MEDICAL CONDITIONS

PCOS

polycystic ovary syndrome
Written by Stefan K.

CBD in PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)

According to current data from doctors, between five and eight percent of all women of childbearing age in the world suffer from PCOS, i.e. polycystic ovary syndrome. In this syndrome, the levels of male sex hormones are elevated in the female body. This is manifested for example in impaired fertility, cycle disorders and acne.

There is still disagreement among experts as to which specific causes are responsible for PCOS. It is thought that different modes of action interact. The symptoms and the severity of polycystic ovary syndrome usually vary greatly from woman to woman. This is also the reason why some women often have to wait years for a correct diagnosis.

In PCOS patients, at some point in the course of the disease there is an enlargement of the ovary. The reason for this is cyst formation. These cysts form because a large number of eggs mature without ovulation occurring. Instead, maturation takes place in follicles. In the body of a healthy woman, each egg normally travels to the fallopian tube after ovulation. In PCOS, however, the eggs remain in the follicle because they are not ovulating. This causes a cyst-like enlargement there.

CBD is one of the active ingredients that shows great promise in the treatment of the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome. CBD belongs to the cannabinoid family. The ingredients of hemp, of which there are more than 100, also include THC. However, THC is illegal in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. One of the main reasons for this is that THC has a psychoactive effect. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive, does not cause intoxication and is not addictive. Within the EU …

… and many other CBD products are legal, as long as the THC content is below the maximum of 0.2%. CBD can be used as an aid for symptoms of PCOS such as weight gain or high blood pressure.

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Causes of PCOS

Experts now believe that the cause of PCOS is either hormonal or genetic. Environmental influences are also suspected to play a role here.

There are a number of answers to the question of whether and what influence hormones have on the occurrence of PCOS. Certain disturbances in the complex fine tuning of the female hormone balance play an important role in the development of the original symptoms of PCOS. So far there is strong evidence that four specific hormones are involved in the development of PCOS. These are the female sex hormone oestrogen, the male sex hormone androgen, the luteinising hormone LH and the follicle-stimulating hormone FSH. LH and FSH are produced in the pituitary gland. These two mainly regulate the functions and their processes in the ovaries.

According to current knowledge, individual hormonal causes of PCOS are not known to medicine. However, there are certain theories and indications as to how PCOS can develop. For example, it is possible that increased secretion of LH by the pituitary gland in the ovaries of those affected could lead to a relatively large production of androgen. As a result, the researchers say, there would also be increased production of oestrogen.

In addition to the ovaries, there is a high probability that other organs are also involved in the abnormal hormone levels. It is thought that metabolic changes in the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands and in fatty tissue have an effect here. If the androgen levels in an affected and non-affected woman are compared, the levels in the first group are often more than twice as high.

According to other experts, genetic factors can also be important in the development of PCOS, in addition to hormonal factors. There are studies that show that PCOS occurs more often in certain families. Mothers can pass the disease on to their daughters, according to this argument. However, no PCOS gene has actually been so far identified.  The assumption thus remains that a large number of genes contribute to the development of PCOS.

There are also scientific opinions that place the cause of PCOS on environmental influences as well as on the personal lifestyle of those affected. Experts believe that exercise and diet are the main factors that can contribute to the onset of the disease. In addition, there may be a factor that can be evaluated both hormonally and as an environmental influence. Some researchers believe that PCOS patients were already exposed to very high levels of male sex hormones in their mothers’ bodies.

Symptoms of PCOS

Just as the causes can originate from a broad spectrum, the symptoms of PCOS are not uniform. These can vary from patient to patient. According to the so-called Rotterdam criteria, the following four symptoms characterise polycystic ovary syndrome.

The first is a measurable excess of male hormones. This is known as hyperandrogenism. This excess supply of androgen can lead to a loss of scalp hair, but to increased hair growth on the rest of the body. Acne can also be a result of this hyperandrogenism. In addition to the disease with PCOS, this also leads to psychological stress for many women. Hyperandrogenism causes a disorder in the maturation of the female egg cells. Secondly, chronic cycle disorders are a symptom of PCOS. Oligomenorrhoea (longer cycle), amenorrhoea (complete absence of menstruation) and anovulation (absence of ovulation) can occur here. Thirdly, several cysts usually develop in the ovaries. These can be detected by ultrasound and give the disease its name. This is despite the fact that cysts do not occur in all patients. Fourthly, the value of the LH is often much higher than the FSH. In a healthy body the FSH value is higher than the LH value.

In addition to the four very common symptoms of PCOS mentioned above, there are other signs of the disease. An unfulfilled desire to have children can be an indication, as ovulation does not take place. In addition to being overweight, elevated blood lipid values can also be an indication of the disease. Slightly to severely disturbed sugar metabolism (up to diabetes) can be a symptom of PCOS. Hypertension, i.e. high blood pressure, can also be a sign. If an elevated level of the anti-Müller hormone is measured in the body (plays a role in sexual differentiation during embryonic development), this can also be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome.

High blood pressure is not an actual symptom, but rather a secondary disease in PCOS. Another secondary disease, this time due to abnormal hormone levels, is carcinoma of the lining of the uterus. More often than in healthy women, PCOS patients suffer from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an underactive thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism can reduce a woman’s fertility and can further increase the symptoms of PCOS.

How traditional PCOS treatments work

There is currently no known cure for polycystic ovary syndrome. However, there are approaches to treat the symptoms and some of the accessory symptoms. In short, hormone therapy, drug therapy, surgery and lifestyle changes can help relieve many of the effects of PCOS.

Many women with PCOS have reported that they can get their cycle back on track and even ovulate again. This requires regular exercise and weight loss.

Drug treatment generally addresses the individual needs and symptoms of each woman. If the aim of treatment is to conceive a child, the anti-oestrogen clomiphene and FSH are administered. This increases the likelihood of ovulation. If a PCOS patient wants to have a child, the drug metformin, which was originally intended to treat diabetes, can also help. Metformin lowers androgen levels. This leads to an increased ovulation rate, which increases the likelihood of pregnancy.

For women who have acne or excessive body hair, an anti-androgen pill can help. If none of the drugs work, surgery can help with PCOS. This involves making small punctures in the ovaries using specially made needles. This causes the hormone levels to drop. This helps to restore a regular cycle and ovulation. However, the effect of such an operation is only temporary and ends after about two years at the latest.

CBD in PCOS – How cannabidiol works

CBD in the case of PCOS has been increasingly recommended and used by women in recent years. However, even CBD cannot offer a cure for PCOS. On the other hand, according to some studies, it can help with many symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Studies and effects – Cannabidiol in PCOS

According to a study[1] from 2005, stress and depression are common consequences of PCOS. If we compare women who do not have PCOS with women who do have it, we see that depression and stress occur much more quickly in the second group. According to the study, PCOS patients who used CBD products for varying lengths of time felt more balanced and calmer. According to the test subjects, there was an increased anti-stress effect. The researchers also concluded that CBD could help the body to restore its own hormonal balance. This could lead to a reduction in menstrual disorders. Another result of this balance is an increase in the likelihood of conception.

Another study[2] from 2018 was published in the International Journal of Endocrinology. The experts looked at 173 women who had PCOS. The control group was a group of 125 healthy women who were the same age and in the same weight category. Again, CBD was found to be effective in restoring the hormonal balance in PCOS.

In PCOS, being overweight can be a consequence of the disease. Here too, according to a study[3], CBD can help those affected. The study shows that around 80% of all PCOS patients are considered to be overweight. The reasons given by the test subjects were fatigue and too little exercise. Doctors added hyperinsulinemia, diabetes and a genetic predisposition to persistent weight gain to the reasons. According to various studies, CBD can help with weight loss. By regulating[4]  the function of the mitochondria, taking CBD improves the burning of excess fat and sugar. According to one study[5], CBD also helps to reduce insulin resistance and thus to improve the regulation of blood sugar. Another study[6]  suggests that CBD leads to a reduction in appetite and thus to a reduction in calorie intake.

One of the possible secondary diseases of polycystic ovary syndrome is high blood pressure. A study[7] from 2017 shows that CBD is able to make a major contribution to reducing high blood pressure. With the data obtained from this study, it can be shown that acute and rapid administration of CBD can lower resting blood pressure. A placebo group was included in the study as a control group.

Hashimoto’s disease, i.e. hypothyroidism, is more common in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. A study[8] by the Tehran University of Medical Sciences in 2017 showed that certain cannabinoids, including CBD, can have an anti-inflammatory effect in the case of Hashimoto. In another study[9], the same experts concluded that cannabidiol can have a mitigating effect in the pathogenesis of Hashimoto. According to the experts, the reason for this is that CBD counteracts this pathogenesis via interleukin-17, an immune protein.

CBD oil and PCOS

One of the possible CBD dosage forms is CBD oil. Taking CBD oil for the symptoms of PCOS is one of the most effective and almost the fastest way to transport cannabidiol into the body. Only the uptake of CBD liquids via a vaper (e-cigarette) works faster in PCOS.

CBD oils against PCOS are sold in regular trade containing 5, 10, 15 and 20 percent CBD.

Dosage of CBD against PCOS

For the dosage of CBD in the case of PCOS, it is not possible to give a uniform amount.  This partly depends on the type of symptoms and on the individual woman. In general, it can be said that the dose of CBD in PCOS should be started at a low level and then slowly increased. You will have found the right dosage for yourself when the desired effect is achieved.

However, if you experience an effect that you did not intend or want, you should reduce the dose to a lower level. In general, you should listen to the manufacturer’s instructions and the advice of your doctor when dosing CBD in PCOS.

Conclusion

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome can have a very negative impact on the lives of many women. From excessive hair growth to childlessness to hypertension, many things can be the result.
  • Treatments are usually hormonal. But operations can also help. CBD in PCOS can relieve a variety of symptoms such as high blood pressure, obesity or even Hashimoto’s disease, as well as accessory symptoms such as stress and depression.


[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15994628/ – 27.08.2020

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6035367/ – 27.08.2020

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2861983/ – 27.08.2020

[4] https://www.jneurosci.org/content/jneuro/29/7/2053.full.pdf – 27.08.2020

[5] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7082152_Cannabidiol_lowers_incidence_of_diabetes_in_non-obese_diabetic_mice – 27.08.2020

[6] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091305711000128 – 27.08.2020

[7]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5470879/ – 27.08.2020

[8]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28670539/ – 27.08.2020

[9]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28670539/ – 27.08.2020

Taking products containing cannabinoids may result in interactions with various medications. If you are already taking medication, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.

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About the author

Stefan K.

Stefan K.

Stefan is not only a valuable part of the CannaTrust magazine but also convinces with his sound knowledge about the effects of cannabinoids. As an author in Austria he gathered valuable experiences when writing for 'Stadtblatt Salzburg'. He got in contact with cannabis through several positive media reports. Nowadays he writes about everything around the most popular cannabinoid these days: CBD.