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A Complete Guide to CBD For Women’s Wellness

28/04/2021 12 MIN. READ Alyssha Bal
28/04/2021 12 MIN. READ Alyssha Bal

So, what do CBD and women’s wellness have in common? The answer may surprise you! This article will briefly appreciate how cannabis extracts and feminine products have been subject to different taboos and stigmas throughout history. Today, many women join forces with CBD to tackle some inconvenient symptoms related to period pain, hot flushes, menopause, and sexual pleasure. Whether you’re a woman yourself or reading purely out of curiosity, this text will reveal everything you need to know about ‘hemp for her’. Let’s start by looking at some historical shifts in the women’s wellness industry.

A Brief History of Women’s Wellness

Over the past few years, prominent women (and some men) across all industries have been speaking up about commonly overlooked issues that deeply affect their comfort and wellbeing. At times, this activism has been full of controversy and legal battles (such as the #MeToo movement). On other occasions, respected artists such as Taylor Swift and Halsey have shared impassioned speeches on themes of body image, sexuality, and reproductive health. You may be tempted to take these trending “woke” discussions for granted, but we need to remember that we’re also very privileged to hear them. At large, women’s wellness has faced active resistance for centuries.

While the fundamental and physical aspects of women’s needs have remained relatively consistent throughout history, public attitudes towards these needs have changed dramatically over the years. Before we get into the basics of CBD, let’s take a look at some of the key historical responses that have influenced modern perceptions of women’s wellness today. 

The Red Tent

Nowadays, many of us have access to wellness products specially designed to meet our needs in a portable and discreet way. However, women born into different circumstances have faced an entirely different set of challenges. Studies suggest that some tribal communities in ancient Ethiopia and Israel habitually banished women on their periods for up to 14 days at a time. Believed to be cursed, they were exiled in crowded and poorly ventilated ‘marjam gojo’ (red tents/huts) on the outskirts of local settlements. According to the British charity Action Aid, this dangerous practice is now illegal, but still endures in some parts of the world today. 

Similar forms of superstition and social exile have taken place in developed countries throughout the years. Under the guise of social etiquette, women suffering from wellbeing issues have long been encouraged to stay in some form of ‘hiding’ until their symptoms subside. Researcher Sarah Bryson from the Tudor Society suggests that some historic churches in the UK even banned women from using painkillers because some religious leaders believed that feminine pain had spiritually ‘divine’ properties. At one time, go-to comfort foods such as chocolate were also deemed inappropriate for female consumption due to the rumoured ‘hysteria’ they caused! Thankfully, modern audiences are challenging such notions. 

Women’s Health as a Human Rights Issue

Wellness doesn’t just influence how we feel - it involves a powerful combination of factors that collectively impact how we live our lives. In the USA, the Women’s Health Movement emerged in the 1960s and soon occupied political ground, mainly because wellness can better enable women (and human beings in general) to partake in a broader range of significant activities. These may include career advancements, learning opportunities, relationship building, and more. When your wellness is compromised in some way, it has a knock-on effect on your day-to-day life. 

In the UK and Germany, initiatives such as Wellbeing of Women and Deutscher Frauenrat

have played instrumental roles in developing support services and women’s health policies. At a marketplace level, we can also extend the conversation to economic issues, such as the controversial ‘pink tax’. 


What is ‘Pink Tax’?

Rather than being a literal tax enforced by governments, ‘pink tax’ refers to the unofficial price inflations that some manufacturers apply to toiletries and personal care products marketed towards women. As you can imagine, this gender-based pricing has recently come under fire. In 2018, German activists collected over 180,000 signatures for their petition to stop companies taxing women’s sanitary products - resulting in a trail-blazing law change. Similarly, the UK government ruled to make feminine products tax-exempt in January 2021. There’s plenty more on the agenda, but in the meantime, it’s a positive sign of progress.

Now that we’ve appreciated some of the complex historical and political factors that have impacted women’s wellness over time, let’s briefly look at the hemp (cannabis) wellness movement. 

How Hemp Happened

With sufficient light levels, water, and the right humidity, hemp can grow almost as quickly as bamboo. It’s a tall, green plant from the cannabis Sativa family - packed with robust fibres, plant oil, and unique botanical compounds. The basic biology is relatively straightforward to understand, but we need to dig deeper to answer cultural questions. For example: why is hemp so popular?

While mainstream pharmacies and health food stores have been promoting trendy ‘new’ hemp products over the past few years, hemp is far from a recent fad. Even before understanding the chemistry of hemp, people cultivated it in many different ways - creating fashion textiles, industrial equipment and more.

While hemp may have earned a royal seal of approval in the past, more recent times have presented regulatory changes - leading to some vital distinctions (legally and culturally) between hemp and cannabis. Let’s explore these differences in closer detail before we turn our attention to CBD.

Hemp vs Cannabis

You may have heard people using the terms ‘hemp’ and ‘cannabis’ interchangeably, especially when speaking from a botanical perspective. However, they are not the same. As we’ve learned, hemp is a specific subspecies belonging to the cannabis Sativa plant family. It’s useful to remember that cannabis is also available in two other categories: Indica and Ruderalis. Many of these plants are high in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) - a chemical that may produce psychotropic effects when consumed in excess. Hemp is unusual because it is naturally low in THC and, therefore, won’t impair your senses or leave you feeling “high”. 

While cannabis is a Class B controlled substance in the UK, the government permits farmers to grow licenced hemp crops under strict regulations. In addition to this, legal hemp extracts and other infused products are widely available in the modern marketplace - subject to certain conditions. As a result of these policies, many of us have the opportunity to enjoy natural substances, such as CBD. 

CBD: A Supplement Fit For a Queen

Nowadays, a new hemp-derived wellness product has taken the throne: cannabidiol (CBD). Before we go on to explain some of the possible reasons why it might be of particular interest to women, let’s cover the basics. 

What is CBD?

Just as cocoa comes from the cocoa bean, CBD (cannabidiol) is a potentially beneficial substance found in hemp plants - though it requires a great deal more science and precision to acquire. Technically, it’s a signature cannabis compound (or cannabinoid) that manufacturers obtain through complex lab extraction methods involving CO2 and controlled pressure chambers. Many people incorporate it into their daily routines as a natural food supplement - claiming that it’s pleasant to consume, and may lead to some possible feel-good effects. 

Once it is released from the leaves and flowers of hemp plants, CBD extract displays oily properties, which lend well to the development of various CBD-themed products. You’ve probably already heard of CBD oil - a popular combination of base oil (such as hemp seed) and CBD extract. While mainstream goods, such as chocolate, usually come in three core varieties (white, milk and dark), CBD extract is available in three ‘spectrums’:

 

CBD Isolate

Manufacturers developing CBD Isolate place a sole priority on CBD compounds - creating a highly distilled extract that features none of the other substances naturally present in hemp. As a result, it has a restricted chemical profile, and people often describe it as having a virtually undetectable taste and smell.

Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad Spectrum CBD features a more comprehensive selection of botanical compounds. While focussing on CBD and removing any THC traces, manufacturers choose to tolerate some of the additional substances available in hemp plants. The result is an extract with a more noticeable ‘earthy’ flavour.

Full Spectrum CBD

Viewed by some as the ‘holy grail’ of hemp extracts, Full Spectrum is the most chemically diverse version of CBD. Here, manufacturers seek to represent the chemistry of hemp plants as authentically as possible: with trace amounts of THC, terpenes, flavonoids, and more. Some studies suggest that these substances may synergistically produce the “entourage effect” within a potentially richer and more aromatic extract.

Is CBD Legal? 

CBD that meets government conditions is legal in the UK, Germany, and many other countries. Typically, these conditions require that CBD extract comes from licenced hemp crops and that the resulting THC concentrations do not exceed the legal limit of 0.2% per product. While these responsibilities lie mainly with the farmers, manufacturers, and retailers, you may also be subject to legal penalties if you’re found with CBD products that do not meet these conditions. Therefore, it’s vital to check the laws where you live and choose a reputable brand with relevant certificates (COAs) before making any purchases or commitments. 

Now that we’ve covered some of these necessary definitions and regulations, let’s move on to the best part.

Potential CBD Benefits

Lately, it seems like everyone and their mother is talking about the possible benefits of CBD oil and other hemp-derived products. You’ve probably heard CBD users discussing a wide variety of self-perceived advantages - as people connect CBD with anecdotal reductions in unwanted wellness symptoms. While it’s unreasonable for us to claim that any food supplement can “cure” a headache, cramps, or anything else for that matter, there is something to be said for the anecdotally reported effects of CBD for women. CBD may potentially impact some common wellbeing challenges that many of us face today. Studies suggest that it may influence the fundamental hormonal and physiological processes governed by our central nervous system (specifically the endocannabinoid system and associated receptors).

Current research generally points in a promising direction by suggesting that CBD may possibly:

  • Reduce some symptoms of inflammation (such as bloating and redness)
  • Improve your sleep and help to offset some signs of insomnia
  • Reduce some symptoms of mood disorders (i.e. anxiety and perhaps depression)
  • Impact how you perceive pain symptoms and muscle tension

  • Regardless of gender, you’re probably able to identify with one or two of these widespread wellbeing complaints. In a moment, we’ll elaborate on how CBD might be a source of potential comfort when dealing with a few specific women’s wellness issues.

    Possible Side Effects of CBD Consumption

    The last thing you want when you’re looking for a pick-me-up is to consume something that ends up making you feel worse! We’re sure you are familiar with the dreaded side-effect booklets that come with many food supplements nowadays. Thankfully, CBD is a relatively low-risk substance to consume. While adverse side-effects are unlikely, you may wish to alter your dosage or speak to a doctor if you notice any mild discomforts, such as:

  • An upset stomach
  • A dry mouth
  • Drowsiness

  • Is CBD Suitable For Pregnant Women?

    Due to its potential capacity to impact a range of inconvenient symptoms, CBD has attracted considerable attention from pregnant women struggling with nausea, morning sickness, aches, and pains. However, its impact on pre and postnatal health remains severely under-explored. Currently, institutions such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not support CBD use by pregnant or breastfeeding women. We strongly advise that you speak with a trusted doctor or healthcare practitioner for the most accurate guidance. 

    As we’ll discover throughout the remainder of this article, CBD may potentially impact our hormones, sense of reproductive wellbeing, and general comfort levels in daily life. 

    CBD Oil, PMS and Period Pain Symptoms

    Due to the cyclical nature of periods, women often experience noticeable bodily fluctuations from week to week - especially in terms of hormonal changes and inflammation symptoms. While signalling our incredible capacity to bear life, these cycles can also manifest via some discouraging and painful symptoms. 


    What is PMS?

    For most of us, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) needs no introduction. In the days or weeks leading up to a woman’s period, her estrogen (reproductive hormone) levels drop, and this sudden dip often triggers a reduction in serotonin (the ‘happy’ hormone). Consequently, some challenging PMS symptoms may arise - connected to mood swings, inflammation, and restlessness. As a special bonus, the notorious muscle cramps that cause ‘period pain’ might also appear. It’s not exactly a walk in the park, is it? If you’re wondering how to get rid of period pain symptoms and other discomforts, you may well be in the right place. 

    Can PMS Be As Easy As CBD? 

    Alongside your hot water bottle and comfortable clothes, CBD might just be the perfect addition to your monthly self-care kit. While it’s by no means a “cure” for cyclical ups and downs, many women appreciate CBD as a plant-based food supplement that may help them unwind and feel more prepared for their time-of-the-month. 

    Emerging research suggests that CBD may potentially influence PMS and period symptoms by:

  • Impacting your brain’s serotonin (‘happy’ hormone) receptors
  • Having a potentially calming effect on your central nervous system (via ECS receptors)
  • Reducing some symptoms of muscle inflammation and cramping
  • Affecting some signs of inflammatory pain
  • CBD For Menopause Symptoms

    Beyond periods lie the stormy waters of menopause - which present a diverse range of unpredictable symptoms as women’s bodies gradually begin to ‘wind down’ from reproductive cycles. You may already be familiar with this process, but we’ll give you a brief reminder before offering some possible reasons why CBD might help. 

    What is Menopause?

    Menopause is a natural process that activates in women who are in their mid-forties or over.  

    According to the National Health Service (NHS), it lasts for an average of four years - approximately 5% of the average woman’s lifetime. It is characterised by hot flushes (also known as hot flashes) and changes in familiar period patterns. Along with sharing the PMS symptoms we previously mentioned, some other menopausal symptoms may also include joint pain, bone density loss, insomnia, and forgetfulness. While these changes are an inevitable fact of life, there’s no need to grin and bear it. Many self-care measures may potentially affect how you feel - including the use of supplements like CBD.

    What Signals The End of Menopause Symptoms? 

    While there’s no fast track to ending menopause, you may well be able to use self-care methods to end some of its excess discomforts. Currently, there is limited research investigating CBD as it relates specifically to menopause. However, hundreds of studies are exploring the potential of CBD for menopause symptoms that may resonate with women going through this stage of life - along with a wide variety of other wellbeing challenges. Since many people experiment with food supplements in response to changing diet and lifestyle needs, daily CBD capsules could be an ideal opportunity for you to try hemp’s number one compound. 

    Emerging research suggests that CBD might possibly affect some menopause symptoms by:

  • Helping to reduce some symptoms of skeletal pain
  • Impacting your muscle fibres and bones 
  • Influencing some signs of inflammation (such as redness and swelling)
  • Offering some possible neuroprotective properties which may influence memory

  • CBD For Sex and Pleasure

    Now that we’ve learned about how CBD may affect some of the burdensome symptoms associated with women’s wellness, let’s take a moment to talk about an incredibly underrated topic: pleasure. Did you know that ‘CBD for sex’ is a trending search query and emerging category in the hemp-derived wellness market? On paper, it’s an explosive union of two common taboos - cannabis and sexual liberation. While the thought is undeniably provocative, is there any substance to the anecdotal claims that CBD oil may affect your libido? 


    According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there are many different physiological and mental factors that can impact our sexual arousal. Feelings of tension, stress, pain, and anxiety are common roadblocks to satisfaction, since they can interfere with how we interpret pleasure signals. 


    Studies suggest that CBD may potentially impact women’s sexual wellness by:


  • Decreasing some mental and physical signs of stress and anxiety
  • Affecting our natural production of oxytocin (the ‘cuddle’ hormone)
  • Influencing some symptoms of pain
  • Impacting blood flow (and possibly helping you to focus on sensations)

  • Bonus tip: CBD might also have a part to play in men’s sexual wellbeing - which may possibly impact some symptoms of low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and other issues!


    How to Take CBD Oil and Other Popular Products

    While hemp is an ancient crop, CBD products represent something new and exciting - especially within the women’s wellness market. Now that we’ve covered some of the reasons why this compound might potentially allow you to feel more calm and satisfied with some of life’s ups and downs, let’s briefly review some of the products you may wish to try. 


    CBD Product Type

    Description

    How to Use It

    The Perks

    CBD Oil 

    A mixture of CBD extract and base oil (such as olive oil)

    Apply drops under your tongue and hold for 60 seconds

    A quick and discreet method for routine or spontaneous use

    CBD Capsules

    A blend of CBD, vitamins, and botanicals

    Take daily with water and preferably food

    Easy to add to your AM or PM routine for steady consumption

    CBD Gummies

    Chewy ‘sweets’ containing a single dose of CBD extract

    Chew one daily - preferably at set times

    A delicious burst of CBD-infused sweetness

    CBD Cosmetics

    CBD skin products - such as creams, bath bombs, and body oils

    Apply to your skin in targeted areas after doing a patch test

    Sumptuous self-care with minimal chances of an upset stomach


    Conclusion

    Society has come a long way when it comes to acknowledging every woman’s right to feel well, centred, and at peace within herself. While we still have a long way to go, the modern market for self-care products designed with women in mind is expanding rapidly. Hemp-derived CBD extract is a popular choice for adults of all ages and genders - potentially impacting a wide range of everyday issues. It’s a viable choice among women in particular - since CBD may possibly offer a new angle when it comes to preparing for unavoidable symptoms of PMS and menopause. Dare we say it, CBD might even be ‘sexy’ - both as a trending supplement and a potential aphrodisiac

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