Many products containing CBD claim to help women with various health issues, including sleep, mood, symptoms of PMS or menopause, and sexual pleasure. Currently, very little evidence supports these extravagant promises, and there are concerns about the quality and safety of CBD products. These days, CBD—cannabidiol, a chemical derived from cannabis—is being sold in many forms and used for many things. Find out what women are using it for. What is Equilibria? We grow premium organic CBD with 1-on-1 dosage support for a personalized daily routine that fits your life. Learn more about Equilibria Women today!
Why are women using CBD products — and do they work?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and other products containing CBD are being touted as a natural, organic remedy for a wide range of women’s health concerns. Sellers of these products make many claims: CBD has calming effects on sleep, mood, and anxiety; eases hot flashes and improves bone density by balancing hormonal changes of menopause; and has anti-inflammatory properties that clear skin, cure acne, and calm rosacea. It’s promoted for PMS symptoms like bloating and mood swings. And CBD-infused lubricants claim to boost arousal and enjoyment of sex. So, how much of this is true?
First, what is CBD?
CBD is a major ingredient in cannabis plants (like hemp and marijuana). It comes in different strengths and forms, often as CBD oil, but also in pills and powders. It can be absorbed through the skin, ingested, or inhaled. (Vaping it, however, may not be safe, as this blog post and web page from the CDC explain.)
Unlike marijuana, pure CBD products don’t make you feel high. A different ingredient in marijuana called THC makes people feel high.
Does CBD have proven benefits?
So far, there’s not much evidence on the medical benefits of CBD, partly because laws on marijuana made it difficult to study. Until we learn more, it’s wise to keep in mind that few high-quality studies have been done.
- In 2018 the FDA approved a drug derived from CBD to treat rare forms of childhood epilepsy. This medication was shown in randomized clinical trials to reduce the frequency of seizures (see here and here).
- A few studies have found CBD may improve anxiety, but the studies were small and of poor quality (see here and here).
- Some laboratory research on human cells suggests CBD may have anti-inflammatory effects on oil-secreting glands in the skin. This might have implications for acne and other inflammatory skin disorders, but further research is needed to confirm this. And while CBD in skin products is unlikely to harm you, most dermatologists agree that there are more effective and better-studied medications and treatments for acne and inflammatory skin disorders.
Other potential benefits of CBD aren’t clear. No high-quality research shows that CBD improves sex drive, decreases pain, treats depression or mood disorders, decreases PMS symptoms like bloating and cramps, or relieves symptoms of menopause like hot flashes. This may change as more studies are done, but for now, the jury is out.
Are CBD products safe?
The short answer is this: pure CBD seems to be safe for most people. However, we don’t have rigorous studies and long-term data to prove whether or not a wide range of CBD products are safe for everyone. For example, there is no evidence to suggest that CBD is safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding, or for people who are immunocompromised.
Because CBD products aren’t regulated by the FDA in the way that drugs are, there is huge variation in quality and, quite possibly, safety. In 2017–2018, counterfeit CBD oil was found that contained synthetic cannabinoids and led to a poisoning outbreak in Utah.
Testing shows purity and dosage can be unreliable in many products. One study found less than a third of the products tested had the amount of CBD shown on the label. Another study of 84 CBD products bought online showed that more than a quarter of the products contained less CBD than stated. In addition, THC (the component that can make you feel high) was found in 18 products.
Does CBD cause side effects?
CBD can cause side effects like dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and drowsiness. Additionally, it can interact with certain medicines, such as blood thinners and antiseizure drugs. If you would like to start using CBD products, it’s best to first talk to your doctor.
There are a lot of extravagant product claims out there about the benefits of CBD for women, but little high-quality research supports them. CBD oil and other CBD products aren’t well regulated. It’s possible what you are buying is counterfeit or contaminated. Before using CBD — especially if you plan to vape or ingest it — first talk with your doctor or healthcare provider to learn whether it could be safe and helpful for you.
About the Authors
Rose McKeon Olson, MD , Contributor
Rose McKeon Olson, MD, is a resident physician in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She has special research interests in gender-based violence, social medicine, and global health equity. See Full Bio
Eve Rittenberg, MD , Contributor
Eve Rittenberg, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a primary care internist at the Fish Center for Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her interests include women’s health, trauma-informed care, … See Full Bio
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I am a 55 year old woman who has suffered with neuropathy since 2004 (amplified by a trauma in 2011); as well as a sciatic nerve issue and other complication since my trauma. One thing I found out (very quickly!), many of the drugs (natural or not) are either recomended for short term relief and used very long term, or the probable cause of added, often more sever, side effects. I don’t believe, for me personally, any medication that has the potential to do more harm than good, especially when it can only treat symptoms and not the cause, would be ideal, unless there is ‘no other option’ or perspective hope. Limited and controlled ecersizes along with diet, seem to have worked best for me personally; but, yes it is very difficult many days. However, I plan to watch my grandchild grow-up, and I plan to do that watching with as clear a mind as possible for today and tomorrow. Side-effects of CBD have been relatively unstudyed or unpublished for lack of verification. That is not promising. All of that being said, I am sure for some people CBD oil could be a God send of relief, most especially for some seizure and cancer patients.
Cannabis Sativa and Hemp are two different plants. Marijuana is not a plant, it’s a slang term used by rhetoric spewing racists seeking to profit from a new prohibition. How can you publish this when you clearly don’t know the basics?
As a woman with a cervical level spinal cord injury, who has experienced many benefits through the use of CBD … this article had absolutely no relevance to its title.
CBD for Women: What Are Women Using CBD For?
These days, CBD—cannabidiol, a chemical derived from cannabis—is being sold in many forms and used for many things. Find out what women are using it for.
These days, CBD—cannabidiol, a chemical derived from cannabis—has been getting a lot of buzz. It’s the supplement du jour that everyone is talking about.
But don’t expect CBD to give you an actual buzz. Because CBD is non-psychoactive and contains no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, it doesn’t produce the high associated with marijuana. Still, since this therapeutic agent is legal in some states, it’s enticing to those who want relief minus mind-altering effects.
Countless products containing CBD have popped up, touted as natural remedies for ailments ranging from joint pain and seizures to anxiety and insomnia. CBD is thought to alleviate conditions like inflammation, migraines, nausea, sleep disorders and more. And women are getting in on it, too. (See more below on that.)
CBD is sold in various strengths and forms including oils, capsules, edibles and topicals at health food stores, smoke shops, pharmacies and more (if it’s legal in your state). You might dab CBD lotion on problematic areas or drizzle CBD oil into your coffee. Or maybe you munch on CBD edibles like chocolates or gummies.
CBD is typically safe and well tolerated. It may cause side effects like sleepiness, diarrhea, rash, decreased appetite and weakness, and it may interact with some medications, like antidepressants. Like any drug, its effects vary with the dose. Typically, the higher the dose, the more unanticipated side effects. Consult with your health care professional before trying it.
CBD is thought to help alleviate some conditions unique to women.
Hormonal imbalance: CBD may provide relief for women suffering from hormonal imbalance. One study investigating the effect of CBD found that it helped regulate the secretion of the stress-activating hormone cortisol. By influencing hormone regulation, CBD can help prevent hormonal imbalance. Also, when you use hemp-based CBD products, you’re getting omega fatty acids and gamma linolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid which is known to help regulate hormones.
Beauty: CBD beauty products like antiaging serums are all the rage in the beauty industry. CBD may offer women benefits like strengthening hair follicles, reducing the appearance of dark spots and improving the look and health of their skin. A 2014 study found that CBD helped suppress acne breakouts by regulating oil production of the sebaceous glands and lowering skin inflammation, says Anita Sadaty, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist and founder of Redefining Health Medical, a women’s health medical practice in Roslyn, New York. “In general, anti-aging skin benefits may be related to the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD,” she says. Topical CBD is also great for skin rashes, eczema and psoriasis, says Dr. Sadaty.
Menopause: No evidence has been found that CBD can alleviate all menopause symptoms. But CBD may help stabilize mood changes, reduce sleep disturbances (a common menopause complaint) and decrease the rate of bone density loss that can occur during menopause. Alyssa Dweck, MD, an OB-GYN who practices in Westchester County in New York and author of The Complete A to Z for Your V, says she has seen women use CBD to help with insomnia during perimenopause and menopause.
“Sleep is interrupted during this time, impacting your day-to-day life,” she says. Her patients are using CBD oil to help them stay asleep. She says it also helps them sleep when menopause-related anxiety keeps them up at night. “Women wake up with a busy mind and can’t shut down their thoughts,” she says.
Sex: Women are turning to CBD to help improve their sex life. Dr. Dweck says that women are trying CBD oil, lubricants and sprays to enhance sexual activity and alleviate dryness and sexual pain. They hope that these products can increase pleasure, help libido, set the mood, relax muscles and ease performance anxiety. “Many women need to feel relaxed to want sex,” says Dr. Sadaty. “CBD fits the bill.”
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Studies have found that CBD can help alleviate PMS symptoms, which occur before or during your period. CBD may help moderate mood irregularities and overall mental health. It can help soothe bloating and cramps. It can help alleviate discomfort from swollen or tender breasts. “Anecdotally, I’ve seen it help PMS, particularly mood behavior,” says Dr. Sadaty. “However, the combination of lowering stress hormone levels, improving liver detox capabilities and reducing inflammation will target physical PMS symptoms as well.”
Just remember that CBD isn’t a miracle, cure-all solution. You can’t take CBD and expect all your problems to magically disappear. You may take it to help manage cholesterol for example, but if you eat fatty foods, you’re doing yourself no favors. To be truly healthy, you have to stop doing what’s causing your health problems.
And always check with your health care professional before taking CBD, says Dr. Dweck. You want to ensure it doesn’t interact with any medications you’re taking.
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