we have had a complete ban on studying it, and technically it is still a scheduled drug federally. We just genuinely don’t know. People make all sorts of claims but there haven’t been studies. I most commonly see my patients use it (I would note it is “legal” in our state) in place of alcohol to help relax and promote sexual desire and function.”
So, studies have baaarely begun due to the laws that govern the study of both hemp and cannabis products, regardless of the allowances (or disallowances) in each state. More will come, but these take time.
Talking about CBD with your doctor
Women are talking with their doctors about using CBD and THC-containing products. We definitely encourage you to do the same with your medical provider (or talk with ours). And, if your current doctor isn’t up to (or open to) discussing any topic that you want to talk about, consider shopping around for a better, more supportive fit for yourself and your health.
Dr. Rebecca shared, “As an MD, I always want to have an open conversation, it helps me to know what people are using, especially if there could be interactions with medications I might prescribe but also so I can give them safety parameters as best I can. We don’t judge folks on this, we just need to know.
“Also, a lot of the information out there is advertising. I always caution women not to get their health information from the people selling a product. They have no reason to provide balanced or even genuine information.”
There are lots of ways to consume CBD: oils, smoke or vape, tinctures, edibles, and even suppositories, with more options and varieties being developed and released in abundance. We asked Dr Rebecca about this as well:
“I would warn folks away from vaping (it seems the serious lung disease was primarily from bad THC mixed in vitamin E oil) and also smoking, as this long term can do lung damage. Luckily there are a lot of edibles available now. They can be quite strong, so make sure they know how much to start with, especially if naïve.”
Still, if you’re in the same, or similar, boat as Nickie, and are curious about using a CBD product, we’ve got a couple of initial recommendations:
- What’s going on where I live? At the time of this post, it’s legal to ship CBD (no THC) products in and to all 50 states. As more states continue to legalize the use of cannabis, and even, perhaps one day, the federal government, testing and regulation continue to come into play. This will only help you to stay aware as laws, testing, regulation, and availability of products continue to change.
- Talk with your doctor about using CBD products. Give your doctor more insight about you and your journey to your best health. They may be able to share other insights, make better recommendations or suggestions about what they prescribe, or offer alternative therapies during this conversation.
- Read the labels on a few CBD products you are curious about. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to do online. Look specifically for the following:
- Where the hemp (or cannabis) was grown. It should be in an organic field or facility.
- Was it lab tested? Reputable companies will post lab results online, which will state the cannabinoid levels of the bottle or contents that it claims to have. This will also be the place it shares that the product is free of mold, pesticides, and heavy metals.
- Does is state “no THC”? If you’re nervous about THC and/or your employer requires frequent urine tests, make sure the products you review states that there is none.
- Narrow down how you might like to consume or try a product. Tincture or oil? Edible like a gummy, chocolate, or cookie? There are plenty to choose from, so narrowing down may reduce any sense of overwhelm.
- Take notes. Decided to try CBD? Document your experience in a journal or some notes and share these with your doctor as well.
Regardless of what you choose, or don’t choose, we’re here to support you on your path to feeling good in your body, suffering less, and thriving in perimenopause and menopause. More will be forthcoming on this topic, for sure. Stay tuned to Gennev.
Does Nickie’s situation feel familiar? Are you thinking about using (or actively using) CBD products for pain relief, anxiety reduction, or insomnia? We’d love to hear your experience and insights on the Gennev Community forums. You’re absolutely welcome and invited.
THC & Night Sweats
Doctors in California recently presented case reports from five cancer patients who could manage their symptoms by ingesting pure THC.
The first medical use of THC allowed by the FDA was the 1985 approval of isolate THC (Marinol) to treat nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. Since then, research has demonstrated numerous possible applications of THC and cannabis in cancer patients, including painkilling, protecting the brain from toxic chemo, and even synergizing with the treatment itself. Doctors in California recently presented case reports from five cancer patients with night sweats, showing that these individuals could manage their symptoms by ingesting pure THC . Four of the five patients swallowed 5 mg of THC or less at bedtime. After one week, one patient stated, “This is the first time I haven’t been waking up all drenched.”