Menstrual cramps are something that most women simply have to put up with. It’s just a part of the monthly cycle, and it can be extremely hard to fight off. While a lucky few rarely experience cramps or only have a mild pain, some women find the pain debilitating.
There are a number of treatment options that are pushed. While many women opt for natural remedies like heating pads, hot baths, and even exercise, plenty choose to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These pharmaceuticals include Ibuprofen, and can be bought over-the-counter. However, NSAIDs can have negative effects, especially if taken often.
But what if there was an effective natural remedy that was also an anti-inflammatory?
Enter CBD, the popular food supplement that has been appearing everywhere. From a hot cup of CBD-infused tea to indulgent CBD chocolate bars, there are many ways to consume this supplement. Could it help with period cramps? Let’s find out…
What Causes Period Cramps?
Roughly once a month, those of us with a uterus will experience a period. At this time, the lining of the uterus (which was built up in preparation for a baby) is shed. In order to push out the lining, the muscles clench and release repeatedly. It is this clenching that causes menstrual cramps. Women who suffer from endometriosis, non-cancerous growths, or irregular pelvic inflammation may experience more severe cramps.
The muscular cramps are triggered by increased levels of hormones called prostaglandins. These are inflammatory molecules, meaning that the muscles in the area are experiencing inflammation.
With this in mind, anti-inflammatory effects are definitely key in any period medications. However, inflammation and cramps are not the only symptoms of a period, and therefore a medication needs to have other effects.
Cannabis in History: How it Helped Women Before
Perhaps surprisingly, cannabis has been used for menstrual problems since way back in history. According to Ethan Russo, MD, cannabis has been used for women’s health since right back in the 16th century in China. Records suggest that cannabis was often prescribed to help with menstrual cramps and similar pains.
Though you might expect that cannabis was more a feature in traditional Chinese medicine, its usage spread much further. It is said that the royal physician used to give cannabis to Queen Victoria to help with her menstrual pain.
If this is true, then it’s entirely possible that CBD could help women to battle off their period pain.
Could CBD Help with Period Cramps?
CBD is actually a patented anti-inflammatory in the United States, and of course, this is not for no reason. Through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), CBD may be able to reduce levels of inflammation and therefore lessen the associated pain.
Since we know that menstrual cramps are linked to inflammation, this means that taking CBD could help to reduce the pain. A 2014 study published in the PLoS One journal found that patients suffering from intervertebral disc disease experienced a significant decrease in inflammation after taking CBD.
Obviously, this study is not related to women’s health specifically, but inflammation has the same underlying problem. In other words, CBD’s effects could translate to menstrual cramps quite well.
Could CBD Also Help with PMS?
As we mentioned, it’s important for a period medication to tackle more than just pain. Menstruation can cause all manner of symptoms, and medical companies ignoring these problems leads to pharmaceuticals that just don’t work.
Luckily, CBD might even be able to help with these symptoms, too!
For example, many women experience headaches and migraines alongside their period. In the Pharmacotherapy journal, a 2016 study was published in which cannabis was suggested to reduce monthly migraines. In a group of 121 adults who suffered from migraines, cannabis was found to reduce the number of migraines from 10.4 per month to just 4.6. However, it’s important to note that the study involved THC as well as CBD, and this is not legal in the UK. If the CBD was doing all the work, then it could well help. However, there is no guarantee.
Another huge part of periods is the mood swings. The hormonal changes taking place can obviously lead to changes in a woman’s mood, causing anxiety, depression, irritability and more.
A study from back in 2015 found that “CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.” This may be due to its relation with the endocannabinoid system, which is strongly linked to the serotonin system. With this in mind, taking CBD could lead to increased emotional stability and prevent those angry mood swings you experience during PMS.
How to Take CBD for Menstrual Symptoms
So, it seems that CBD could be a wonderful treatment option for periods. In fact, it may also be able to help with the menopause. Since CBD is safe for people of all ages, all women could be taking CBD to help manage their periods.
It is important to note that CBD may be risky when breastfeeding, as not enough research has been conducted. Furthermore, CBD may interfere with oestrogen hormones such as the contraceptive pill – again, research is not conclusive, but you should be careful if you are taking the pill.
Nevertheless, CBD provides a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals. As a potential natural remedy for menstrual symptoms, women across the world are itching to give it a try for themselves.
There are plenty of ways to take CBD, and it’s all a matter of trying out what works for you. CBD oils are the standard way of taking CBD. All you do is drop some oil under your tongue, wait for 30-120 seconds, and then swallow. Oils will help to deliver the CBD to your whole body, making for fast and effective relief.
Alternatively, try out a CBD edible to curb those sugar cravings at the same time as taking CBD. You can try making your own CBD food or even experiment with a CBD latte, but you can also buy edible CBD online. Some companies sell CBD-infused chocolate – perfect comfort food for your period! Keep in mind that edible CBD will not take effect as quickly.
If menstrual pain specifically is your concern, then you can try out a topical form of CBD. Cannabidiol is definitely a new player in the beauty industry, and plenty of beauty brands are now releasing CBD-infused moisturisers. These can be rubbed directly onto your lower abdomen to ease any pain you’re feeling.
CBD brand PROVACAN have released some interesting topical products that could be of benefit. For example, the CBD massage oil could help period pain, as you can massage it onto your cramping muscles. Alternatively, try and unwind in a hot bath using some CBD bath salts for added relief.
Have you tried out CBD for period problems? If so, what method of consumption is your favourite? Let’s talk in the comments!