And no, it's not just for sex....
Words by Amy Paterson
By now it is pretty widely known (with the good word continuing to spread every day) that weed is more than just a plant we use for getting high.
A growing body of academic research and anecdotal evidence in recent years has finally been able to cast cannabis as more than just a recreational vice, shining the spotlight on THC and CBD as two hero cannabis compounds with significant medicinal and therapeutic value.
And with its non-psychoactive status, CBD in particular has become a popular natural alternative for treating all kinds of concerns and conditions - from anxiety to asthma, chronic pain to Crohn’s disease, stress to psoriasis.
This superpower is linked to the compound’s interaction with our endocannabinoid system, whose core function is to restore “homeostasis” (balance) to all the body’s various functions and processes. And it stands to reason that this drive towards overall biological balance would make CBD specifically beneficial to women’s bodies in some ways.
Here are 3 ways that the female body in particular can thrive from the assistance of some CBD.
A recent study published in 2020 reported that women who consumed marijuana (which will naturally contain both THC and CBD) appeared to have better sex lives than those who didn’t. “Increased cannabis use,” they reported, “was associated with improved sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, and overall satisfaction.”
So what about CBD on its own?
Well, in terms of benefits for sexual wellbeing, it makes sense that women would stand to gain more than men from all these topical CBD products on the market - simply due to the fact that their endocannabinoid systems are mostly concentrated in and around their reproductive organs.
And there are multiple ways that CBD can enhance sexual pleasure and support overall sexual wellness for women when used topically. The first of these is around increased arousal, which in physical terms is simply the process of blood flowing to the genitals that ultimately allows penetration to feel good.
Studies have indicated that CBD can act as a vasodilator, meaning it increases blood flow to the blood vessels by relaxing the muscular walls that surround them. So when CBD is applied to the absorbent tissues of the vulva and vagina, the increased blood flow to these areas can enhance the body’s capacity for arousal and provide heightened sensation.
Another way that CBD can be beneficial during sex for women is through its ability to decrease any tension and pain that might be experienced.
One of CBD's best known uses is as an anti-inflammatory, and combined with its capacity for muscle relaxation, it can help to ease any tension women may be consciously or unconsciously experiencing as a result of anything from posture and injuries to sexual trauma or scar tissue from childbirth.
Many ladies also experience pain during penetration as the result of hormonal fluctuations, menstrual disorders or muscular spasms. CBD can assist in relieving this by decreasing muscle tension, inflammation and pain in the pelvis while also allowing for better blood flow and heightened arousal.
2. MENSTRUAL HEALTH
Research has also suggested that CBD can also be effective at alleviating the symptoms of common conditions associated with the female reproductive system, such as PMS, endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
If you suffer from particularly painful period symptoms, CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can be ingested or applied topically through creams and transdermal patches to relieve the bloating, cramps and general pain many women experience.
Not to mention the calming anti-anxiety effects of CBD, which can help keep those mood swings and any monthly melancholy at bay.
One study in 2010 suggested that CBD could also be used to treat endometriosis, which is a condition where the tissue that usually lines the uterus starts to grow outside of it, on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or intestines.
This causes severe inflammation, which in turn causes severe pain. But because CBD is such a potent anti-inflammatory, the biological balancing function of the endocannabinoid system can help to reduce the severity of these symptoms and provide greater comfort to sufferers.
Research is also suggesting that CBD can help to treat PCOS, a condition suffered by 1 in 10 women. A study on a group of 100 women with PCOS showed that CBD eliminated some of their symptoms and reinstated homeostasis in their bodies.
When women’s bodies stop producing eggs in older age, the hormones in their bodies go haywire and it all results in a specific brand of havoc known as menopause.
But in a tale as old as time, this female-centric condition still remains woefully misunderstood and under researched by the medical fraternity - meaning that there is little innovation and progress when it comes to treating it.
So it is encouraging that many women are reporting that CBD is able to come to their rescue with alleviating some of menopause’s most severe symptoms, which includes joint pain, osteoporosis, mood swings or depression, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, atrophy and bladder control problems, and sleep disruptions or insomnia.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can be a huge help when it comes to relieving the pain and rigidity in bones and joints that women experience as a result of menopause, as well as protecting these areas from any further inflammatory damage.
The mood-enhancing and generally calming properties of CBD can also curtail the emotional rollercoasters and sleepless nights wrought upon many during this time. And because hot flashes have a neurochemical basis, CBD’s influence on the body’s serotonin system is also thought to be part of the reason women find it helpful in relieving this particular symptom.
In addition, CBD’s ability to reduce insulin resistance means it can help contribute to a more healthy metabolism, and ward off the weight gain that many women experience during menopause.
Plus, as mentioned previously, the ability of topical CBD products to increase blood flow to the pelvic region keeps vaginal tissues healthy and moisturised - preventing the vaginal dryness and atrophy that some women endure, and in so doing putting a stop to any pain during sex.
So if you’re thinking of using CBD for improving your sexual wellness, reducing menstrual issues or mitigating menopause - go for it!
Just start low and go slow if you are consuming it orally so that your body is able to adjust appropriately, and take it consistently (at the same time, every day) for at least a month before you can really make an accurate assessment of how effective it is.
And for both oral and topical options is important to remember that in the same way that one makeup brand's foundation, a particular form of contraceptive or a certain skin serum might be more or less effective for you than they are for your girlfriends - CBD works differently for everybody due to every individual's unique biochemistry.
So the only way to find out if CBD is right for you specifically is by giving it a try - and luckily you have very little to lose by doing so.
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