Forget pumping up on hormones, when it comes to the best treatment for menopause symptoms, more women are reaching for a marijuana joint or some cannabis edibles, according to a study presented Monday during the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting of the North American Menopause Society.
Twenty-seven percent of women in a survey reported they had used or currently were using cannabis to manage their menopause, with another 10 percent saying they were open to trying it. That’s significantly more than those (19 percent) who were relying on more traditional treatments such as hormone therapy, the most commonly recommended approach for managing menopause symptoms.
Among the symptoms that need relieving, according to the study: 54 of respondents said they experienced hot flashes and night sweats; 69 percent reported symptoms such as vaginal dryness, and 27 percent experienced insomnia resulting from menopause.
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“These findings suggest that cannabis use to manage menopause symptoms may be relatively common,” says study co-author Carolyn Gibson, a psychologist and health services researcher at San Francisco VA Health Care System. “However, we do not know whether cannabis use is safe or effective for menopause symptom management or whether women are discussing these decisions with their healthcare providers.”
Cannabis is an illegal substance under federal guidelines and is not recommended for use by clinicians at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Gibson said.
However, several states have relaxed laws regarding cannabis use for medical purposes, and millions of people are taking some form of the compound THC—the active ingredient in marijuana —to manage numerous chronic health conditions and mood symptoms, including pain and anxiety.
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Gibson and her colleagues interviewed 232 women—most of whom were in their mid-50s—in Northern California for the Midlife Women Veterans Health Survey.
Cannabis use did not differ by age, race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status or mental health conditions, they said.
But Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director of the North American Menopause Society, issues a warning: “This study highlights a somewhat alarming trend and the need for more research relative to the potential risks and benefits of cannabis use for the management of bothersome menopause symptoms.”
Source: Brian P. Dunleavy/UPI