Mood swings, anxiety, depression – hormonal changes can wreak havoc on your mental and emotional state. Whether you’re experiencing PMS or in the throes of menopause, cannabis can offer relief.
As we age, our endocrine system – like all of our internal systems – doesn’t work as well as it should, says Dr. Lakisha Jenkins, a naturopathic doctor and founding member of the California Cannabis Industry Association. Technically speaking, the hypothalamus and pituitary glands in our brains that are responsible for hormone production can get out of whack. The result is an unpleasant rage of hormones.
Dr. Jenkins explains that our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) affects our endocrine system just as it affects other systems throughout our bodies. Our endocrine systems regulates a variety of bodily functions including our metabolism, growth and physical development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, mood and more.
Women, Cannabis and Mood
Women are discovering that cannabis can alleviate some of their negative emotional states that stem from hormonal imbalances.
“Cannabis has been a huge help in my sometimes pretty severe depression,” says Laurie Wolf Founder of Laurie and MaryJane in New York. “No matter how bad my day or dark mood, eating or smoking cannabis has ALWAYS improved my mood.”
At 52, Carolynn King in Colorado says she has been dealing with general irritability.
“I’m irritable at everything and everybody for no reason. I can feel it coming down on me, and I hate everybody,” she says, attributing her moods to peri-menopause.
Jill Trinchero, founder of SDK Snacks, an edibles company in Oregon, says she was motivated to create her line of cookies, vegan raw coconut bites and savory crackers to help with her own anxiety as well as the stress of parenting.
“As a stay-at-home mom, I didn’t want to smoke and knew that consuming cannabis helped me be more present with my kids and deal with OCD and anxiety,” Jill says. “I didn’t want to be in that state because it stresses people around me out, it stresses my kids.”
How Women Take Cannabis
The way women consume cannabis to achieve a more elevated mood varies from woman to woman.
Marie P. in Wyoming has been dealing with hormonal issues since a hysterectomy at 27. Now at 57, she smokes and consumes edibles to relax.
“It’s helped my moods and also helps me sleep. I have been dealing with this for years, but cannabis helps better than anything.”
For Laurie, edibles are her favorite intake method, but she says smoking a joint is fun and a better option when she wants immediate results.
Carolyn prefers vaping as well as edibles to help with her irritability.
Jill typically goes for an edible in a low dose which for her is 5 mg.
“I’m not laid out on the couch. I can still function for my kids and work and everything – just a low dose cookie.
Dr. Jenkins points out that sublingual or oral forms of cannabis can provide more instantaneous results than edibles.
“When you ingest an edible, it goes through your entire digestive system so you’d have to be pretty precise with the number of milligrams you consume,” she explains. “And you’d need to know what your metabolism is like that day, even if your digestive system is sluggish because hormones affect digestion. Edibles are not as specialized or dialed in.”
Another form of cannabis is a tincture, a cannabis extract contained in an alcohol, glycerin or oil base such as coconut oil. You’ll most likely find cannabis tinctures in oil because cannabis is fat-soluble and oils like coconut oil are fatty so increase absorption. Tinctures, unlike most edibles, have the advantage of being a little easier to dose.
“Tinctures that come with a 1ml dropper let you titrate your dose, measuring out the number of drops to find your “personal sweet spot,” as Dr. Jenkins puts it.
Your personal “sweet spot” or “right dose” can vary based on time of day to the period of the month. Even in full menopause, Dr. Jenkins says women’s bodies still follow a cycle.
Picking the Right Cannabis Products
When you’re picking a cannabis product, Dr. Jenkins recommends looking at the cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Some addition tips from Dr. Jenkins include:
- Look for CBD rich strains. CBD plays a strong role in balancing hormones.
- Make sure that the CBD rich strain you choose also has THC-A or THC to help activate the CBD.
- Look for terpenes that are uplifting like Limonene.
- If you have ADD or ADHD, note that Indica strains that are normally body relaxing could affect you more like a Sativa that is more cerebral and stimulating – their effects could be reversed so take note.
“Do a lot of research and know your self, know your body, know what YOU need,” Dr. Jenkins advises. “Then take the research and go on your road of self discovery to find what is right for you. Individuality takes precedence over any traditional medicine you take, especially cannabis.”