Cannabidiol, a major component of hemp and medical marijuana, may be an effective treatment for postmenopausal women, whose ovaries no longer make estrogen, a new study with mice shows.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is already used to treat conditions such as chronic pain, inflammation, migraines, epilepsy, autoimmune diseases, depression, and anxiety.
In the study in Frontiers in Pharmacology, the researchers report that when they fed estrogen-deficient mice CBD, a non-intoxicating compound extracted from hemp, the mice showed marked improvement in several areas.
Their bloodstreams more readily disposed of glucose and they burned more energy. In addition, their bone density improved, they had less inflammation in gut and bone tissues, and they possessed higher levels of beneficial gut bacteria.
“This preclinical study is the first to suggest the therapeutic potential of CBD for alleviating symptoms of estrogen deficiency,” says senior author Diana Roopchand, an assistant professor in the food science department in the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS).
“There is much anecdotal evidence of CBD’s health benefits for menopausal and postmenopausal women, but our study is the first to investigate some of the claims in an established preclinical model of postmenopause.”
Women spend about one third of their lifetime in the postmenopausal stage, defined as one year after the final menstruation, which occurs around age 51 among US women.
In human females, the steep decline in estrogen levels after menopause can often lead to a host of health concerns, including weight gain, cardiometabolic disease, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal disorders, and cognitive decline.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) exists as one of very few treatment options, but the risks and benefits of HRT is variable and depends on age, individual health status, dose, and type of HRT. Notably, clinical studies indicate that HRT use in women over 60 leads to greater risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and cancer.
“Other therapeutic options with fewer safety concerns are needed for prevention of chronic disease in this underserved demographic,” Roopchand says.
Over 18 weeks, researchers fed the estrogen-deficient mice a steady diet of either tiny, CBD-laced peanut butter balls or peanut butter balls without CBD. The untreated estrogen-deficient mice developed symptoms that resembled those of postmenopausal human females, such as metabolic dysfunction, evidence of inflammation, lower bone density, and lower levels of beneficial gut bacteria. However, in mice that ingested CBD, these conditions were significantly improved.
“CBD is already being used by many women to deal with symptoms of menopause and postmenopause,” Roopchand says. “This study provides preclinical evidence to support further investigation of CBD as a therapeutic for postmenopause-related disorders.”
Source: Rutgers University