CBD for Menstrual Cramps
It is that time of the month again, curled up in bed with a water bottle, or laid up in the fetal position trying to distract yourself by binging on TV shows.
Does that sound like your monthly ritual?
If it does, can CBD for menstrual cramps help?
For some, they might be so severe that they have to call in sick or miss school.
For others, the symptoms are mild, and they may not affect their daily activities, but that does not mean they do not require pain relief.
CBD is virtually everywhere, in all kinds of products, from edibles to coffees, and seemingly for every ailment.
It has been used for pain relief, reducing anxiety and depression, enhancing appetite, and now, CBD for menstrual cramps is a thing.
20 to 90% of reproductive age women suffer from painful periods or menstrual cramps or as it is medically known dysmenorrhea.
This raises some questions like how to use CBD oil for menstrual cramps, how it works, and its safety.
What is PMS?
Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS is the emotion and physical symptoms that occur between 5 to 11 days before your period, typically the symptoms go away after menstruation starts.
Its cause is not known. However, researchers on the matter think that it happens after ovulation when progesterone and estrogen levels fall dramatically if you are not pregnant.
Up to 75% of women report experiencing PMS in their life, while 5% of childbearing age women experience a more severe form of the premenstrual syndrome known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD.
The symptoms are also likely to worsen with age, as you approach menopause or in perimenopause. However, PMS may stop when you reach menopause.
Symptoms of PMS
The symptoms of PMS include;
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Sore breasts
- Anxiety and depression
- Irritability and emotional outbursts
- Sleeping problems (oversleeping or sleeping too little)
- Appetite change and/or food cravings
- Sensitivity to light and noise
The symptoms and their intensity may vary from person to person and may even vary from cycle to cycle.
The symptoms and how they vary from person to person means there is no specific treatment for PMS.
Your doctor may prescribe one or more medicines, including NSAIDs, antidepressants, diuretics, and hormonal contraceptives.
Even with that, the success or the degree to which they provide relief varies from woman to woman.
There are activities that you can do at home to ease PMS, such as exercising, diet, getting enough sleep, and yoga to deal with stress.
How Can CBD for Menstrual Cramps Help?
CBD may help reduce the symptoms of menstrual cramping. To understand, we have to look at how CBD works in our bodies.
Research suggests that CBD supports the endocannabinoid system by decreasing the breakdown of our endocannabinoids.
The ECS (endocannabinoid system) is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body.
That means regulating critical bodily functions such as appetite, memory, hormones, temperature, among others. The ECS receptors also play a role in pain and inflammation response of your cells.
By interacting with the cannabinoid receptors of the ECS, CBD may help improve your mood, provide pain relief, and reduce inflammation, all of which can potentially improve your menstrual cycle experience.
Many women already rely on anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen for menstrual cramps relief. CBD may have the same effects without any adverse side effects.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties may be its most researched topic yet, and the results are promising.
Most studies suggest that it can be used for its therapeutic properties, but more research is still needed before it can be approved for PMS treatment.
What Causes Menstrual Cramps?
When progesterone levels decline, prostaglandins increase.
Prostaglandins are a group of lipids involved in dealing with injuries and illness. They are the chemicals that control processes such as forming of blood clots, inflammation, and induction of labor.
When the endometrial cells that form the lining of the uterus break just before your periods, large amounts of prostaglandins are released. They constrict the uterus’ blood vessels making its muscle layer constrict, thereby causing the painful cramps.
The prostaglandins, although necessary for healthy menstruation, cause inflammation, and they may increase the sensitivity of pain perceiving nerves.
Higher levels of these chemicals may cause heavy bleeding due to excessive inflammation and trigger muscle contractions in the digestive tract, hence diarrhoea.
How Can CBD Help?
- 1. Reducing Inflammation
Scientists discovered that similar to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) mostly used to manage cramping, CBD also inhibits cyclooxygenase-2, the enzyme responsible for the production of prostaglandins. This means it may provide anti-inflammatory benefits during PMS.
Research has also found that CBD may help treat acne, which is one of the symptoms of PMS through its anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to reduce sebum production.
A study published in 2014 found that CBD oil prevented sebaceous glands from producing excessive sebum and prevented activation of inflammatory cytokines.
- Pain Relief
Pain and discomfort are the major symptoms of menstrual cramps.
Research and anecdotal evidence have suggested CBD as a remedy for that. Sativex, a cannabis-derived drug containing equal portions of CBD and THC, was approved for the treatment of neuropathic pain for ms patients in Canada in 2005.
A 2013 study also echoed the analgesic potential of cannabinoids in the treatment of chronic pain.
- Mood Regulation
CBD may help you stay calm and reduce emotional outbursts during the menstruation period. During PMS, hormonal imbalance can cause mood swings and irritability. CBD may also help you reduce anxiety.
- Muscle Relaxer
Menstrual cramps are largely caused by muscle contractions along the uterus lining. Thankfully, recent research suggests cannabinoids, both CBD and THC target receptors in the muscle to relax contractions. Reducing contractions may help reduce cramping.
How to Use CBD Oil for Menstrual Cramps?
How to use CBD oil for menstrual cramps is determined by how fast you want the effects to kick in. CBD oils, like this Made by Hemp hemp extract, may be taken through edibles, sublingually, or applied on the skin.
Through Edibles – If you don’t mind waiting longer for relief, you can use CBD infused edibles such as gummies, cookies, or CBD infused tea and coffee.
However, CBD will be absorbed through the digestive tract and will be exposed to the first-pass effect. You should expect to start feeling the effects within 30 minutes to an hour
Take CBD Oil Sublingually – Spray or drop CBD oil under the tongue and hold it there for at least 30 seconds before swallowing. This method will deliver CBD into your bloodstream faster than edibles but slower than vaping. Expect relief after 15 to 30 minutes.
Vaping – This is the most efficient way to get CBD oil into your system. You will start feeling the effects within a minute, and they will peak within 10 minutes. However, ensure you use solvent-free cartridges to avoid damage to the lungs.
Menstrual cramps can be extremely stressful, especially without treatment for the pain.
However, CBD may help you get some relief. Before trying CBD oil, talk to your doctor to know if it is good for you and if there may be any negative side effects.