Does Cannabis Alleviate Period Pain?

New Treatments for PMS

Research suggests that cannabis can assist in the management of symptoms associated with PMS. [1]

Premenstrual syndrome is often extremely unpleasant for those who experience it. Every month, women are faced with debilitating headaches, mood swings, bloating, severe cramps, and other painful symptoms. Many women have tried it all – prescription pain medication, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, massage, witchcraft. [3] Still, they seek new options in managing their symptoms, and cannabis has received a lot of attention lately, in that regard. [1]

When it comes to weed and PMS, though, our ancestors were way ahead of us. [1] In a historical review of cannabis and its role in obstetrics and gynaecology, published in 2002, it was noted that cannabis has long been a part of women’s health. [5] There are examples of 16th-century Chinese medical texts, which clearly list cannabis (or “ma,” as it was called in the text) as a medicine for easing cramps during menstruation. [1] Even Queen Elizabeth used cannabis to treat her menstrual cramps. In fact, for a long time, Victorian doctors regularly prescribed cannabis for menstrual pain; Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy (1809-1889) introduced cannabis to modern Western medicine, developing it as a mainstream treatment for muscle tension. [11]

Unfortunately, modern research into cannabis and its role in women’s health is scarce. Nonetheless, we can generalise what we know from medicinal cannabis to explore the potential benefits for women experiencing premenstrual symptoms.

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Potential Painkiller?

The benefits women experience from medicinal cannabis generally stem from its painkilling effects. [1] Painful cramps are a common symptom of PMS, caused by the release of prostaglandins which trigger muscles to tense up. [4] These cramps can affect women from the first days of menstruation, all the way to the end. Additionally, this tension reduces the blood supply to the uterus, causing very painful spasms. [4] Some even report these cramps to be as viscerally agonising as a heart attack. [2]

When it comes to the treatment of period cramps, the options are often frustratingly limited. [2] There are oral contraceptives designed to prevent ovulation, and therefore prostaglandin production. There are also non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and drugs like paracetamol… so, again, not exactly ideal.

However… new research suggests that women can benefit from the pain-relieving properties of both THC and CBD. Preclinical research by Ethan Russo published in the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests that THC can act as a muscle relaxant. If it can ease muscle tension, it can do the same for the cramps during a period. [6] To test these effects for yourself, try using a topical solution with THC and applying it to your lower abdomen. Alternatively, consider vaporisation, or a concentrate, but beware that you’ll be left dealing with the high that follows. If you want to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC, you may want to consider microdosing or using a product or strain with low levels of THC. CBD-rich strains may be a good alternative, although THC is typically considered a better painkiller.

Migraine Medicine

Headaches and migraines are also very common symptoms of PMS. Luckily, research suggests that cannabis may help alleviate them, too. [7] According to a 2016 study published in Pharmacotherapy, cannabis can help reduce monthly migraines. The study included 121 adult participants dealing with regular migraines, measuring the effects that cannabis use had on the patients. Among those patients using cannabis, the number of monthly migraines dropped from 10.4 to 4.6. [7]

It’s important to note that this study didn’t specifically look at headaches associated with PMS. Nonetheless, the fact that cannabis drove down headaches in the test group by over 50% is noteworthy. [7]

Again, if you suffer from headaches during PMS and are looking for an alternative treatment, cannabis may be a great option. We recommend microdosing THC, or consuming via a tincture. [3] Alternatively, you may want to opt for edibles for a more controlled dose. [8]

Useful Mood Regulator

We all know that cannabis affects how we feel. When it comes to PMS, that can be a really good thing. The changes that take place in a woman’s body during or before menstruation often cause strong, rapid mood swings, which can be difficult to control. Women typically experience these mood swings in the days leading up to a period, known as the luteal phase. As the body prepares to shed uterine tissue, it undergoes myriad changes. [1]

We know that many people turn to cannabis for an emotional boost. In fact, studies show that cannabis may help people dealing with the emotional stress of mental issues, such as anxiety and depression. [9] These effects are generally attributed to the non-psychoactive CBD compound, which has been shown to act as an effective treatment for anxiety. [10] CBD may even temporarily block the absorption of serotonin in the brain. This boost of serotonin could help reduce symptoms of anxiety and also help improve or stabilise one’s mood. [1]

Cannabis and Menstrual Health

Cannabis is receiving a lot of attention, these days. The growing body of research on the plant and its compounds are providing us humans with new ways to use the plant, spurring new opportunities for people to live long, happy, healthy and prosperous lives.

It’s important to note that there’s a real shortage of research into ganja and its effects on PMS. Nonetheless, there’s a strong body of literature supporting the idea that it can help relieve pain, muscular tension and headaches; it could possibly help lift your mood, too. [1] It acts as an ailment for commonly purported symptoms of premenstrual syndrome

While we have no specific studies on the topic, you may want to consider self-medicating using cannabis and assessing how it helps you manage your PMS symptoms.

Have you ever used cannabis to alleviate menstrual pain? Let us know of your experiences in the comments.

Sources Cited:

[1] Royal Queen Seeds – Can Cannabis Help Relieve Pre-Menstrual Syndrome? (April 6th, 2018)

[2] Marijuana and Menstrual Pain: How Pot Can Help with Periods (April 20th, 2018)

[3] Bustle – I Tried 7 Cannabis Products For Cramps & Here’s What Worked (December 22nd, 2016)

[4] The Guardian – Could weed be used to treat period pain?

[5] NLM Catalog – Women and cannabis : medicine, science, and sociology

[6] Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects

[7] Effects of Medical Marijuana on Migraine Headache Frequency in an Adult Population

[8] Friendly Aussie Buds – Our Simple Cannabutter Recipe

Our Simple Cannabutter Recipe (Works Every Time!)

[9] ProjectCBD – Anxiety/Depression

[10] Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

[11] Medical Cannabis: A Short Graphical History

Author: Matt

Writer and University Student Based In Sydney

Writer and University Student Based In Sydney


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Sunny Urban
Sunny Urban
5 years ago

Damn right it does! Better than any painkiller I’ve ever tried. Haven’t touched any kind of painkiller since I started smoking ??

Joe Lagrasso
4 years ago
Reply to  Sunny Urban

That’s amazing to hear!

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