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The Top 8 Ways CBD Helps Relieve Menstrual Cramps



Every month, a large number of us women experience bloating, mood swings, menstrual cramps, back pain, and feeling, well, just a bit bleurgh. And for many women, this is seen as an inevitable part of life.

Contents

  1. What Are Menstrual Cramps?
  2. Do NSAIDs Work? Well, Sort Of
  3. What Is CBD?
  4. How Does CBD Work?
  5. What Causes Menstrual Pain, and How Can CBD Help?
  6. What Makes CBD a Better Alternative?
  7. Eight Ways CBD Oil Supports Your Period Pains and Other Woes:
    1. Reduces Inflammation
    2. Relieves Pain
    3. Relaxes Muscles
    4. Vascular Relaxant
    5. Reduces Breast and Lower Abdomen Tenderness
    6. Manages Stress and Anxiety
    7. Prevents Mood Swings
    8. Decreases Bloating
  8. What Does the Data Say About CBD And Women’s Health?
  9. Professional Thoughts on CBD Tinctures and Topical Creams
  10. A Celebrity Endorses CBD Oil for Menstrual Pain
  11. Prevention
  12. In a Nutshell

What Are Menstrual Cramps? 

As explained by Medical News Today, “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.” [1]

Here are some fast facts on period cramps: [1]

  • Menstrual cramps are pains felt in the lower abdomen, before and during menstruation.
  • The pain can range from slight to severe.
  • Emotional stress can increase the chance of experiencing menstrual cramps.
  • Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sweating, dizziness, headaches, and diarrhea.
  • Menstrual cramps can be treated with over-the-counter medicine, birth control treatments, and some home remedies.

Menstrual cramps are pains felt in the lower abdomen, before and during menstruation.

Do NSAIDs Work? Well, Sort Of

Foria Wellness answers: “When their periods kick in, most women reach for an Ibuprofen or similar NSAID (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug). Why are NSAIDs the most frequently-prescribed treatment for menstrual pain?” [2]

“NSAIDs work by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for producing prostaglandins. This means that NSAIDs could potentially decrease all the symptoms aggravated by prostaglandins—including inflammation, contractions and pain.” [2]

“Unfortunately, NSAIDs can also have unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects. For this reason, NSAIDs should be used with moderation, and people with certain digestive issues might want to avoid them entirely.” [2]

When the period pain kicks in, most women reach for an Ibuprofen or similar NSAID.

What Is CBD?

Remedy Review explains: “One of the most prevalent medicinal compounds of the cannabis plant is cannabidiol, or CBD. It interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (responsible for regulating homeostasis) by stimulating certain receptors in the nervous, reproductive, and immune systems. When it comes to utilizing it as a treatment, CBD comes in tons of different forms, including tinctures, crystals, waxes, vaping liquids, and even edible gummies.” [3]

“Since CBD is easy to administer and has limited known side-effects, it’s quickly becoming a go-to for women who experience discomfort during their periods. That being said, it’s always important to know the facts as well as the potential dangers before utilizing any kind of treatment.” [3]

RELATED: CBD is Safe. Here’s the Data...

How Does CBD Work?

In a post on Byrdie, Erin Jahns asked Adam Friedman, MD, FAAD, at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, “But what exactly happens within the body after the two best-known and most-studied cannabinoids, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), are ingested? And on a more specific note, what does any of this have to do with debilitating PMS symptoms like cramps, sleeplessness, anxiety, and the like?” [4]

Friedman answered: "Interestingly, it was the study of marijuana that initially led to the groundbreaking discovery of the human endocannabinoid system (meaning, we make our very own cannabinoids and receptors for them, which make up an extraordinary biological network that plays a role in everything from sensations of pain and itch to mood, inflammation regulation, and wound healing). Essentially, it's the gold star of drugs." THC and CBD have very different properties, and CBD lacks the psychoactive effects commonly attributed to marijuana.” [4]

CBD is the gold star of drugs.

RELATED: The CBD Effects: Why CBD Oil Makes You Feel Good

What Causes Menstrual Pain, and How Can CBD Help?

Remedy Review elaborates on this: “Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions of the uterus. Basically, the muscles clench and release in an attempt to more efficiently shed the uterine lining, and this clenching results in the abdominal pain that women often feel during their periods. Cramps can be especially painful if you have endometriosis, non-cancerous growths, or irregular pelvic inflammation, because obstructions and swelling make it much harder for the lining to shed.” [3]

“CBD has anti-inflammatory qualities that can help regulate the pain caused by prostaglandins—the hormone-like compounds that prompt uterine contractions in the first place. However, cannabis also has “relaxant and analgesic effects,” meaning that it encourages the muscles in the abdomen to relax and stop contracting so aggressively.” [3]

What Makes CBD a Better Alternative?

Neuroscientist and holistic wellness expert, Leigh Winters, said in a Byrdie interview: "Cannabis- and CBD-infused products are the next big trend in reproductive health because they are so effective and relatively safe at the concentrations found in many commercial products." [4]

“The major key: the quality and sourcing of the products play a huge role in its safety and ability to help with PMS symptoms.” [4]

"The truth is that the relief you can expect really depends on the quality of the product. If you have unbearable cramping, CBD products can alleviate those painful bouts of searing pain that leave you unproductive and unable to focus on anything else. CBD has been demonstrated to promote muscle relaxation while reducing stress and inflammation. Within a few minutes of using a topical product or ingesting, you'll feel relief." [4]

Foria Wellness examines if CBD is a better alternative: “Recently, scientists discovered that—similar to NSAIDs—CBD also inhibits the prostaglandin-producing enzyme. However—unlike NSAIDs—CBD’s anti-inflammatory benefits come without the gastrointestinal side effects.” [2]

“Added bonus: Not only does CBD inhibit the prostaglandins, but both CBD and THC physically stop your DNA from producing so much of this compound in the first place.” [2]

Unlike NSAIDs—CBD’s anti-inflammatory benefits come without the gastrointestinal side effects.

RELATED: CBD, Gut Health, and Digestion—Is There a Link?

Eight Ways CBD Oil Supports Your Period Pains and Other Woes

Foria Wellness highlights the additional cannabinoid benefits: “By decreasing prostaglandin levels during your period, you can reduce inflammation, pain and cramps. However, you cannot entirely eliminate prostaglandins. This means that you could benefit from combining a prostaglandin-reducing treatment with other treatments that target the discomforts caused by prostaglandins.” [2]

CBD and other cannabinoids can help in dealing with painful menstrual cramps in the following ways:

1. Reduces Inflammation 

“Cannabinoids have many anti-inflammatory activities beyond reducing production of inflammatory prostaglandins. For instance, THC activates endocannabinoid receptors (CB2) located on your immune system’s killer cells (macrophages). When these receptors are activated, they prevent macrophages from releasing inflammatory proteins (cytokines).” [2]

Cannabinoids have many anti-inflammatory activities beyond reducing production of inflammatory prostaglandins.

2. Relieves Pain 

“Although prostaglandins and other inflammatory molecules can make pain-perceiving nerves more sensitive, cannabinoids fight back by desensitizing these nerves. Both CBD and THC target nerve receptors that help decrease the sensation of pain. Additionally, not only does CBD desensitize these nerves, but those soothing effects can spread to neighboring pain receptors.” [2]

3. Relaxes Muscles

“Menstrual cramps are exacerbated by contractions of the smooth muscle lining the uterus — and cannabinoids are widely recognized to relax smooth muscles. THC and CBD both target different receptors embedded in the muscle tissue to relax contractions.” [2]

CBD relieves menstrual cramps by relaxing the muscles.

4. Vascular Relaxant 

“Blood vessels are also lined with smooth muscle, and when cannabinoids trigger this smooth muscle to relax, blood flow increases. Increased blood flow could help provide relief to oxygen-starved tissues, further decreasing painful cramps.” [2]

5. Reduces Breast and Lower Abdomen Tenderness 

Plant People shed light on more ways CBD oil can support your menstrual cramps: “CBD is the ultimate natural cure for healing inflamed areas like breasts, stomach and low back. It regulates the vanilloid receptor––that moderates the pain perception in these areas.” [5]

6. Manages Stress and Anxiety 

“CBD helps the body manage and deal with stress. With its anti-anxiety properties, CBD not only inhibits the release of the stress hormone, Cortisol, but also slows the breakdown of endocannabinoid, Anandamide (more commonly known as the “bliss molecule”). Consequently, you will find yourself unbothered by even the most painful and annoying PMS symptoms.” [5]

CBD helps the body manage and deal with stress and anxiety.

RELATED: CBD and Anxiety Relief

7. Prevents Mood Swings 

“Hormonal imbalance is very common during PMS and unfortunately, plays a large role in causing mood swings. CBD can help you recalibrate your emotional responses; CBD interacts with our body’s Endocannabinoid system.” [5]

RELATED: Is CBD a Mood Stabilizer?

8. Decreases Bloating 

“By improving digestive functions and reducing inflammation and nausea throughout your body, CBD can help attenuate cramping and bloating.” [5]

What Does the Data Say About CBD And Women’s Health?

Remedy Review responds: “Several recent studies point to CBD as a promising source of relief for inflammation, pain, and spasms. A 2014 study from the PLoS One journal reports a significant decrease of inflammation and degeneration in those suffering from intervertebral disc disease. Those who wrote the study called CBD “one of the most promising candidates… for clinical use,” since it’s able to block pain and reduce swelling without psychotogenic effects. (In other words, it helps you to feel better without interfering with your cognitive function.) A different study in Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders recognizes CBD’s positive effects on spasticity—specifically for those with multiple sclerosis.” [3]

“The aforementioned disorders obviously differ from issues within women’s health, but since menstrual cramps are ultimately a symptom of inflammation and muscle spasms, this seems like a promising solution—specifically for people who require a treatment that won’t interfere with their daily routines.” [3]

“Additionally, it’s possible that the benefits don’t stop at just cramps; CBD might be able to help with other period symptoms too. Another study from 2016 notes the positive effects of CBD on psychiatric conditions (like addiction, anxiety, and depression), and says that ancient civilizations “documented the medicinal use of cannabis, outlining its effectiveness in the treatment of [menstrual cramps and mental well-being].” This is great news not only for people who experience pain, but also for those who experience psychological symptoms during their cycles.” [3]

It’s possible that the CBD benefits don’t stop at just menstrual cramps.

RELATED: CBD Oil and Fertility: Do You Have All the Facts?

Professional Thoughts on CBD Tinctures and Topical Creams

In these excerpts from the Byrdie interview, Erin Jahns gets a scientific and medical opinion from both Winters and Friedman: “As you may know (or as you're soon to find out), high-quality and reliably sourced cannabis products will cost you a pretty penny. So, is it worth it?” [4]

“When asked which (if any) kinds of cannabis-infused products they'd recommend for PMS relief, the consensus was cannabis-enriched products can most certainly be used for PMS. The rub: some might have more efficacy than others.” [4]

"I always recommend a period-relief CBD tincture because it's easy to integrate into an existing routine and effective," Winters tells us. "While there's an unfortunate dearth of clinical data studying these new formulations and products, tinctures seem to anecdotally win out among all product offerings. Many tinctures come with specific instructions, but you can either put a few drops under your tongue or add a dropperful (sometimes more) to a glass of water or tea. I'm also a big fan of topical CBD salve that you can massage on the lower abdomen. The relief of a topical cream or salve will likely not be as immediate as that of a tincture, but a gentle massage can greatly ameliorate discomfort." [4]

CBD tincture is recommended for period pains. Add a few drops to a cup of tea.

“Friedman elaborates: "First off, many of the over-the-counter CBD-containing creams have other scientifically proven analgesic compounds like menthol, camphor, and capsaicin, so it's hard to know what's doing the heavy lifting. Second, we have a good amount of animal data, but not many human studies, where topically applied cannabinoids are concerned. So to be honest, who is to know without the clinical science." That being said, he reassures us these types of treatments (again, if high-quality and trustworthy) certainly won't hurt you, and it's worth experimenting if you're interested in an alternative way to treat PMS symptoms. (And live in a state or region where these types of products are legalized, of course.)” [4]

“All in all, and despite the fact that the taboo surrounding marijuana is perhaps still stronger than many would like, the future seems to be rather bright medicinally speaking, and as both experts confirmed, knowledge is power.” [4]

You can massage CBD balm on the lower abdomen to alleviate discomfort.

A Celebrity Endorses CBD Oil for Menstrual Pain

Around the globe, millions use and can vouch for hugely positive CBD oil effects. If this New York Times article indicates anything, CBD lotions, balms, and other preparations are already popular among celebrities.

Whoopi Goldberg is a fearless advocate not only for CBD oil and medical cannabis but also for women's rights. She has her own cannabis product line aimed at the female market. In a Daily Beast interview, her take on the New Jersey Governor who opposed most state attempts to improve its medical marijuana program, as well as proposals to include menstrual pain on the list of qualifying conditions, was:

"It’s not too hard for me (to manage my business from the East Coast)—but what is hard is that when it comes to menstrual cramps, my governor in New Jersey doesn’t believe that’s a real pain. He’s said that a couple of times...[Medical marijuana] is the new penicillin. There are so many things it helps, why wouldn’t you want this in our lives?" 

Well said.

She's not the only eloquent celebrity in this quest to make CBD oil effects public along with its medical uses. [6]

A Celebrity Endorses CBD Oil for Menstrual Pain

Prevention

Medical News Today lists the measures that may reduce the risk of menstrual cramps: [1]

  • eating fruits and vegetables and limiting intake of fat, alcohol, caffeine, salt, and sweets
  • exercising regularly
  • reducing stress
  • quitting smoking

In a Nutshell

Menstruation is different for every woman, but many women experience menstrual cramps, back pain and more on a monthly basis.

Remedy Review says: “Using cannabis for women’s health issues is nothing new. Queen Victoria was known to use cannabis to treat her menstrual cramps.” [3]

Seconded by Plant People: “using cannabis to treat PMS dates back to 16th-century Chinese medical texts, so why should today be any different?” [5]

Sources –

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/157333.php
  2. https://www.foriawellness.com/blogs/learn/natural-pain-relief-cramps-cbd-thc
  3. https://www.remedyreview.com/health/can-cbd-help-reduce-period-pain-and-menstrual-cramps/
  4. https://www.byrdie.com/cannabis-for-pms
  5. https://plantpeople.co/blog-cbd-oil-for-menstrual-cramps/
  6. https://www.solcbd.com/blogs/news/does-cbd-oil-work-celebrities

References –

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18556441

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269422/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4710104/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5818147/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/30/style/cbd-oil-beauty-cannabis-pain-relief.html

https://www.thedailybeast.com/whoopi-goldbergs-pot-biz-says-weed-is-the-new-penicillin-for-period-pain

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nlmcatalog/101152696


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