First-ever study from Rutgers University found that cannabidiol (CBD) can help treat multiple symptoms of estrogen deficiency in female mice.
Using estrogen-deficient mice to model post-menopausal symptoms found in humans, researchers revealed that CBD could provide a marked improvement in multiple health areas. These include increased bone density, reduced inflammation in the gut and bone tissues, higher levels of beneficial gut bacteria, and improved glucose metabolism.
“This preclinical study is the first to suggest the therapeutic potential of CBD for alleviating symptoms of estrogen deficiency,” said Diana Roopchand, an author of the study and an assistant professor at Rutgers University.
Women spend about one-third of their life in post-menopause.
During this period, the ovaries stop producing estrogen, which leaves them at a greater risk of weight gain, cardio-metabolic diseases, and gastrointestinal disorders.
While hormone replacement is an option for some, the study authors said it’s not typically recommended for those over 65 or those past 10 years post-menopause due to the treatment causing elevated risks of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and dementia. This leaves many post-menopausal individuals with limited treatment options.
“Other therapeutic options with fewer safety concerns are needed for prevention of chronic disease in this underserved demographic,” Roopchand said.
In the 18-week study, the research team fed estrogen-deficient mice a steady diet of CBD-laced peanut butter balls or peanut butter balls without CBD. The untreated estrogen-deficient mice soon developed symptoms similar to post-menopausal humans including increased body weight and higher fat percentage.
Compared to animals who weren’t given CBD, those given CBD had improved oxygen consumption, better tolerance to glucose, and were generally more active. CBD-treated mice also showed fewer signs of inflammation in the gut and more Lactobacillus bacteria – a probiotic known to reduce bone loss and improve gut health.
More surprisingly, when the team examined the bone structure of the animals, they found that mice given CBD had thicker spongy bone tissue in their femurs. Spongy bone tissue help provide additional strength to the bone and can help reduce the chances of fractures.
The research team said that these significant findings will hopefully lead to additional research into the use of CBD for post-menopausal individuals, especially as the use of CBD within the community is already on the rise.
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“There is much anecdotal evidence of CBD’s health benefits for menopausal and post-menopausal women, but our study is the first to investigate some of the claims in an established preclinical model of post-menopause,” Roopchand said.
A 2022 Harvard survey of over 250 post-menopausal and per-menopausal individuals found that over 86 percent relied on cannabis or other CBD products – such as edibles – to help with menopause-related symptoms. Yet clinical research into these health benefits has been lacking.
“CBD is already being used by many women to deal with symptoms of menopause and post-menopause,” Roopchand said. “This study provides preclinical evidence to support further investigation of CBD as a therapeutic for post-menopause-related disorders.”
Calvin Chan is a researcher and medical writer from Edmonton, Canada. As a big science nerd, he loves reading and writing about everything science - from cannabis to dark matter and even alien life. Calvin has a PhD from the University of Alberta.