What impact does marijuana herbal product and its oils have on sex hormones and reproductive functions, as well as on other critical health issues, such as cognition and immune health? Our hormone system is quite complicated and hormonal imbalance is quite common in both men and women. CBD makes for a great natural treatment of hormonal imbalances. Read this useful guide to learn how CBD can positively help balance your hormones!
The Endocannabinoid System and Estrogen
The trend towards the legalization of marijuana and the increasing use of this herbal product and its oils (CBD) for both recreational and therapeutic uses begs a question: What impact does it have on sex hormones and reproductive functions, as well as on other critical health issues, such as cognition and immune health? Cannabis sativa has long been a widely consumed plant recognized for its psychoactive properties and its reported impact on multiple functions, including metabolism, sexual functioning, and motivation. In the 1960’s tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was identified as the primary active component of cannabis, but the site of action was not known until the discovery of the cannabinoid receptor.
The endocannabinoid system is a key physiological system, involved in the foundation of health maintenance. The receptors are found in the brain, in numerous organs, connective tissue, glands, and in immune cells. It has complex actions on the immune system, the nervous system, and in all the organs within the body, and can be viewed as a powerful connection between the body and the mind. The endocannabinoid system literally links the state of physicality and disease to brain functioning. The endocannabinoid system, whether through naturally made endocannabinoids or marijuana and its derivatives, or similar plant-derived cannabis, impacts humans in ways that are immensely complex and challenging.
Marijuana is commonly used and its use by women is rising. Women have been found to be more susceptible to abuse of cannabinoids and the development of dependence, and experience more severe withdrawal symptoms and relapse more often than do men. As well, when women use cannabinoids, they are more impacted, with altered functioning on tasks. In adolescents, females are more likely to be adversely affected than are male adolescents by cannabinoids. Importantly, it is now accepted that estradiol is the hormone that impacts this important sexual dimorphic effect of cannabinoids.
The cannabinoid receptors are now recognized as constituents of a neuro-modulatory system named the endocannabinoid system, which is located throughout the central nervous system and peripherally and is involved in the regulation of many bodily functions as well as behaviors. It is now understood that the gonadal hormones are equally involved in a myriad of physiological functions and behaviors and it has been found that the two systems are intimately interconnected. There are endocannabinoid components present throughout the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG axis) and the potential for there to be damage to its proper functioning exists if the endocannabinoid system is tampered with.
Research is revealing that there exists a bidirectional relationship between the endocannabinoid system and gonadal hormones. If changes to the HPG axis occur, there can be an impact on the functioning of the endocannabinoid system. And the endocannabinoid system is involved in many functions, as mentioned, including sexual behavior, which are of course regulated by gonadal hormones. Clearly there is a complex, bidirectional interaction between the two systems.
It is know recognized that the endocannabinoid system contains two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2 receptors. The ligands for these receptors are anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). The CB1 receptors are in the central nervous system and in some peripheral sites. Within the CNS, they are primarily located within the neurons of the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, amygdala, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, and cerebellum. The CB2 receptors are predominantly found in peripheral tissues and in cells of the immune system.
The CB1 receptors are in the presynaptic neurons on the axon terminals. The endocannabinoids themselves are synthesized and released on demand by the postsynaptic neurons. When the receptors are bonded with the ligand endocannabinoids, the release of additional neurotransmitters by the presynaptic cell is blocked, thereby allowing regulation of neurotransmission of incoming signals. FAAH, fatty acid amide hydrolase, is an enzyme which breakdowns anandamide and monoacylglycerol lipase breakdowns 2- AG, controlling quantities. FAAH is under the control of estradiol.
The endocannabinoid system and estrogens have both direct and indirect interactions. The endocannabinoid system impacts the release of estrogens through the central down-regulation of LH and GnRH. When THC is given, there is a decrease in serum LH, and the pulsatile nature of LH is decreased. When GnRH was given to female rats, the effects of THC were reversed. This is suggestive that as the pituitary gland remains sensitive to stimulation, the impact of cannabinoids is through its effects on central neurotransmission, suppressing LH release. The suppression of LH release by THC has been demonstrated in monkeys and rats. It is complex and variable by brain region and even by synapses, but changes to the function of estrogen do influence central endocannabinoid signaling. There is clearly a complex interrelationship between endocannabinoid activity and estradiol levels. It certainly appears that the use of an exogenous cannabinoid could adversely impact the hormonal cycling and fertility of females.
Here is a summary of what is currently known about the interrelationship of endocannabinoids and estrogen. Central CB1 receptor expression is modulated by estradiol and estradiol also increases anandamide synthesis while decreasing FAAH activity. FAAH is the principle enzyme which degrades the endocannabinoid anandamide. Reductions in this degrading enzyme would, of course, increase the amount of the cannabinoid present. The higher amount of the endocannabinoid present then decreases GnRH release, and this results in less FSH and LH release. The consequence of these gonadotropin decreases is a decrease in the release of estrogen from the ovaries. Estradiol also down-regulates FAAH activity peripherally in both the uterus and in immune cells.
Endocannabinoid activity as well as CB1 receptor function fluctuates throughout the menstrual cycle. In humans, the amount of anandamide circulating is higher during the follicular phase and highest during ovulation, while being lower during the luteal phase. It appears that the endocannabinoid system is significant in the regulation of the menstrual cycle and indeed does play a role in fertility. Various components of the endocannabinoid system have been found in the ovaries and uterus, and levels vary in a set manner during the time of embryo implantation. Data suggests that low anandamide levels are a requirement for implantation and for carrying a pregnancy to term, while high levels of anandamide facilitates the labor process. In fact, it has been found that during pregnancy there are low levels of anandamide present and a surge occurs near the time of labor onset. As well, with increased levels of anandamide or if an agonist of it is given results in early pregnancy, a higher rate of miscarriages in humans is seen.
In rats which were ovariectomized and then given estradiol, there was an increase in the production of anandamide, showing that estradiol has a direct impact on its production as well as regulating its degradation. In summary, though more complex than what will follow, as the two systems have multiple pathways of interconnectivity, it appears that estradiol modulates the receptor activity, the production, and the degradation of the endocannabinoids, both in the CNS and peripherally. In turn, the endocannabinoids downregulate the production of estradiol by decreasing the release of gonadotropins.
Estradiol administration in female rats elicits anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects. Studies show that the impact on emotions which are due to estradiol are elicited through the endocannabinoid system. Research on the emotional and behavioral effects involved in the interplay between the endocannabinoid system and estradiol show that estradiol incorporates the endocannabinoid system in its behavioral effects and can down-regulate FAAH activity in the CNS, thereby increasing the levels of anandamide. Further confirming these findings are studies showing that when a CB1 receptor antagonist was given to rats, the anxiolytic effect of estradiol was blocked, and when a blocker of FAAH (the enzyme which degrades anandamide) was given, and levels of the endocannabinoid rose, and an anxiolytic effect occurred, precisely like that produced by estradiol.
Brain endocannabinoids have been recognized as major modulators of affect, motivation, and emotions, and the emerging connection to estradiol, and the other sex hormones, is only recently emerging and must now be recognized for their great significance in the functioning of this critical body system. We live in a world of endocrine disruptors, including pharmaceuticals which in fact are endocrine disruptors themselves – such as metformin, oral contraceptives, “hormonal” IUDs and implantables – and we should additionally recognize the inevitable and universal impact of menopause on the endocannabinoid system and its impact on women’s emotional regulation.
With the recent recognition of the critical and complex bidirectional effects of the endocannabinoid system and the dominant female hormone – estradiol, and of the impact of marijuana and other cannabinoids, including the heightened susceptibility of women to their effects of dependency – we have entered a new era, a new future filled with many potential opportunities both for the benefit and for the detriment of women. We must now begin our journey with the attainment of a solid knowledge-base of the endocannabinoid system, and an understanding of its complex role in reproductive, emotional, and immune health in women. We are obligated to provide in-depth education for women, to enable them to assess their risk of both the potential for good and for harm from their contraceptive choices, pharmaceuticals used, exposures to endocrine disruptors, and equip them with the ability to make good decisions regarding their use of marijuana for recreational use, as well as appropriate use of medicinal cannabis. And for us, the medical professionals, we will always stay cognizant of the intricate bidirectional systems involving estradiol and the endocannabinoid system, recognizing the interplay of these systems and of their implications for mental wellbeing.
Can CBD Help Balance Hormones?
We’ve all been there. The overwhelm, can’t sleep, hormonal acne, and your emotions are on a never-ending rollercoaster ride. You begin to wonder what is going on and then it dawns you, hormones. Having fluctuating hormones happens to both men and women, but in different ways. This is because we have different endocrine organs and cycles. Nearly every person with female reproductive organs experiences hormone imbalance at some point in their life let alone on a monthly basis. This happens during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy, and menopause but can occur at any time. A few women may even experience continual, irregular imbalances.
Hormonal imbalance occurs when your hormones are not at their optimal levels. As a result, even the smallest imbalance can cause an array of unwanted and unexpected effects. The symptoms of hormone imbalance can vary depending on the glands and hormones that have been affected. Here are some symptoms that may indicate an imbalance:
- Heavy or Irregular periods
- Excessive sweating
- Weight loss or gain
- Mood swings
- Blurred vision
- Hair loss or hair change
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal atrophy
- Pain during sex
- Dry skin
- Acne on the face, chest, or upper back
- Changes in blood pressure or heart rate
Can CBD Help With Hormonal Balance?
Short answer, yes! CBD can help with the balancing of hormones. This wonderfully beneficial cannabinoid can be used to influence hormones like cortisol (the stress hormone), melatonin (the sleep hormone) and lastly but not limited to estogren (your sex hormone). Because of this, CBD makes for a great, natural treatment of hormonal imbalances.
To understand how CBD can positively interact with the endocrine system to help balance hormones, let’s take a look at how it works .
Hormones and CBD
Our bodies are made up of an interconnected network of receptors called theendocannabinoid system (ECS). This system works synergistically with our immune, nervous and endocrine systems and helps regulate key functions in our body such as: stress, mood, sleep, inflammation, pain, metabolism, digestive health, memory, reproduction and last but not least hormones.
Two important kinds of cannabinoid receptors in the ECS are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are found on major glands located throughout the body, and are activated by endocannabinoids. CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system, primarily in the brain and spinal cord, as well as some organs and tissues.
This includes endocrine glands, and parts of the reproductive, gastrointestinal, and urinary tracts. CB2 receptors involve the peripheral nervous system and play an important role in fighting inflammation. They are mostly found in white blood cells, the tonsils, and in the spleen. When phytocannabinoids such as CBD are introduced into our body they supercharge our ECS creating an optimal balance, or homeostasis in all aspects of functional wellness.
CBD, ECS, and the endocrine connection
CBD indirectly interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the ECS. Because the ECS and endocrine system are closely related, it can also alter the synthesis and secretion of hormones. It does this by working as an antagonist of both CB1 and CB2 receptors. This commonly occurs in the hypothalamus where the CB1 receptor is activated.
The interaction creates altered hormones that are sent to other glands, and upon receiving these messages, send out their own hormones as a response. Since CB1 receptors are found on most other glands and organs, this makes it easy to balance the hormones directly within its network.
CBD also has the ability to increase or decrease the volume and strength of a hormonal message. This is because cannabinoids can weaken or lessen receptors’ sensitivity to a certain hormone.
In order to maintain a balance of our hormones, these messengers must be broken down and disposed of once they have completed their task. This is another thing CBD can help with, It can maintain the speed of the enzymes that break the hormones down. This is key for a healthy menstrual cycle from brain fog, to mood and digestion.
Now that we have an idea of how CBD can balance hormones, let’s take a look at how it can affect specific ones. Some of the major hormones in our bodies are:
- Thyroid hormones
- Growth hormone
CBD and Estrogen
CBD may lower estrogen levels, but more research is necessary.
What we know: CBD may affect estrogen is through increasing the activity of cytochrome p450, enzymes that commonly break estrogen down. This could be key after ovulation as progesterone surges to assist fertilization.
Estrogen hormones directly affect fertility, sexual development, and possibility of contracting female-related illness like breast cancer .
The hormones LH and FSH promote ovulation and thus the secretion of estrogen from the ovaries. It has been found that CBD may suppress estrogen production through the inhibition of an enzyme called aromatase, which is commonly used to reduce estrogen in women with breast cancer or post-menopausal.
CBD and Thyroid Hormones
Currently there is no research on the impact of CBD and thyroid hormones, but there is information on how endocannabinoids affects them. Thyroid hormones TSH, T3, and T4 all have important functions within the thyroid. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) regulates the production of hormones, while T3 and T4 are connected to weight, energy, hair, skin, nails, and more.
These hormones are active in the use of our metabolism to carry out these functions. Endocannabinoids, however, reduce thyroid hormones, which in turn reduces the energy needed to carry out the necessary functions.
And since CBD can either stimulate or diminish the endocannabinoids, this could have an affect on the thyroid. When endocannabinoids are blocked, this increases TSH, T3, and T4, which could contribute to a more active thyroid.
The effects of CBD may depend on whether the person has an overactive, underactive, or normal thyroid. CBD is known to increase anandamide levels, a fatty acid neurotransmitter. And it has been found that anandamide can diminish TSH in hypothyroidism and normal thyroids, which have high TSH.
It wouldn’t diminish TSH in those with hyperthyroidism however, which have low TSH. This could possibly mean that CBD could adapt based on a person’s needs. More evidence is needed, but the future looks bright for CBD’s treatment of thyroid hormones.
CBD and Testosterone
Along with estrogen, testosterone helps with the growth, maintenance, and repair of women’s bone mass and reproductive tissues. It can also affect behavior. Having an imbalance of testosterone may lead to a decrease in sex drive, particularly in pre- and post-menopausal women.
Testosterone comes from the male and female reproductive organs in response to the hormones LH and FSH from the hypothalamus. High doses of CBD may affect LH and FSH levels, but more evidence is needed to prove it will have an effect on testosterone in turn. Some researchers speculate that CBD may even have a negative effect on testosterone if used at high doses for a long time without exercise.
But CBD may help stimulate testosterone production in other ways. Physical and mental stress can lead to lower testosterone levels. CBD may limit the production of stress hormones prolactin and cortisol which slow the production of testosterone.
CBD and Cortisol
The infamous stress hormone cortisol notifies the body when something stressful is occurring. Cortisol comes from the adrenals in response to sensory inputs from the hypothalamus. Though this hormone may be beneficial in small spikes that occur during an emergency it’s not one we wanted hanging around on the daily.
Anxiety can help us perceive many things as potential danger, such as the possibility of losing our jobs, fights threatening our relationships, or bills piling up. These stimuli can cause chronic cortisol output due to stress that has been unresolved. Known for its anti-anxiety benefits, CBD is the ultimate antidote to stress. CBD has the ability to interrupt the stress response through CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus and Cortisol production is halted as a result.
CBD and Growth Hormone
The growth hormone (GH) is responsible for growth and development in our bodies. This is done through the signaling of cell reproduction and regeneration. Increased growth hormone could lead to stronger bones, more muscle mass, and more energy.
Long term use of CBD may affect GH. It has been shown that a single dose will have no effect on GH levels. However, other cannabinoids such as THC have been shown to reduce GH through its interaction of the CB1 receptor. Since CBD also has an affinity for the CB1 receptor, this could mean it may affect GH as well. Whether or not CBD causes a positive effect still remains to be seen since more research is needed.
CBD and Insulin
Insulin is a hormone which deals with energy and how much is used and stored. It helps with the regulation of our metabolism, which has an effect on weight and energy levels.
A normal insulin level uses sugar efficiently in our muscles and liver, and not much is left to be stored in fat. High insulin levels cause weight gain and diabetes. This is often brought on by high sugar consumption.
Some research shows that CBD can reduce high insulin levels and keep blood sugar low. It may stimulate cells in the muscles and liver to efficiently absorb sugar, thus stabilizing blood sugar. Though it’s not proved, it may be possible that through reducing insulin levels, CBD may help reduce weight.
Try Third Party Tested, Full-Spectrum CBD for Hormone Balance
Consult your doctor if you are interested in using CBD for your hormonal imbalance. If you decide to give it a try, be sure to purchase a product that has been third party tested . Even though Hemp and CBD are FDA approved the industry is currently under regulated like most supplements. This means there are a lot of untested products out there that make false claims or may even contain harmful contaminants.
To balance your hormones, we recommend a full-spectrum product, meaning it that contains a range of cannabinoids found naturally in hemp. This combination allows for the compounds to work synergistically, mimicking nature. This amplifies the product’s overall effects. Although CBD comes in varying forms such as oil drops, capsules, edibles, and drinks, we find that CBD oil is the most effective convenient choice.
Make sure to take the recommended dose for your condition, and do so consistently. The best results occur when CBD has compounded over time. Use it daily!
What are Hormones and the Endocrine System?
To understand unbalanced hormones and how to balance them again, it is first important to understand how the endocrine system works. Many of us tend to only pay attention to hormones during PMS, pregnancy and menopause, and often overlook the varying functions they play every single day. So let’s take a closer look at this very important system that has a huge impact on our day-to-day lives.
The endocrine system in the human body is made up of glands that produce hormones. This system regulate things like:
- – Metabolism
- – Tissue function
- – Sexual function
- – Growth and development
- – Reproduction
- – Sleep
- – Blood pressure
- – Body temperature
- – Appetite
- – Mood
Hormones are small, powerful chemical messengers within the endocrine system that control these functions. The hormonal messages are sent and received through endocrine glands to receptors in our organs and tissues. These glands are located throughout our bodies, forming a communication network to maintain efficient bodily functions. The major endocrine glands are:
- In the brain: the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and pineal gland
- Above the kidneys: the adrenal glands
- In the groin: the ovaries or testicles
- The neck: the thyroid and parathyroids
- In the abdomen: the pancreas
Hormones are essential for all body processes and thus having too many or too little can affect your health. Hormonal imbalance occurs when the glands produce too little, or too many hormones. There may even be a full stop of hormone production altogether.
Your hormone levels can fluctuate depending on the time of day as well as what life stage you are in. They can become imbalanced during any life stage. These imbalances can cause or be caused by illnesses or triggered by our environment. For instance, an environment that is toxic with plastics, industrial chemicals, and pesticides can wreak major havoc on our hormones.
Here are a list of possible triggers that cause imbalances:
- – Tumors of the endocrine glands
- – Diabetes
- – Polycystic ovary syndrome
- – Cushing’s syndrome
- – Addison’s disease
- – Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- – Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
- – Chronic stress
- – Birth control or hormone replacement
- – Poor diet
- – Being overweight
- – Exposure to endocrine disruptors
- – Consuming high-levels of soy
- – Hormone therapy
- – Cancer treatments like chemotherapy
- – Medications
- – Eating disorders
- – Injury or trauma
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal imbalance in women at a reproductive age, with about 5 million Americans affected. Common signs of this disorder are infrequent or prolonged menstruation among other symptoms. There may also be high levels of androgen, the male hormone. As a result, the ovaries can develop follicles over time and are unable to produce eggs regularly.
If you suspect PCOS or have any other symptoms, visit your doctor. He or she will have the best treatment plan for you.
Treatment options vary depending on your condition and what hormones have been affected. It is often difficult for women to find what suits them, and it can take years to find the right solution. Upon visiting your doctor, some possible options that may be suggested include:
Hormone or birth control medication: Hormonal birth control can regulate your periods. This includes the pill, the patch, the birth control shot, vaginal ring, and intrauterine device (IUD). It may also help clear up acne and hair in unwanted places.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): During menopause, many women experience hot flashes and other uncomfortable symptoms. Doctors may prescribe a low dose of estrogen which replaces the diminished hormones. Be aware that this type of therapy has been linked to increased risk of stroke, breast cancer, and heart disease.
Anti-androgen medications: Women with high androgen hormone levels may be prescribed medications that block androgens. These medications may result in a lowered sex drive, menstrual irregularity, hot flashes, and breast tenderness among other things.
When looking to supplement the treatment of your condition, there may be some easy, natural solutions that can help. A simple thing you can do is to monitor your environment, food, and exercise. Ensure that you are not around any plastics, pesticides, or chemicals.
Make sure to eat a well-balanced diet to keep healthy. It has been said that a 10% reduction in body weight in some women may cause menstruation to become more regular and can even increase fertility. Another great practice is managing stress in a healthy way, such as through meditation, taking nature walks, or talking to a good friend.
Besides getting healthy, supplementing with cannabidiol (CBD) is another hugely beneficial, and natural option. CBD is an amazing chemical compound known as a cannabinoid that is extracted from the hemp plant. It has become popularized due to its many health and wellness benefits. So what exactly can CBD do for hormonal balance?
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only. It is not provided to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or ailment. It should not be interpreted as instruction or medical advice to displace the advice of your doctor or other medical professionals. We recommend talking to your doctor to prepare a treatment plan for any diseases or ailments.