Cramps, bloating, achiness–saying that periods are not fun would be an understatement. For some, they can be totally debilitating. The usual remedies, like a hot water bottle or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, can help, but cannabidiol (CBD) presents a natural solution that can also help take the edge off for some. If you're trying to avoid traditional painkillers, keep reading.
How CBD Helps with Period Pain
To understand how CBD can reduce period pain, it's important that we first understand what causes it in the first place. For most of us, the major pains experienced during menstruation are cramps. The uterus has a muscular wall that contracts during the period in order to cut off blood and oxygen supply, which forces the lining of the uterus to shed itself. Period pain can be much worse for those suffering from endometriosis or fibroids.
Prostaglandins are the main hormones involved in the menstruation process, including cramps, inflammation, and pain are called prostaglandins. One of the ways in which CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory might be its ability to inhibit prostaglandin production in the body, which explains why CBD can reduce period pain and cramping!
"Both CBD and NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) block enzymes responsible for making prostaglandin, which in turn alleviates PMS symptoms," explains Liz Sprinkle, the founder of Love Always, Liz CBD!
"NSAIDs commonly have gastrointestinal side effects and CBD has become a more popular treatment in lieu of Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or Midol," she further elaborates.
As with many other health topics related to CBD, it's important to note that while the science that exists is exciting and there are many promising anecdotes from people who swear by it, there also hasn't been enough research to prove anything conclusively. With that said, there doesn't seem to be much harm in trying it and seeing if it works for you.
How to Take CBD for Period Pain
Vaping, smoking, drops, creams… CBD comes in a ton of different formats, but what's most effective for reducing the pain associated with menstruation?
Most users report that smoking or vaping CBD is the most helpful method for them, but this format is not convenient for most newcomers. Ingestible CBD in the form of tinctures, capsules, or gummies is the next best method for that fast internal relief, but the quantity needed to reduce pain is on the higher side.
It's best to start out with lower amounts and to gradually increase your dose until you find the perfect quantity for you. Thankfully, we know that even at high doses there is no risk of overdose.
Topical CBD is another option. For some, applying a CBD ointment to the abdomen or lower back works even more quickly than ingesting CBD, although usually, the pain-alleviating result is milder and more localized.
"I personally believe treating both the inside out and the outside in is most effective," Sprinkle suggests. "In the days leading up to my period, I take a 10mg dose of Love Always, Liz CBD's 600mg oil to help ease mood swings, fatigue, and cravings." Once her period sets in, she increases her dose to 40mg and also applies Always, Liz CBD's Period Relief Roll-On to her pelvic area and lower back.
It may seem a little odd, but brands like ForiaWellness believe that suppositories are actually the ideal way of delivering CBD directly to the source of the pain. Call us prudes, but we'll wait until they finish their medical study on the topic before we give our endorsement to the method.
If you live in a place where both CBD and THC are legal, then you might prefer to take both, particularly products with a higher CBD to THC ratio, since some studies suggest that the two cannabinoids offer better pain relief when combined.
CBD and Your Cycle
The endocannabinoid system is involved with a lot of processes in the human body, and one of the things it influences is the hormone-producing pituitary gland and the overall balance of hormones in the body. When taken internally, CBD impacts the human endocannabinoid system, so it can have wide-reaching effects on hormones, including the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.
It's not possible to predict exactly how (or if) CBD will impact your cycle. No studies have been published on the effects of CBD on the menstrual cycle, but some people have noticed instances of CBD causing early periods, delayed periods, longer periods, and sometimes even no periods at all. These cases are in the minority, with most not noticing an impact on their cycle.
For some, including Sprinkle, the effect of CBD on the cycle can be a positive one. "I noticed over time with consistent CBD use, my normal seven day period decreased to three days from start to finish[…] My overall quality of life has improved tenfold and it is solely because of CBD."
If your cycle changes for the worse after you start taking CBD, it might be better to reduce the dose or stop taking it altogether, and to speak to your doctor.