We may all have two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, but when it comes to what is going on inside our bodies, men and women are very different.
So it makes sense that men and women would also be affected differently by what we put in our bodies. When it comes to CBD oil, there are some subtle and not-so-subtle differences. Additionally, there are benefits experienced more by women than men and vice versa.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a natural substance that works with the body’s own systems to restore balance. It is derived from the hemp plant. CBD (cannabidiol) is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in hemp.
CBD is also a component of marijuana — one of the hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis. It is important, however, to note that CBD does not get you “high”. In fact, it is another cannabinoid that does that—THC, according to a report from the World Health Organization,
“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
The concentration of CBD depends on which strain of hemp you are talking about. While scientists are learning about the benefits of some of hemp’s other cannabinoids (which is why so many people prefer a full-spectrum CBD oil that includes all of the cannabinoids) CBD is still the star.
The Endocannabinoid System
Our body consists of 12 major systems including the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS works in conjunction with other systems to maintain homeostasis (balance) in the body. Animals and humans both have an endocannabinoid system.
The body, through the ECS, actually produces its own cannabinoids called endocannabinoids. Endo is a prefix that means “body” and, of course, the word cannabinoid comes from the word “cannabis”. There are actually several kinds of endocannabinoids produced by the body — each with long and foreign sounds names — and scientists are learning more about the important role they each play.
These endocannabinoids interact and bind with receptors on the surface of cells throughout the body. There are two different types of receptors — CB1 and CB2.
CB1 and CB2 Receptors
The CB1 receptors are located on the surface of the cells in the brain and the spinal cord as well as in the lungs, liver, and kidneys. CB1 receptors are found abundantly in areas of the brain that control memory, high cognition, emotion, and motor control.
The CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are found mainly in the immune system in places like the gut, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells, endocrine glands, and reproductive organs.
Endocannabinoids that the body produces bind with both CB1 and CB2 receptors. The cannabinoid, THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana), also binds with CB1 receptors due to their similar molecular structure.
According to research, the endocannabinoids produced by the body play an important role in the regulation and secretion of hormones in the endocrine system. These hormones are related to reproductive functions as well as our response to stress. In addition to its role with our endocrine system the endocannabinoid system also influences the central nervous system and digestive system.
The body naturally produces endocannabinoids when they are needed. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) works to keep everything in balance. When something is out of balance, the ECS goes into action. When you are overheated, the ECS activates to cool you down. When you are hungry, the ECS activates to give you a little reminder in the form of a stomach growl to get you to eat. You could say that the endocannabinoid system is your body’s very own, internal Jiminy Cricket.
Once the endocannabinoids have done their job, they are broken down by enzymes.
CBD Works with the Body’s own System
It has been found that our bodies are sometimes deficient in endocannabinoids. This can be caused by a lack of Omega 3 oils and other factors. When this happens, the body can get some assistance in the form of phytocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. Phyto = plant, endo = body, there are two types of cannabinoids, see how much you are learning here.
CBD helps the body by interacting with the enzymes that break down the body’s own cannabinoids. CBD helps to prolong the lives of the body’s endocannabinoids so they can do their balancing job. As a result of this effect in the body, CBD has been shown by research to benefit the body in many different ways — as an anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, for insomnia, and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
The Endocannabinoid System and the Endocrine System
The endocrine system is made up of a network of glands that secrete hormones. Scientists have known about hormone secretion since 1903. They have understood that hormones stimulate specific cells and tissues into action. Hormones, as part of the endocrine system, regulate organ function and stress response.
But it wasn’t until nearly a hundred years later that scientists began to understand that behind the endocrine system is yet another system — the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The two systems appear to influence one another.
The Role of Hormones in a Woman’s Body
Estrogen is regarded as the female sex hormone and testosterone as the male’s sex hormone. But the truth is, women also have testosterone which is important for muscle and bone strength as well as sex drive. And men have estrogen which may play an important role in preventing heart disease in men.
Hormones are chemical messengers that influence body weight, hair, bone and muscle growth. They tell organs and tissues what to do. Hormones in women can fluctuate greatly, affecting them not only physically but mentally.
As we age, our hormone levels decrease.
Woman and Hormone-Related Illnesses
Women are more susceptible to some illnesses than men are. The National Institute of Health reports that illnesses like osteoarthritis, depression, and anxiety are more prevalent among women. There are other conditions as well that are more common among women including celiac disease (a disease of the small intestine), multiple sclerosis, and thyroid disease.
Then there are diseases that ONLY women get. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is experienced by many women in the weeks leading up to their monthly menstrual cycle. 90% of women report experiencing some PMS symptoms like bloating, headaches, and moodiness.
Many researchers think that PMS is related to a change in the hormone levels and serotonin levels at the beginning of the menstrual cycle. Basically, estrogen and progesterone, two hormones more predominant in females, increase and this can cause mood swings, anxiety, and irritability.
Thyroid disease is also caused by hormone imbalances — specifically an estrogen imbalance. When stress goes up, progesterone goes down, and estrogen is allowed to move through the body freely unchallenged.
The fact is, there is a delicate balance among the hormones. If there is not enough progesterone, unchecked estrogen will affect tissues. Estrogen actually has an inflammatory effect on the immune system whereas progesterone has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Hormones and CBD
In one study on the function of cannabinoid receptors in the regulation of hormone secretion, it was found that cannabinoids have profound effects on hormone secretions. Consequently, the study determined, cannabinoids could have profound effects on the function of the reproductive system, lactation, metabolism, and stress. That is good news for women who want to get their hormones back in balance.
Anxiety has been traced back to hormone imbalances. For example, if your body releases too much of the thyroid hormone, that can trigger a panic attack. Stress can also cause your body to produce too much cortisol, sometimes called the “stress hormone”. Some researchers believe that CBD helps issues like anxiety by influencing the receptors involved with serotonin — the so-called “happy hormone”.
One survey of 855 woman CBD users found that most women CBD users are between the ages of 20 and 39 — a full 71%. That same study found that the top reason female millennials reported using CBD was anxiety. This differs from female Generation X and Baby Boomers whose top reason for using CBD is pain relief. In that same study, over half of the women of all ages rated CBD as being effective in treating anxiety, and nearly 50 percent said the same about pain relief.
The Role of Hormones in the Man’s Body
A lot has been written and said about testosterone. Testosterone is a sex hormone that is thought to regulate sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass, and strength.
Author Robert Slater writes about it in these humorous terms.
“TMT. Too much testosterone. Way more dangerous than TNT,” he says.
And while the term testosterone is sometimes used derisively or jokingly, it is no joke when declining testosterone levels create what is known as Male Hormone Imbalance.
While there is no evidence that CBD increases the level of testosterone produced by the body, there is evidence that CBD can diminish the breakdown of testosterone by the liver which allows it to remain in circulation in the body longer.
Cannabinoids, Pain, and Men
When it comes to pain, it appears that men and women react differently to cannabinoids.
One study suggests that men receive greater effects in terms of pain relief from the use of cannabinoids than women. The study was done using a Cold-Pressor Test (CPT). The pain response of participants was measured as they immersed their hand in cold water (4°C, 39°F). Researchers recorded how long it took participants to report pain (pain sensitivity) and how long it took them to withdraw their hands (pain tolerance).
Men using cannabis showed a significant decrease in pain sensitivity (the length of time it took them to report pain). Women, on the other hand, did not show a decrease in pain sensitivity.
On the other hand, in that same study, both men and women showed an improvement in pain tolerance after the use of cannabis.
While it is clear that men and women react and benefit differently by using CBD, it is also clear that more research is warranted and will help to shed light on how the endocannabinoid systems of our bodies function and the role CBD plays in improving our overall health.
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