Some women say cannabis can help manage menopausal symptoms


New research shows that to relieve hot flashes, sleep problems and low libido, some menopausal women choose to seek relief from cannabis, usually in the form of a joint or edible.

The study, a survey of premenopausal or postmenopausal women, sought to collect data on how women use cannabis to treat menopausal symptoms. The Analytics, published by Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society in August, included responses from 258 participants, more than 80 percent of whom had a history of regular cannabis use. While the survey was not a representative sample, it does provide insights into how some women may use cannabis to relieve menopausal symptoms.

The top three symptoms that participants said eased their cannabis use were sleep problems, mood disturbances or anxiety, and decreased libido. Respondents also used the drug to relieve hot flashes, night sweats, body aches, vaginal dryness and pain, and to increase pleasure during sex. Some women took medicinal cannabis while others used recreational forms. They reported smoking and food use as the most common form of use for self-treatment of menopausal symptoms.

“These are notable targets for future clinical trials,” said study author Staci. GruberD., director of the Marijuana Investigations Program for Neuroscience Discovery at McLean Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “How can the data inform our next steps to improve treatment options for individuals with these symptoms?”

The number of medical cannabis registrations in the United States quadrupled from 2016 to 2020

The study did not look at the rate of use, the dose, or whether the women had tried other treatments. Another limitation is that most participants already have a history of drug use, so the results may not apply to women who have not used cannabis before.

One of the reasons cannabis has been so successful for these women, Gruber said, is that substances in cannabis can mimic a chemical compound, anandamide, produced by the ovaries whose production decreases during menopause.

Anandamide is a component of endocannabinoids, which are molecules produced by the body that are structurally similar to cannabisSubstances found in the cannabis plant. Endocannabinoids are part of the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates functions such as emotional processing, sleep, and temperature control. It is also known to affect female reproductive system. For example, anandamide levels have been shown to correlate with estrogen levels, which decrease during perimenopause and trigger an attack. symptoms.

Dr. Javier Mejia Gómez, a gynecological oncologist at the Mature and Menopausal Women’s Health Clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, has noticed an increase in patients using cannabis to control their symptoms in recent years. The trend prompted him to search for published research on the subject, but he found very little. Of the 564 studies reporting menopause and cannabis he initially reviewed, only three ended up making the cut for it. systematic review. The rest were either animal studies, which were of poor quality, or did not directly investigate the effect of cannabis on menopausal symptoms.

“Because of the lack of evidence-based research and medication on this topic, it is difficult for us to accurately advise our patients on the use of cannabis to manage their menopausal symptoms,” Mejia Gomez said.

Vanessa Fletton, 53And the She said she’s found solace in a wave of debilitating menopause and menopausal symptoms like sleep problems, body aches, anxiety and brain fog with an unexpected and unproven treatment. “Medical marijuana is so much better than anything else I’ve tried for menopause,” she said.

Hormone therapy is the most effective treatment for reducing or eliminating menopausal symptoms. But treatment, which can include estrogen alone or estrogen along with a progestin, comes with an increased risk of blood clots, stroke and breast cancer. One antidepressant, paroxetine, has also been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat hot flashes.

But many women don’t want to use hormones or take antidepressants. Some try unproven treatments such as over-the-counter supplements, herbal remedies, chiropractic interventions, and acupuncture.

Nola Blackburn, 49, said she doesn’t want to use hormones, so she takes cannabis in pill form daily to treat menopausal symptoms. “I find I sleep better and have fewer nightmares due to anxiety caused by hormonal fluctuations,” said Blackburn, of West Kelowna, British Columbia.

Ilse Blommers, 53, who lives in Bangkok, eats half a hemp brownie before going to bed. Her period started four years ago and resulted in night sweats that would wake her up at 3 AM. I decided to try cannabis. “I sleep like a baby,” Bloomers said. “My back pain and mood swings are much better.”

Experts warn that women interested in cannabis due to their menopause-related symptoms should start with caution. Stephanie said rigorous clinical trials are needed to prove its efficacy and safety Faubiondirector of the Mayo Clinic Center for Women’s Health.

“Everyone is jumping on the cannabis bandwagon, and I think we need to step back a bit,” said Faubion, who was not involved in the study. “There is no evidence that it works or that it is safe, so caution should be exercised.”

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