CBD Oil has useful benefits for women’s health. Read to find out how it can help with PMS, hormonal balance, menopause, stress, anxiety, mood, sleep and more. > Dr. Sarah Lichenstein is leading a study on how CBD may affect behavior and the brain to determine how it affects women and if it affects women and men
The Benefits of CBD Oil for Women’s Health
Women multitask like it’s an Olympic sport. We’re all trying to find a comfortable balance in our lives, whether we’re juggling home and work or focusing on our personal lives and health. Ideally, we’d love to be eating home-cooked, organic superfoods and rocking the look of the season, while maintaining our daily yoga and meditation practice.
We’ve set the bar pretty high, so it’s no wonder that sometimes our nerves get a little frayed. That’s where CBD oil comes in. Read on to discover what CBD oil is, and how it can help women support the healthiest and happiest versions of themselves.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid found in the buds (or flowers) of cannabis plants. Once extracted, it can be made into CBD oil, tinctures, softgels, creams, balms and much more. Unlike the weed you might have encountered in your college days, CBD does not have any intoxicating effect. Most CBD oils sold in the United States are extracted from hemp — a member of the cannabis family that is naturally high in CBD, but low in THC. In order to be sold legally, your CBD oil should include no more than 0.3% THC (the cannabinoid that gets you high).
CBD Oil Benefits for Women
So, why has there been such a media frenzy about CBD oil? It began with the amazing stories of children with treatment-resistant epilepsy whose seizures were reduced to almost zero after taking CBD oil.
Since then, hundreds of scientific studies have been underway investigating CBD’s therapeutic potential. So far, most of the research has been at the preclinical stage, meaning the studies are conducted on cell cultures and animal models.
Little by little, more studies are taking place on humans, which have begun to confirm many of the findings from the preclinical trials.
The Endocannabinoid System
What’s becoming increasingly clear is that CBD has therapeutic potential for a host of health conditions. Integral to these benefits is the relationship CBD shares with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) which was found during research into how the cannabis plant affects the body.
Scientists discovered the ECS is constantly working to regulate every biological action including sleep, appetite, the immune system, energy levels, reproduction and memory. CBD helps to increase levels of one of the key endocannabinoids in the body (anandamide) which can become depleted through stress, poor diet, alcohol, and lack of sleep. It also activates non-ECS receptors related to mood, discomfort, body temperature and bone density.
This means that the potential health benefits of CBD are vast and wide ranging. And what’s more? Initial studies show that women may be greater affected by cannabis and cannabinoids than men.
Next, we’ll explore just a few of the benefits of CBD oil for women.
CBD For PMS and Hormonal Imbalances
No matter what age you’ve reached in this thing called life, achieving hormonal balance seems to be an impossible task, particularly for women. While there are no conclusive scientific studies to say that CBD helps PMS and other hormone-related conditions, we do know that it can alleviate some of their symptoms.
Thanks to CBD’s activation of the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, anxiety and stress levels associated with the menstrual cycle are typically reduced. CBD also has other properties which come in handy for period cramps such as regulating production of cortisol, which is one of the main stress hormones.
CBD For Menopause
CBD’s ability to help reduce the experience of anxiety also makes it a useful tool for weathering the choppy waters of menopause. Aside from help with the emotional components, it also has practical physical applications as well. The most important benefit could come in preventing osteoporosis, the thinning of bones that can happen with the hormonal changes after menopause. Studies show that CBD may help improve bone strength and speed up the healing process after fractures.
CBD For Sleep
Finding ways to calm our nervous system like meditation, yoga or relaxation techniques can help, but so can diet and the supplements we take. According to a recent study, people report improved sleep when taking CBD oil on a regular basis.
But it’s important to remember that depending on the CBD dosage you take, it can have opposite effects when it comes to sleep. Evidence suggests that at low doses, CBD can create a more wakeful state, while higher doses can make people feel drowsy. Either way, as a rule of thumb, it’s not advisable to take CBD oil just before bedtime until you know how your body reacts.
CBD for Mood
One of the most common reasons people take CBD is to help improve their mood. Scientists know that CBD activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor responsible for regulating mood and anxiety. Studies also show that CBD can cause neurogenesis, the creation of new brain cells, which is essentially helping the brain to find new ways of thinking and operating. There have been a number of small pilot studies on subjects with social anxiety, who were given CBD before performing a simulated public speaking test. Most found that CBD helped them feel less anxious and more clear-headed when performing the task.
CBD for Autoimmune Conditions
Autoimmune conditions affect approximately 24 million people in the United States. Autoimmune conditions are a collection of illnesses where the immune system, rather than fighting off external threats, starts to attack our own bodies. Types of autoimmune conditions include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Diabetes type 1. Common symptoms include chronic and often debilitating discomfort, inflammation, and extreme exhaustion. There are studies like this one and this one that suggest that CBD may have a positive effect on regulating immune responses in the body.
Using CBD For Women’s Health
There are a number of ways to utilize CBD oil that can improve your physical, mental, spiritual and
emotional health. There is still a long way to go with approved research and studies — however, new information continues to emerge that paints a better picture of how CBD can be useful. Incorporating it into your lifestyle can boost your mood, improve symptoms and even help you rest better. It’s all about how it makes sense for you.
Interested in learning if CBD is right for you? Take our quiz to learn how you can incorporate CBD products into your routine.
How Does CBD Affect Women? WHRY Fills Gaps in the Science of an Exploding Market
WHRY is launching a study on how CBD may affect behavior and the brain to determine how it affects women and if it affects women and men differently.
Google the three-letter acronym “CBD,” and you will receive 177 million results. For comparison, a search for “FBI” produces 213 million hits, “IBM,” 305 million, and “FDR,” just 51.3 million. Do you know what CBD is? More important, do you know what it does?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a seemingly non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant, as opposed to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component responsible for the drug’s euphoric effect.
CBD is the main active ingredient in a growing category of products sold in all 50 states with little regulation. The substance can be found in nasal sprays, food supplement powders, skin patches, suppositories, capsules, chocolates, coffee, beer, gummies, lollipops, macaroni and cheese, hummus, honey, jelly beans, cereal, gum, popcorn, peanut butter, massage oil, lotions, face masks, deodorant, pet treats, and bath bombs.
In 2019, more than 64 million Americans reported trying CBD, the majority of whom are female.
Manufacturers of these products have claimed they can help alleviate anxiety and pain, promote sleep, and treat depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more. But there is little research to support these claims or the safety of regularly using such products over time. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only approved the use of CBD to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy.
Now, with a grant from Women’s Health Research at Yale, Dr. Sarah Lichenstein is leading a study on how CBD may affect behavior and the brain to determine how it affects women and if it affects women and men differently.
“The majority of research on the neurological effects of CBD in healthy adults derives from a single small study conducted entirely on men,” said Lichenstein, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. “If we are to make sure these products are safe and effective — and, if so, determine correct dosing — it is important to complement what has been done in men to understand how CBD affects the brain in women.”
In collaboration with Drs. Sarah Yip and Ayana Jordan, Dr. Lichenstein is focusing on CBD’s potential to treat anxiety disorders, the most common reason cited by CBD users for their interest in these products and a condition that is twice as prevalent among women than men. One in three women will meet the criteria for an anxiety or related disorder in their lifetime. In addition to direct negative impact on well-being, these disorders increase the risk of other significant harmful effects, including interpersonal difficulties, major depression, and suicide, as well as higher health care costs and higher rates of unemployment.
“We know that other substances used by women to manage anxiety, such as tobacco smoking, were once portrayed as non-addictive,” said WHRY Director Carolyn M. Mazure, Ph.D. “Yet smoking is in fact addictive and harder to quit for women compared to men.”
Currently, the most common medical treatment for anxiety disorders are benzodiazepines, medications which are twice as likely to be prescribed to women as men. These medications have been associated with a significant risk of abuse and fatal overdose when combined with alcohol or opioids.
“CBD presents a potentially promising alternative to benzodiazepines for treating anxiety, but there is a huge mismatch between the way these products are being marketed and the state of the science,” Lichenstein said. “We need to know much more about what CBD is doing, how it might operate in women, and if this is different in women and men — particularly as millions of Americans are already using it.”
Needed Research on CBD, Behavior, the Brain, and Women
Dr. Lichenstein’s study seeks to determine brain mechanisms behind how CBD affects the behavior of women, building on currently limited evidence showing that a single dose of CBD affects functional brain responses in healthy men and evidence that sex may influence how cannabis and its constituent compounds affect these responses.
“Most of what we know about how CBD acts on the brain comes from research on animals,” Lichenstein said. “There is evidence it acts on many different neural systems through diverse mechanisms of action, which makes it interesting to study. But also hard to pin down.”
Study participants will take either the FDA-approved CBD oral solution known commercially as Epidiolex or a similarly appearing and tasting but inert placebo. They will then undergo tasks proven to reliably induce low levels of stress in most healthy individuals while inside of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. Researchers will gather data on self-reported measures of anxiety and subjective and physiological effects following the administration of CBD or the placebo while observing and recording activation of the insula and amygdala, areas of the brain associated with stress and anxiety.
Crucially, all participants will be female, providing necessary data to compare with existing male data and to prepare applications for additional external funding for a larger study that can directly compare the effect of CBD on women and men.
Dr. Lichenstein anticipates that CBD’s effects on the insula and amygdala — and associated reduction in perceived anxiety — could be greater in women than in men.
“Women seem to have more exposure from the same dose of CBD,” Lichenstein said. “Preliminary data suggest that women reach peak concentrations more quickly and reach higher concentrations than men.”
However, it is also possible that greater exposure among women could interfere with CBD’s effects on anxiety based on preclinical studies suggesting that neurobiological channels may block the effects of CBD at higher doses and are modulated by the female sex hormone estradiol.
“If there is a point at which higher doses trigger a neurobiological mechanism that blocks the anti-anxiety effects of CBD, that could very likely lead to different effects for women and men,” Lichenstein said.
Such differences, if found in the brain and through an observed effect on anxiety reduction, would indicate the need to establish sex-specific dosing recommendations for CBD.
“We don’t know if or where a dosing cutoff exists for humans in terms of safety or reducing anxiety,” Lichenstein said. “We need research in people with anxiety disorders and research on dosing over long periods of time. But first, we need to take this initial, essential step toward understanding what exactly happens to the behavior and in the brains of women when using this popular but largely unexamined substance.”