The vast majority of people who menstruate experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or dysmenorrhea — that’s the medical term for period pain or cramps. Yep, those jabbing pains get their own fancy name!
PMS affects three out of four menstruating women.(1) Symptoms usually kick in the days or weeks leading up to their periods. Cramps and discomfort can continue through menstruation.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they can be physical as well as emotional. Thanks, hormones.
Some women have embraced cannabidiol oil, also known as CBD oil, to ease their bothersome period symptoms.
There are currently over 150 documented symptoms of PMS. We can’t go into detail about all of them in this article — well, we could, but we’re guessing you have a life to get back to. Instead, we’re touching on some of the most commonly reported PMS and period issues and how CBD may help. We’re talking:
But first, let’s explore what benefits CBD oil has over conventional PMS relief solutions.
There’s no shortage of pills, creams, and devices that aim to combat the symptoms of PMS and period pain. But some of these products don’t work for some women. Others have undesirable side effects.
Enter: CBD. It brings along wellness benefits like neuroprotective and stress relieving properties. Since CBD’s typically very well tolerated, you can often use it alongside other treatments.
That said, you should chat with your gynecologist or healthcare provider about using CBD oil if you’re taking any medications or have a medical condition.
Here’s where CBD might be an all-natural winner over other PMS and period pain therapies.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers (NSAIDs) have long been recommended for cramps and period pain. They can provide relief, but they come with possible side effects such as increased risk of stroke and gastrointestinal issues.
With CBD, side effects are usually mild if they happen at all. CBD oil also has well-documented anti-inflammatory properties that can alleviate cramps, backaches, headaches, and other pain related to menstruation.(2)
Unlike over-the-counter pills and products that target one or a few symptoms like cramps or bloating, CBD works holistically. It engages with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a communication system for the body and mind.
That makes it more versatile and fit to help with the laundry list of physical and emotional symptoms associated with menstruation. And who doesn’t love a multitasker?
Birth control may be prescribed to manage period issues, but mounting evidence suggests this can lead to post-birth control syndrome and long-term health challenges.(3)
CBD oil is a hormone-free option for those who want to manage their period symptoms without birth control.
Now that we know the benefits of CBD oil for PMS, cramps, and all that not-so-fun stuff, let’s take a closer look at how CBD might help specific menstrual symptoms.
Menstrual cramps can be an annoyance for some and debilitating for others. At the root of cramps are hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins.
Leading up to a period, cells in the uterus produce prostaglandins, which are on a mission to cause the muscles around the uterus contract. This helps the uterine lining shed, but it can also become pretty painful when it goes into overdrive.
Research has found a link between high prostaglandin levels and painful periods.(4)
Prostaglandins are a part of the body’s inflammatory response. This is where CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can save the day. CBD and other cannabinoids naturally present in CBD oil have been found to block prostaglandin production, thereby reducing the presence of these little pain-inducing buggers.(5)
Feeling blue or irritable is something many people associate with PMS and menstruation. In fact, about half of those who experience PMS have anxiety or depression.(6)
While using CBD for depression and anxiety hasn’t been studied in a women’s health context, several studies have found that CBD may be a viable therapy for depression and anxiety. Many CBD users report that CBD helps them feel more balanced and blissful.
Scientists are still learning exactly how CBD oil helps with mood, but it’s believed to help modulate the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin.
For some women, cravings for chocolate, sweet, or salty foods is a sure sign Aunt Flow is on the way. Others might experience the opposite — nausea causing lack of appetite.
Munchies can be bearable. Nausea can be — well — nauseating.
The good news is that CBD might help. It’s been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting in animals and humans.(7) So if you find yourself turning down meals at that time of the month, you might consider adding CBD oil to the mix.
In case you needed to hear it: It’s not uncommon to have trouble sleeping or insomnia as your period approaches.
Sleep issues related to menstruation may be due to fluctuations in hormones. An uptick in estrogen or a sudden decrease in progesterone can have you tossing and turning through the night.(9)
The ECS doesn’t directly control the endocrine system (your hormonal hub), but the systems do work together to help your body maintain homeostasis. One of the functions the endocrine-endocannabinoid system relationship controls is sleep.
As CBD interacts with the ECS, it has the potential to help improve sleep. Many people use CBD for this very reason. Using CBD oil with melatonin (the sleep hormone) may give you an even better chance of keeping the Zzzz going.
As if wanting to curl up in bed with a heating pad on your belly wasn’t enough, people who menstruate might also have to deal with monthly breakouts and blemishes.
Turns out, CBD might be able to help with that, too!(10) Here’s how:
Like all good things in life, CBD oil is something that requires a bit of time and patience.
But patience might be the last thing you have when you’re riding an emotional rollercoaster or calling off work due to the stabbing pain in your abdomen. That’s why it’s a good idea to take CBD regularly — not just when period woes crop up.
You might go for some CBD softgels or CBD oil tincture each day. As your period gets closer, you can adjust the dose as needed, or even add in another product for your specific symptoms. Here are some ideas of what that might look like.
Layer in different CBD products to find your PMS relief recipe. Just be sure to keep an eye on the dosage guidelines so you don’t overdo it. If you experience dizziness, nausea, or fatigue, it’s time to pause the CBD.
This isn’t — by any means — an exhaustive list of PMS symptoms or how CBD might be able to support your wellbeing throughout your monthly cycle.As we continue learning about CBD for women’s health, more specifics on its uses for PMS and period symptoms will likely follow. For now, we know that CBD is a natural way to help alleviate the physical and mental symptoms related to PMS and menstruation.
Don’t wait for period issues to take hold of you before getting started with CBD. Bring it into your routine for the best chance of relief from PMS and bothersome periods.
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