Health & Wellness

The Complete Guide to Women’s Health & CBD Oil

By Aimee McNew
Emma Simpson/Unsplash

CBD oil, short for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana. While cannabis has been well-studied for certain women’s health issues, like period pain, CBD oil is newer on the market and is less backed by research.

Still, CBD oil shows promise for numerous women’s health issues or health challenges that affect a high percentage of women. Here are the top ways that CBD oil is changing the natural health movement when it comes to women.

Period Pain & PMS

Research on CBD oil’s effect on PMS is lacking, but there are plenty of studies showing that cannabis can help address period-related pain, including a current study evaluating the effects of medical cannabis on menstrual discomfort.

Internet resources abound, however, claiming CBD oil’s relief benefits for PMS, cramps, back pain, and more. What research does show is that CBD oil is effective at addressing problems that are often associated with PMS or hormone imbalances, like anxiety and depression. Does this automatically mean that CBD oil will provide relief for every women experiencing PMS symptoms? Probably not.

However, CBD oil shows potential for more than just mood relief, since it’s also been shown to address pain by blocking compounds that are associated with pain sensations. This could translate to an ability to help alleviate pain from period cramps and low back pain often associated with that time of the month, though more research is needed to prove whether or not it’s effective for this specific reason.

Menopause

Menopause is another major reason why women start using CBD oil. Typical symptoms include hot flashes, reduced sex drive, sleep disturbances, night sweats, and mood disorders, along with an increased risk for developing osteoporosis. Symptoms can worsen in severity and last for years, with medical treatments, like hormone replacement therapy and other pharmaceuticals, sometimes falling short at addressing them.

CBD oil helps relieve symptoms of menopause in some women by way of the endocannabinoid system: a network of cells and receptors in the brain, organs, and other body tissues that send chemical messages throughout the body. This system gets disrupted by things like menopause, hormone imbalances, and other chemical problems (like neurotransmitter issues), but cannabidiol might be able to provide relief by balancing the communication and responses of the endocannabinoid system.

More research is needed to fully understand the mechanism, but the endocannabinoid system is involved in sexual arousal in women, as well as bone health, which is another major menopause-related health concern. While specific research is lacking in the exact ways that CBD oil can improve menopause, many women claim relief from things like hot flashes, mood disorders, anxiety, and insomnia. CBD oil can even help to decreases losses in bone density.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition involving uterine tissue that grows abnormally. It can result in pain throughout the menstrual cycle, heavy periods, and reproductive problems. CBD oil is reported to be helpful by many patients with endometriosis, particularly in being effective for reducing pain from the condition. More research and organizes studies are needed to understand how CBD oil might affect the condition, which has roots in inflammation and autoimmunity.

Anxiety

Anxiety is far from a women’s-only health issue, but it does impact more women (as much as 24 percent) than men. It’s also commonly seen in women’s health disorders like postpartum depression, PMS, menopause, and other hormone-related imbalances. CBD oil works to improve anxiety by decreasing activity in areas of the brain that are stimulated in response to anxiety triggers.

Inflammation, Pain, & Arthritis

Inflammation is associated with many conditions, including those that are associated with pain and/or arthritis. While men and women both suffer from arthritis, it affects women in a 3:1 ratio compared to men, with women also having a higher intensity of symptoms and pain. In animal studies, CBD oil has been shown to reduce inflammation associated with arthritis, as well as pain-related behaviors.

Hair & Skin

CBD oil shows promise as an anti-inflammatory treatment option for acne, one that would come without the hefty dose of dangerous side effects like those associated with prescription acne medications. CBD oil also shows promise for treating rarer and more serious skin conditions, thanks to its ability to promote wound healing and to decrease inflammation in the surface of the skin. It’s also being used in some upscale salons as a scalp treatment, although research doesn’t show how it might benefit hair directly.

When Women Shouldn’t Use CBD Oil

While CBD oil has a wide variety of promising uses for women’s health, that doesn’t mean it’s good for all women. You should always check with your doctor before adding supplements into your lifestyle since even those that seem harmless might interact with other supplements, medications, or health conditions.

CBD oil is known, however, to cause a few issues that warrant caution in women.

Fertility: CBD oil itself hasn’t been studied for its effects on fertility, but cannabis and THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana are known for their abilities to suppress ovulation and implantation, thereby reducing fertility. CBD oil may have similar properties, so caution is warranted.

Pregnancy/Breastfeeding: Most supplements on the market aren’t considered safe for pregnancy largely because they’re not studied—most researchers consider it unethical to study supplements and medications on pregnant women in the event that negative or harmful effects are identified. Caution is also warranted for women who are breastfeeding.

Side effects: CBD oil has a few side effects that are mild, but which might exacerbate conditions in those who already have symptoms. Side effects can range from fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and fluctuations in weight, but might worsen gut problems, IBD, or other fatigue-related issues. Check with your doctor if you want to try CBD oil but have any of these existing problems.

Quality: Be sure to purchase CBD oil from a reputable source, as research shows that as many as 70 percent of CBD oil products sold online could be mislabeled. Not all products are created equal, and the FDA doesn’t regulate CBD oil or other supplement products, so be sure to find independent sources to make informed decisions about purchases. Consumer Reports has some unbiased resources for those new to the CBD oil industry.

Bottom Line

CBD oil shows promise for many women’s health issues, but more research is needed before it can be definitively understood. Work with your doctor to determine how it might best meet your needs, and remember: not everything you read on the internet is true. Check sources on claims made about CBD oil and other supplements before diving in.

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