The One Thing That Finally Cured My Hot Flashes and Insomnia
Could it work for you, too?
Natalie Gillespie sighed in frustration as she felt beads of sweat trickle down the back of her neck. “Not again!” she huffed, blasting her car’s air conditioner and hoping she wouldn’t be drenched by the time she finished driving carpool.
Since starting menopause, the 52-year-old Florida mom had been experiencing hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and headaches. But she never imagined a new job — and an unconventional treatment — would be the answer to her prayers.
When Natalie was first offered the position of editor-in-chief of a website called God’s Greenery, a free online resource for Christians to explore cannabidiol (CBD) — a chemical derived from cannabis claimed to have healing benefits —she was very hesitant to accept. As a devout Christian, she felt it would be going against her beliefs. She had a strong conviction against the recreational use of marijuana and wasn’t sure if CBD was the same thing. But after reflection and prayer, Natalie realized that many other Christians may have the same questions, and by taking the job, she could help clarify the facts.
Determined to learn everything she could about CBD, Natalie began scouring scientific studies and quickly discovered that CBD is legal and just one of many chemicals in the cannabis plant. In fact, THC, which causes a high, is a completely different substance. She also read that when used by itself, CBD actually helps disorders like anxiety, depression, heart disease, and pain.
But Natalie was even more surprised when she asked her Christian friends their thoughts — and some had already tried it. One friend, who’d suffered from severe psoriasis, had done everything her doctors suggested without relief. But after using CBD for three weeks, her skin completely cleared. Amazed, Natalie found herself thinking about her own menopausal symptoms. And after praying about it a bit more, she decided it was worth a try.
Relief at Last
Last April, after buying a type of CBD oil, Natalie began putting a few droplets under her tongue before bed. She was shocked when after just two nights, her night sweats had stopped. Over the next week, her hot flashes eased, she felt less anxious and more energetic, and she experienced fewer headaches. Natalie continued using CBD nightly, and soon all of her menopausal symptoms vanished — and have stayed at bay! “At first, I dismissed CBD, but I am so grateful that I did the research and tried it,” she says. “It has changed my quality of life and made me feel like myself again!”
CBD Questions — Answered by an MD
We asked Mary Clifton, M.D., a board-certified internal medicine physician, an expert on medical use of cannabidiol (CBD), and a consultant for cannabisMD.com, to address our biggest concerns about CBD. Her insights:
How does CBD work? “Derived from the cannabis plant, CBD stimulates the body’s endocannabinoid system,” explains Dr. Clifton. “This helps keep all the body systems — immune, respiratory, digestive, etc. — balanced and working together.”
What conditions does it help? “CBD helps reduce inflammation, which lowers pain and anxiety and improves sleep,” she says. “And new research indicates CBD may calm menopause symptoms, such as night sweats and hot flashes.”
Is it safe? Does it make you ‘high’? “It is very safe, and CBD won’t create a ‘high’ like THC. It’s FDA approved for treating epilepsy, and research continues to validate its use for multiple conditions. The caveat: CBD doesn’t work for 20% of those who try it.”
What do I look for? “Try a CBD tincture under the tongue. Results should happen within 10 minutes, so you’ll know if it’s working. Also, choose a product that’s had third-party testing, which should be clearly displayed on the label.”
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.
One woman was struggling with regular hot flashes at night that prevented her from sleeping. Then, she discovered a miracle cure.
Why Some Experts Say Cannabis Can Be Effective in Treating Menopause Symptoms
Share on Pinterest A new survey reports that over one in four female veterans use cannabis to treat menopause symptoms. LightFieldStudios / Getty Images
- A survey indicates that more women may be using cannabis to treat menopause symptoms.
- Some experts say cannabis can be effective in treating menopause while others express concerns about the drug’s side effects.
- One expert recommends using hemp-based products as an alternative.
Over one in four female veterans say they’ve used cannabis to address symptoms of menopause.
That’s even more than the percentage who report using more traditional types of menopause symptom management, such as hormone therapy, according to a study being presented today during the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
“This study highlights a somewhat alarming trend and the need for more research relative to the potential risks and benefits of cannabis use for the management of bothersome menopause symptoms,” said Dr. Stephanie S. Faubion, NAMS’s medical director and a clinician who specializes in women’s health.
Other experts, however, said there’s good science behind the connection between menopause symptoms and the body’s natural endocannabinoid system, even if direct research on cannabis’s effectiveness in addressing menopause is currently lacking.
In the new study, researchers examined data on a sample of 232 women in Northern California who took part in the Midlife Women Veterans Health Survey.
About half of the women, whose mean age was about 56 years old, reported menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats (54 percent), insomnia (27 percent), and genitourinary symptoms (69 percent).
Of these, 27 percent said they currently use cannabis (in any form) to manage their menopause symptoms or have done so in the past.
Cannabis products were most often used to address hot flashes and night sweats, researchers said.
“These findings suggest that cannabis use to manage menopause symptoms may be relatively common,” said Carolyn Gibson, PhD, a psychologist and health services researcher at the San Francisco Veterans Administration (VA) Health Care System and lead author of the study.
“However, we do not know whether cannabis use is safe or effective for menopause symptom management or whether women are discussing these decisions with their healthcare providers — particularly in the VA, where cannabis is considered an illegal substance under federal guidelines.”
The study didn’t differentiate between use of cannabis products containing the full spectrum of cannabis ingredients, including psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and those containing therapeutic doses of cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabioids but not THC.
An additional 10 percent of the female veterans expressed an interest in trying cannabis to manage their symptoms.
By comparison, just 19 percent said they used hormone therapy or other, more mainstream interventions to manage their menopause symptoms.
“This is disturbing because hormone therapy is the most effective therapy we have for menopause symptoms, and the benefits typically outweigh the risks for women in their 50s and within 10 years of menopause,” Faubion told Healthline. “Cannabis, on the other hand, is not a proven therapy for menopause.”
Cannabis use for menopause symptoms was consistent across demographic categories, including age, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and mental health conditions.
Smoking cannabis or consuming gummies or other products containing the full spectrum of cannabis ingredients, including psychoactive THC, could have mixed results for women seeking relief from menopause.
“Cannabis is known to have a sedating effect, so it may have a positive effect on sleep disturbance and reduce symptoms of anxiety, but there is also evidence that cannabis use can result in lethargy, increased anxiety, and can provoke serious psychiatric illness,” Samantha Miller, spokesperson for Drug Helpline, told Healthline.
“Menopause is associated with cognitive changes, feelings of ‘brain fog’ and difficulty concentrating. These are also side effects of cannabis use, so using cannabis might actually make these symptoms worse,” she explained.
“Mood changes and irritability are often prominent features during the menopause, which may be counteracted by the euphoric feelings produced by cannabis use. However, there is evidence of a higher incidence of depression in cannabis users.”
Miller also pointed out that there are “no reliable clinical studies looking at cannabis use to aid menopausal symptoms.”
She notes that cannabis products may be illegal in some jurisdictions and are unevenly regulated.
“It would be advisable to obtain these products from a reliable source and start at a low dose to assess any adverse effects,” she said.
Anecdotally, however, many women have found cannabis products to be effective in treating menopause symptoms — particularly insomnia and hot flashes — according to Dr. Junella Chin, the chief medical advisor at CannabisMD.
“Hot flashes are due to the hormonal ups and downs of menopause,” Chin told Healthline. “Estrogen is involved with the body’s endocannabinoid system, and CBD binds to those receptors.”
She added that both CBD and THC are known for their sedative effects, which could explain their reported effectiveness against insomnia.
“It makes sense that some women find relief with plant-based therapy,” said Chin.
Dr. Felice Gersh, an OB-GYN and medical director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, California, told Healthline that beyond hormone replacement therapy, mainstream medicine offers little in the way of relief to women suffering from menopause symptoms other than opioid or NSAID-class painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
“Cannabis products do offer an alternative to what’s out there,” she said.
A new survey indicates more women may be using cannabis to treat menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.