The growing number of purported health benefits of medicinal cannabis, along with its use by such world-famous superstars as Jennifer Aniston and Kim Kardashian, has led to its global popularity and recognition as a promising substitute for some medications. The stream of new studies into how this natural compound can improve health and wellness was one of the primary driving factors for its massive adoption resulting in the fact that the market for medicinal cannabis-based products is projected to reach the mark of $16bn in the US by 2025.
According to Dr. Dani Gordon, a medicinal doctor and author of The CBD Bible, there is a wide list of benefits of CBD or cannabidiol – the main compound in medicinal cannabis. Besides CBD benefits for sleep and relaxation that are most well-known due to the massive advertising campaigns, this compound is also scientifically proved to be effective in pain relief, mental health improvement, heart health, and antipsychotic effects. Cannabidiol also has potent neuroprotective benefits, can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and help with arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and increased blood pressure.
Growing clinical research has begun investigating the main reasons why more and more women are starting to use cannabinoids to treat different symptoms and conditions. According to one study published in the Journal of Women’s Health, women have begun more actively using medicinal cannabis to treat chronic conditions and alleviate pain and are more likely to substitute prescribed medications and painkillers for CBD than men. As women more often use preventative or alternative health options to treat pain or other conditions than men, the legalisation of medicinal cannabis has placed this plant in its newfound focus. Let’s check what CBD is, how it works, and how it can benefit our health.
What Is CBD, And Is It Beneficial For Health?
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant, which was first used medicinally in Central Asia around 750 BC. This chemical became popular not so long ago and lived for a long time under the spotlight of its sibling – THC, which is another famous cannabis compound well-known worldwide for its psychoactive properties. To date, cannabis comes with varying levels of legality around the world. For example, in the US, according to federal law, CBD can contain a maximum of 0.3% THC, whereas, for medical cannabis UK the limit is 0.2% THC.
Cannabidiol is considered a promising healthy supplement, providing a wide range of health effects by interacting with the receptors of our endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids are chemicals produced by the body. Along with cannabinoids like CBD, these chemicals activate cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body, which are linked to various physiological processes such as pain, pleasure, memory, sleep, appetite, mood, fertility and pregnancy. For the moment, there are different ways to take advantage of these benefits. CBD oil remains one of the most popular forms, where it is applied under the tongue before swallowing, although other methods of CBD ingestion like CBD gummies, vapes and capsules are also gaining popularity among users.
It was found that women readily integrate cannabis as part of their health and wellness regimen and are twice as likely to favour tincture CBD products than men. In fact, women use lower-dose edibles and cannabidiol-dominant products 42% more than men. Cannabis is an effective and rapidly developing alternative treatment option, and many women are looking for it as a part of their treatment, but the most crucial question here is what conditions and symptoms do women find most relief in treating? Let’s look at what research says.
Top Benefits of CBD for Women
Endometriosis is a condition that has a range of unwanted effects on the body and mind. It is one of the most underdiagnosed diseases in many countries and comes with such symptoms as severe cramping and physical pain, nausea, anxiety and insomnia. Many women are turning to cannabis to manage the symptoms of this condition. Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the major organs, including the reproductive system, and while interacting with these receptors, phytocannabinoids like CBD have the ability to lower inflammation and decrease pain response. CBD treatment for patients with endometriosis allows them to sleep better and get pain relief. Medicinal cannabis can also treat nausea and anxiety, which are common symptoms of endometriosis.
Pharmaceuticals are often prescribed to women to treat endometriosis, although cannabis provides an alternative approach with much fewer side effects compared to traditional medications. Moreover, since endometriosis has a wide range of symptoms that reinforce each other and act cyclically, CBD can also treat them, providing complete relief.
The most common symptoms of PMS and menstruation include migraines, cramping, mood changes, and nausea. Cannabis is well-known for its ability to provide anti-nausea, pain-relieving and mood-stabilising effects and is commonly used by women to relieve PMS and menstruation symptoms. During menstrual cramps, pain is caused by the inflammation of the uterine lining at specific points. CBD has properties that may help to regulate this inflammation and provide pain relief. Health experts recommend starting taking CBD oil a week before the period is due to begin, and then, on the day it starts, mix a couple of cannabidiol oil drops with a teaspoon of shea butter or coconut oil and massage it in circular motions on the abdomen and in a ‘V’ shape downwards.
Anxiety And Stress
Cannabis was initially known as a natural agent to alleviate anxiety and stress, and then, with the process of time, this compound began to reveal its other health effects. Taking CBD oil to reduce anxiety and stress can provide similar effects to well-known medications like Xanax, but the main benefit of medicinal cannabis is that it does not impair cognition, dizziness, drowsiness, loss of strength or confusion as traditional pharmaceuticals.
CBD provides its anti-anxiety effects by increasing serotonin levels, which also makes it helpful for such conditions as panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder. According to the results of one of the studies, nearly 80% of people’s anxiety improved within one month.
Sleep And Sex
Insomnia is a condition that can occur on its own or be a symptom of certain underlying conditions. When the body doesn’t have a chance to recover through sleep, it can create a vicious cycle of worsening symptoms. Consistently having trouble falling asleep or experiencing poor-quality sleep can result in numerous health problems like cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and cognitive issues like brain fog.
Regular CBD use provides relaxing effects and helps regulate circadian rhythms, promoting a more regular sleep schedule. Another CBD benefit for bedroom time is the ability of this cannabinoid to help you get in the mood and relax if you have sexual anxiety. In addition, the female reproductive system has a cannabinoid receptor called TRPA1, located in the clitoris. When CBD activates this receptor, an increase in nitric oxide occurs, which in turn causes an increase in blood flow and enhanced sensitivity.
Menopause stages are something all women go through at some point in their lives. While perimenopause usually begins in the mid-40s, the average age of menopause is 51. To date, CBD is widely becoming discussed as a treatment for the symptoms of both these conditions. Based on the results of the survey, the most common menopause-related issues are:
- Trouble sleeping;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Muscle and joint aches.
Out of more than 1500 women participating in studies investigating the effects of CBD oil on menopause issues, almost 74% found symptom relief. Cannabidiol can improve sleep, reduce anxiety and irritability, and improve concentration and focus. It can also reduce inflammation in muscles and joints, providing pain relief and being an excellent substitute for traditional prescription medications.
According to statistics, chronic pain affects more than 50 million people in the US and up to 28 million in the UK. A 2018 review published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews conducted to investigate the cannabidiol effects on chronic pain have demonstrated that cannabis-based medicines could relieve pain. CBD has shown its effectiveness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis – a condition predominantly affecting women that causes pain, stiffness, and tenderness in joints. Cannabidiol directly affects the endocannabinoid system in the brain, which enhances the effects of chemicals like serotonin and anandamide to reduce pain perception. Another 2005 study published in the Rheumatology journal found that a CBD-based medication Sativex provided patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis with significant improvements to their quality of sleep and pain relief while moving and resting.
Women make up 80-90% of fibromyalgia patients. The initial cause of this condition remains unknown, which significantly complicates its treatment, leading to patients needing specifically-tailored therapy for their specific situation. Pain is considered one of the most common fibromyalgia symptoms, and its source and intensity are often different for each person. Other symptoms of this condition include sleep issues, fatigue, concentration and gastrointestinal problems.
Many patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia report benefits from medical cannabis use, while the research confirms the effects of this natural treatment on the scientific level. A 2021 study published in the Journal of Women’s Health revealed that cannabis could potentially alleviate common symptoms of this condition as chronic pain, nerve pain, insomnia, nausea and mood swings.
All the conditions we’ve reviewed in our article have overlapping symptoms, and it explains why medical cannabis can bring significant benefits for all of them, helping in so many varying situations. The receptors of our endocannabinoid system are located throughout the body, and cannabinoids like CBD can interact with all of them, helping to manage a wide range of symptoms such as pain response, mood and sleep.
CBD remains one of the best natural treatments for women’s health as it is often well-tolerated, with much fewer side effects compared to other medications. Adverse effects like diarrhoea, appetite changes, weight gain/loss and fatigue have been reported in some studies investigating CBD treatment. Whether you have used cannabis before or not, it is highly recommended to consult a doctor and develop a personalised treatment plan that fits your needs.