My name is Ashley. I’m a therapist, a holistic coach, and a mama of three, obsessed with showing women just how powerful and unstoppable they are. I use my background as a counselor and hormone expert to help women unlock their naturally-given blueprints in order to scale their impact and use their time and energy more effectively. The goal for my clients is for them to be able to show up for the moments that matter most in their lives, personally and professionally.
Along the way, I have compiled a list of tools that help with hormone support, mood stabilization, and overall energy so women can learn how to honor their four hormonal phases (aka their menstrual cycle), get their personal lives and wellness in order, and, in turn, reach their professional goals along the way.
Where does CBD come into play?
We will get to that in a minute, but the basis is, CBD has been known to help with symptoms of anxiety and depression–two conditions that can be exacerbated or brought on by hormonal imbalances. Stay tuned as I break it down for you.
Let’s Start at The Very Beginning: The Endocrine System
You can’t understand hormones without understanding the endocrine system. The endocrine system is a series of glands that work together to create hormones that the entire body uses. These hormones help control important bodily functions such as:
- The Five Senses
The hormones are produced by the glands and then sent into the bloodstream to various parts of the body. Hormones send signals to those body parts to tell them what they are supposed to do. If your body is producing the wrong ratio of hormones, it will not be able to function at its optimal level, which can have a significant impact on all of the categories mentioned above.
The main hormone-producing glands are:
- Hypothalamus >> responsible for hunger, mood, sleep, temperature, and sex drive
- Pituitary >> responsible for growth & other glands
- Pancreas >> responsible for insulin production and blood sugar regulation
- Thyroid >> responsible for metabolism and heart rate
- Adrenal >> responsible for cortisol (aka the stress hormone) and sex drive
- Pineal >> responsible for melatonin (the sleep hormone)
- Ovaries >> responsible for estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone (the female sex hormones)
Meet Cortisol, The Stress Hormone
In regards to CBD, we’re going to pay extra close attention to the adrenal gland and its production of the stress hormone: cortisol.
Cortisol is like your body’s built-in alarm system. It works with parts of your brain to control mood, motivation, and fear. Cortisol also affects many of your bodily functions, including managing how your body uses food as energy, keeping inflammation down, regulating blood pressure and blood sugar, controlling your sleep cycles, and helping to mitigate stressors.
Your hypothalamus and pituitary gland can sense if your blood contains the right amount of cortisol at any given time. The way your body needs cortisol will differ from day today. If your body is on high alert, for example, cortisol can shut down functions that get in the way—like your digestive, reproductive, or immune systems. As a result, consistently high levels of stress can cause a constant elevation in cortisol.
Side Effects of Prolonged High Cortisol Levels
In theory, your cortisol levels should lower once the stressor in your life has passed and then your heart rate, blood pressure, and other systems can go back to normal. But when we’re under constant stress, and the internal alarm is continuously sounding, it can derail your body’s most important functions leading to a number of health problems like:
- Anxiety & Depression
- Chronic headaches
- Heart disease
- Brain fog
- Digestive issues
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight gain
The onset of these common issues is when most people start to seek help. A lot of the time, they may not even realize that the problem is with their hormones–they are just tired of feeling constantly run down and are looking for any guidance that will help them feel better.
Understanding Hormones in Regards to Your Menstrual Cycle is Key
Now that you know the basics of hormones, you can see how important it is that all women better understand how theirs fluctuate throughout the month and how it impacts everything in their lives, from stress to mood, to work performance, and even to their sex lives.
The feminine hormonal cycle, aka the menstrual cycle, consists of four phases. These phases are:
- Menstrual (when you’re bleeding)
Cycle Syncing: Embrace Your Cycle, Align With Your Body
The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, which means you can plan for each phase to be about seven days in length. By mapping this out each month, you can implement habits for each phase of your cycle that will help you align your needs and emotions based on your hormonal ebbs and flows. This is called Cycle Syncing, a term coined by Alisa Vitti. By working with your body to understand what it needs during each phase, you will naturally lower the overall stress and inflammation in your system, which helps to lower cortisol levels over time.
When your period starts, (day one of your menstrual cycle), your estrogen and progesterone levels are low. This signals the pituitary gland to produce Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which leads into your follicular phase. Estrogen rises throughout the follicular phase to prepare the uterus for pregnancy.
The next phase is ovulation, where a sharp rise in Luteinizing Hormone (LH) triggers the release of an egg. If the egg is not fertilized, your estrogen and progesterone levels begin to drop. This is the start of your luteal phase, and then your cycle starts all over again once you start bleeding.
As you can see, your body is doing many things behind the scenes each month (and really each week) with your hormones. This is why implementing habits that optimize your hormonal function are important. Once you determine if you are in a state of elevated stress, you can combat this stress in a few different ways. It is important to identify if the stress is coming from internal or external sources, but either way, these tools can be beneficial:
- CBD (more on this below)
- Pelvic decompression (lay with your feet up against the wall for up to 20 minutes a day)
- Getting 8 hours of sleep consistently
CBD, Stress, Hormones, and Your Menstrual Cycle: Tying Them All Together
CBD has been known to be a natural way to reduce stress and some forms of anxiety that may be keeping you from living your best life. There have been a number of studies done showing that CBD helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety and stress, as well as the initial brain reaction to those stressors. For some people, appropriately-dosed CBD has also been known to help with the symptoms of depression.
As a therapist myself, I love having natural options to suggest to my clients besides prescription medication. CBD is a great natural remedy because it can help manage stress symptoms without adding more toxins to your system. In a world where toxins are hard to avoid, natural remedies that have a proven record of working are important.
By taking CBD in response to stress, daily or as needed, you can help your body manage its cortisol levels and return to its normal baseline so the side effects of chronic stress that we discussed above are not as prevalent in your daily life.
Self-Care is CBD Care
I personally love to take baths as a part of my self care routine and have started using Soul CBD bath bombs to increase my sense of calm. This can be especially beneficial during my luteal and menstrual phases when my body is feeling more worn down due to normal hormone shifts. During the weeks of these phases, when naturally-occurring inflammation and heightened levels of stress are common, adding in CBD to my daily routine helps me avoid PMS symptoms and can help lower stress in my body and mind.
In today’s society, we are often taught to do more, work harder, and push through feelings of stress or fatigue. But as high-achieving females, this does not make sense. Our bodies are built to have natural phases of high and low energy, and working against these phases will simply result in more stress, negative symptoms, and, ultimately, burnout. By recognizing what our body truly needs in each phase of our cycle, and tying in tools like CBD to help us feel our best in each one, we can function in a way that allows us to show up as our best in every moment that matters.