With an increased emphasis on natural, alternative medicines, we find CBD is in the spotlight more and more often. We may have heard about its calming effects, and its ability to relieve pain and fight certain diseases, but do you know it can also produce a hormonal balance in the human body? A hormonal balance is vital in maintaining health, mood, regular sleep cycles and more. Find out more about how CBD can work to promote balance in our lives.
Before attempting to understand how CBD affects hormones, let’s make sure we have a good understanding of hormones and how they work to regulate our systems.
Hormones are special messengers in the body that are created in the endocrine glands. They control most major bodily functions ranging from hunger to reproduction to emotions and mood. So, we can see that having hormonal balance can affect the body in a number of ways from our health to the way we act and feel.
Hormones are created by glands that are part of the endocrine system. The main hormone producing glands are:
Hypothalamus: This gland is responsible for body temperature, hunger, mood and the release of hormones from other glands. It also controls thirst, sleep and sex drive.
Parathyroid: The parathyroid controls the amount of calcium in the body.
Thymus: This gland plays a role in the adaptive immune system and the maturity of the thymus. It also produces T-cells.
Pancreas: The pancreas produces insulin to help keep blood sugar levels in check.
Thyroid: The thyroid produces hormones associated with calorie burn and heart rate.
Adrenal: The adrenal glands produce hormones that control sex drive, cortisol and stress levels.
Pituitary: The pituitary gland is also considered the ‘master control gland’. It controls other glands to make hormones that trigger growth.
Pineal: This gland produces serotonin, a derivative of melatonin, to affect sleep.
Ovaries: These are only present in the female body. They secrete estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, the female sex hormones.
Testes: The testes are only present in the male body. They produce the male sex hormone, testosterone and produce sperm.
All of these glands work together to create and manage the body’s major hormones.
Once produced, the hormones have a variety of functions in the body, some more important than others. Here are some key hormones and what they do.
Estrogen and Progesterone: Estrogen is the main sex hormone. It is responsible for puberty and preparing the body for pregnancy as well as the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Estrogen decreases during menopause resulting in a number of unpleasant symptoms.
Progesterone is a sort of assistant to estrogen. It assists with the menstrual cycle and plays a role in pregnancy.
Cortisol: Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. It has several important functions in the body and plays a key role in how we respond to stress.
Melatonin: Melatonin helps to regulate sleep cycles. Levels of the hormone vary throughout the day becoming higher at night to prepare the body for sleep.
Testosterone: Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men. It causes puberty, increases bone density, triggers facial hair growth and can cause muscle growth and strength.
When these hormones are in balance, they can make a body thrive. On the other hand, an imbalance can have serious consequences.
Now that we have a clearer understanding of hormones and how they work in the body, let’s take a closer look at how these hormones react when CBD is introduced to the system.
When we ingest cannabinoids like CBD, they interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS. This is a complex system that is involved in managing bodily processes like appetite, mood and more…huh, kind of similar to the endocrine system!
Well, then it should come as no surprise that the two systems are related as the endocannabinoid system is also involved in managing endocrine processes. It works by activating receptors in the brain and body which directly influence activity in endocrine glands like the thyroid, pineal and pituitary glands.
So we can see how CBD works to stimulate the ECS to have a direct effect on hormone levels in the body.
Now let’s look at how CBD affects the levels of some of the body’s major hormones.
Many of us have heard that CBD produces a calming effect in the body. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that it influences cortisol, the stress hormone.
Cortisol is one of the main hormones involved in managing our stress response. It is also involved in managing metabolism, memory and wound healing. It is produced in the adrenal gland.
When thinking of how cortisol regulates stress, it is involved in our ‘fight or flight’ response. While this is a necessary response in all of us, vital to our self protection, when it is out of balance it can increase levels of anxiety and produce symptoms like weight gain and mood swings.
One 1993 study has shown CBD to influence plasma prolactin, growth hormone and cortisol in human volunteers. It was also found to have a sedative effect.
We can learn that CBD helps to regulate levels of cortisol to keep stress under control and prevent other unpleasant side effects.
CBD also works with the endocrine system to manage metabolism.
Insulin is an important hormone that helps the body absorb and store nutrients from food. It is necessary in helping sugar from food pass from the bloodstream into individual cells.
A lack of insulin can lead to a number of medical conditions including low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
On the other hand, if insulin is too high, or if the body is having trouble producing or using insulin properly, it can result in high blood sugar which is a common precursor to diabetes.
There have been several studies conducted on CBD and the metabolism as well as how it can work to control diabetes. One in particular has shown cannabidiol to lower the incidence of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Results in general show that CBD can impact the functioning of the pancreas, affecting insulin production, blood sugar levels and more.
CBD and Melatonin
The endocrine system and the ECS are also responsible for regulating sleep.
Melatonin is produced in the endocrine system and is a hormone that is vital in maintaining healthy sleep cycles.
The endocannabinoid system plays a major role here as well.
A study published in the Public Library of Science’s journal, found that the endocannabinoid system regulates sleep stability through the activation of CB1 receptors.
When CBD is introduced to the system, it activates receptors like CB1, to stimulate the secretion of sleep hormones like melatonin, helping to regulate sleep cycles.
Although CBD can not provide a miracle cure when it comes to fertility and solving reproductive problems, estrogen and CBD are linked in other ways.
When it comes to sex drive, low doses can cause an increase in libido while higher doses can have the opposite effect. In high doses, cannabis has been shown to interfere with estrogen to make you less interested in sex.
Also, while CBD does not work directly with estrogen levels to decrease symptoms associated with PMS and menopause, its ability to regulate stress and sleep levels can be valuable to women suffering with hormone imbalances at various stages of their lives.
CBD and Testosterone
When it comes to libido, men may have a similar response to CBD as women do. It will cause an initial spike in libido which may be due to the pain relief and lift in spirits in can provide. However, levels will dip as time passes coming back with a lower interest in sex.
One study conducted back in 1979 examined the effects of cannabinoids on testosterone and protein synthesis in rats. Findings showed that cannabinoids may interfere in testosterone synthesis and the functions of Leydig cells with produce testosterone.
Note: no matter what research concludes, users should be warned that the effects CBD has on sex drive may vary from person to person.
CBD and Homeostasis
Because CBD has such a huge influence on the important hormones listed above, it has a direct influence on homeostasis.
Homeostasis refers to the internal balance needed for organisms to function properly. It ensures that we are in proper working order.
Some examples of variables that are affected by homeostasis include:
- Body temperature
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Sleep cycle
The hypothalamus is one of the main parts of the body’s endocrine system. It contains cannabinoid receptors. These receptors can be stimulated with cannabinoids like CBD helping to manage many processes required for homeostasis.
Hormones play a key role in many vital functions in the human body. Not only that, the balance of hormones in your body is crucial if you want to enjoy physical and mental health. CBD has shown it can help maintaining hormonal balance to keep you healthy and feeling at your best. Feel free to explore the world of CBD to find products that work for you and reliable sellers that can provide you with the pure, potent CBD products you need to improve your quality of life.