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The Top 8 Ways Cannabidiol May Stop Period Pain



For most women, monthly bloating, mood swings, menstrual cramps, back pain, and feeling—well, just a bit bleurgh, are a given. These are all symptoms of what doctors call "dysmenorrhea." We women see this as an inevitable part of life and have different remedies and ways of dealing with it.

But it comes with varying success. 

Can cannabidiol (CBD) help beat painful periods? Many women say yes.

Contents

1. What Are Menstrual Cramps?
2. What Causes Menstrual Cramping?
3. Do NSAIDs Work?
4. What Is CBD?
5. How Does CBD Work?
6. What Makes CBD an Excellent Alternative?
7. Eight Ways CBD Oil Supports Your Period Pains and Other Woes
     7.1 Reduces Inflammation
     7.2 Relieves Pain
     7.3 Relaxes Muscles
     7.4 Vascular Relaxant
     7.5 Reduces Breast and Lower Abdomen Tenderness
     7.6 Manages Stress and Anxiety
     7.7 Helps With Depression
     7.8 Decreases Bloating
8. Prevention
     8.1 Adjust Your Diet
     8.2 Exercise Regularly
     8.3 Reduce Stress
     8.4 Quit Smoking
9. In a Nutshell

1. What Are Menstrual Cramps? 

As explained by Peter Crosta writing for Medical News Todaythis is period pain: [1]

Menstrual cramps are painful sensations that affect many women before and during a menstrual period. Pain occurs in the lower abdomen and lower back. It usually begins 1 to 2 days before menstruation and lasts from 2 to 4 days.

Other symptoms of menstruation include the following:

What Are Menstrual Cramps?

2. What Causes Menstrual Cramping?

If a woman's body is still producing eggs, her uterus needs to shed its lining once a month.

This happens so the unfertilized eggs can be released from the body.

To ensure efficient shedding, a woman's abdominal muscles start clenching and releasing even before her period starts. It's this action of the muscles that causes the cramps many women experience.

Excessive cramping and bleeding are thought to be caused, in many instances, by non-cancerous growths—a condition called "endometriosis." Endometriosis makes it harder and more painful for the uterine lining to shed. 

Often, this and other non-specified menstrual cramps are treated with NSAIDs like diclofenac, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

What Causes Menstrual Cramping?

3. Do NSAIDs Work?

Short answer—yes, they do. [2]

This is roughly how:

  • Menstrual cramping seems to be linked to the over-production of a hormone-like compound in the body called "prostaglandin."
  • Prostaglandins are said to be involved in sustaining balance in the body (homeostasis). 
  • They also mediate the body's responses to invaders like bacteria and viruses. This includes the inflammatory response.
  • NSAIDs' mode of action involves inhibiting the biosynthesis of a specific enzyme that helps to produce prostaglandin in the body. [3] 
  • This means that the anti-inflammatories limit not only inflammation, but all the other symptoms aggravated by an excess of prostaglandins, like contractions and pain.

Do NSAIDs work for menstrual cramping?

However, many doctors will be quick to point out that taking NSAIDs is associated with some nasty side effects. 

The common ones are: [4] 

  • Stomach pain and heartburn
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Increased bleeding
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Allergic reactions such as rashes, wheezing, and throat swelling
  • Liver or kidney problems (Don't ever take NSAIDs if you are hepatically or renally impaired—consult your doctor first.)
  • High blood pressure
  • Swollen legs

It should be clear why NSAIDs often aren't (and really shouldn't be) the primary treatment for alleviating menstrual cramps. Ideally, nobody should take them regularly.

Women are increasingly reaching for herbal remedies, including hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), to help them beat monthly period pains. One of the main reasons is that these natural alternatives to medicine, as a rule, don’t show any of these side effects. 

NSAIDs often aren't (and really shouldn't be) the primary treatment for alleviating menstrual cramps.

4. What Is CBD?

Cannabis has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy, and to this day, it continues to help us stay healthy. One of the earliest recordings of its gynecological use specifically is found in the so-called Ebers Papyrus, which dates back to Ancient Egypt. [5] 

CBD is a compound (called a "cannabinoid") abundantly found in the cannabis plant, most notably in the hemp variety. Together with other cannabinoids, it has been shown to have many pharmacological functions, and the body is uniquely geared for its use.

CBD is a compound abundantly found in the cannabis plant, most notably in the hemp variety.

RELATED: How Safe is Cannabidiol?

5. How Does CBD Work?

All vertebrates have been shown to have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This central regulatory system affects a wide range of biological processes. It is thought to regulate homeostasis (balance) in the body.

The endocannabinoid system, amazingly, produces its own cannabinoids. The best-known one is called anandamide, also referred to as "the bliss molecule." Scientists who discovered this endocannabinoid in just the previous century identified its involvement in chemical processes known to cause feelings of euphoria and bliss.

Furthermore, the ECS has multiple receptors in the immune, reproductive, and nervous systems and all the body's major organs. These receptors interact with compounds produced by the body as well as ingested ones like CBD.

CBD and other plant-derived cannabinoids bind to multiple ECS receptors (with different functions) to exert their unique superpowers.

Many swear by cannabidiol to help alleviate specific health conditions, while other users feel it helps them to remain healthy and in balance.

CBD binds to multiple ECS receptors to exert its unique superpowers.

RELATED: 8 CBD Benefits That You Should Consider

6. What Makes CBD an Excellent Alternative?

There are a number of good reasons for this:

  1. Cannabidiol is preferable over commercial products mainly because of its good safety and side effect profile. So no gastrointestinal upset when using CBD chronically.
  2. Also, the cycle of medicine overuse gets stopped in its tracks. This is a real thing. Think of your grandma's 10 different prescription drugs she takes every day. This happened, most probably, because she started taking medicine chronically years ago, which showed side effects after a while—serious ones, which needed to be treated with other medicine ... which eventually showed side effects that needed to be treated with more medicine ... which eventually showed side effects that ... OK, you should get the picture. It's insane. And expensive.
  3. While the good CBD products tend to be in the higher price range, you will not need to spend money on managing side effects. So, in that sense, it's the more cost-effective option. 
  4. Also, it confers many other health benefitsAdd CBD to even just a moderately healthy diet and lifestyle, and you may soon find yourself needing to drop prescription medicine or OTCs. (Don't do this without medical supervision, though!)
  5. An effective dose of whole-hemp CBD is usually not medicinal strength, meaning you won't need a doctor's prescription for it. 

Bottom line is that CBD could be just the better, healthier option overall.

CBD could be just the better, healthier option overall.

RELATED: What Aspect of Your Health do YOU Need to Improve?

7. Eight Ways CBD Oil Supports Your Period Pains and Other Woes

CBD seems to have a few astonishing properties that make it the ideal remedy for alleviating menstrual cramps. It does so by addressing some serious issues in the body.

7.1. Reduces Inflammation 

First, cannabinoids appear to have anti-inflammatory properties and work pretty much the same way as NSAIDs (by suppressing the enzymes involved in producing prostaglandins). 

There's also evidence that CBD keeps the body from producing so much prostaglandin, a trait it shares with another major cannabinoid—tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. (Which is why taking full-spectrum or whole-plant CBD is important.)

In fact, CBD has been shown to alleviate inflammatory conditions much more serious than period pain. Think arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.

CBD has been shown to alleviate inflammatory conditions much more serious than period pain.

RELATED: What Does "Full Spectrum CBD" Mean?

7.2 Relieves Pain

Its analgesic effects are also well-recorded if working with other cannabis compounds. These would include other cannabinoids (like THC), ligands, terpenes...the list goes on.

Prostaglandins and other inflammatory molecules are said to render the nervous system more sensitive to pain. It is thought that both CBD and THC combat this by targeting specific nerve receptors associated with decreasing pain sensation. 

7.3 Relaxes Muscles

Menstrual cramps are exacerbated by excessive contractions of the smooth muscle lining the uterus. CBD and other cannabinoids are said to target different receptors in this muscle tissue to relax contractions.

CBD is said to relax contractions of the smooth muscle lining the uterus.

7.4 Vascular Relaxant

The same smooth muscle lines blood vessels. So, when the cannabis compounds cause this muscle to relax, blood flow increases. The theory is that this increased blood flow could help relieve oxygen-starved tissues, and in this way, decrease period pain.

7.5 Reduces Breast and Lower Abdomen Tenderness 

The so-called vanilloid receptor in the ECS can be found in certain lower back, breast, and stomach tissues. CBD regulates this receptor, and its action is thought to moderate pain perception in these areas.

CBD Reduces Breast and Lower Abdomen Tenderness

7.6 Manages Stress and Anxiety 

CBD has superstar status for alleviating anxietystress, and insomnia. This matters. As most women will tell you—anxiety and high emotional stress levels before and during menstruation seem to exacerbate painful periods.

Stress and anxiety are furthermore synonymous with tight muscles. In addition, pain is known to cause anxiety and stress all of its own. CBD can break this pain cycle, as it is also touted to inhibit the release of the famous stress hormone cortisol. 

To top all this—remember the previously mentioned endocannabinoid anandamide? CBD slows its breakdown in the body, which means even more of the good feels.

CBD has superstar status for alleviating anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

RELATED: Doing It Wrong? How to Dose CBD Oil for Anxiety

7.7 Helps With Depression

Some animal studies have linked CBD with preventing and alleviating depression. This is explained by CBD's apparent ability to modulate feel-good neurotransmitters such as 5-HT1A and other markers associated with depressive states. [6]

Lessening anxiety also will have a mood-lifting effect. It is thought that these mood states are all entangled with one another, so successfully alleviating one often automatically removes the others.

RELATED: CBD Mood Stabilizers - Is It A Thing?

7.8 Decreases Bloating 

As mentioned, the ECS receptors are found abundantly in the gastrointestinal tract. Balancing this system could, theoretically, result in less bloating during periods.

CBD may help reduce bloating during periods.

8. Prevention

As the old adage reminds us—prevention is better than cure. (If you paid attention, you should have noticed that CBD can even play a role here!)

Let's look at some of the necessary measures to take for preventing severe period pain.

8.1 Adjust Your Diet

Increase your water, fruit, and vegetable intake and decrease the intake of unhealthy fat, alcohol, caffeine, and processed sweet stuff. Do this slowly and incrementally, so as not to shock you out of your new health routine as soon as you start. 

Unhealthy eating negatively affects the homeostasis in the body, including the hormonal system. So it makes sense that a good diet will eventually result in calmer menstrual periods.

A good diet will eventually result in calmer menstrual periods.

8.2 Exercise Regularly

A stagnant thing is a sick thing. Think of a pool of stagnant water—after a while, very few living organisms can stand it. Similarly, your body needs movement in order to function properly. Even gentle and limited-but-regular amounts of exercise are better than nothing.

8.3 Reduce Stress

This one was mentioned before. The previous two lifestyle adjustments will help with stress reduction, as will taking CBD. [7]

Other stress-reducing activities include:

  • daily meditation 
  • mindfulness practices [8]
  • reading, listening to music, watching comedy shows
  • creative activities like painting, cooking, singing, etc.
  • taking care of a pet
  • spending leisure time with friends and/or loved ones
  • being in nature...the list goes on

Diet and exercise too will help with stress reduction, as will taking CBD.

8.4 Quit Smoking

Smoking tobacco has been found to disrupt the endocrine system. Nicotine in cigarettes is also known to increase stress hormones in the body. Just ditch this habit already—it is only harmful. 

Again, like with dietary changes, doing this so it doesn't shock your system excessively could improve your chances of succeeding.

In a Nutshell

Menstruation is different for every woman, but many experience menstrual cramps, back pain, and more on a monthly basis. More clinical evidence is called for, but cannabidiol can be an effective remedy for menstrual cramps and related issues—perhaps even better than prescription medicine.

Sources:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/157333.php
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279323/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081099/
  4. https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/anti-inflammatory-drugs#1
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-Ebers-Papyrus-left-image-ca-1550-BCE-from-Ancient-Egypt-has-a-prescription-for_fig1_29043096
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24923339
  7. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/jsep/10/4/article-p431.xml
  8. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-09648-001

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