More than 90 percent of women experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), according to the US Department of Health & Human Services. PMS can interfere with your body’s most basic everyday functions, such as sleep, appetite, digestion, and immune function – to name a few. Whether you experience mild or severe symptoms or none at all is partly a reflection of your body’s overall state of balance. Your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is intricately involved in maintaining internal balance, known as homeostasis. It plays an important behind-the-scenes role in regulating your menstrual cycle. CBD activates the ECS and may alleviate some of the most common premenstrual and menstrual symptoms — and it does all this without the intoxicating effects of THC.
CBD oil for menstrual cramps
These painful uterine contractions, which often start a week or two before your period and continue all the way through, are triggered by hormone-like molecules called prostaglandins, which are part of your inflammation and pain-signaling pathways. Production of these molecules spikes around the same time that cramps generally appear.
CBD has anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-reducing) effects that target prostaglandin production, and some women find that CBD helps alleviate their period cramps. Interestingly, there is some historical evidence that Queen Victoria used cannabis for this purpose. In clinical trials, a CBD-based drug demonstrated the ability to reduce difficult-to-treat muscle tension significantly.
For many women, fluctuating hormone levels lead to frustrating bouts with cyclical acne. Topical treatments can help mask these unsightly breakouts and may help them heal faster. Preventing them from occurring in the first place is certainly preferable, and CBD may help with that. A tissue culture study found that CBD inhibited excess production of oils, known as sebum, from sebaceous glands. And, as you know, getting your skin’s oil production under control goes a long way toward controlling breakouts.
Additionally, a component in full-spectrum CBD oil, known as limonene, has been found to have antibacterial effects against two of the main bacteria that cause acne. Topical CBD products used throughout the month, as needed, are good for this purpose, increasing as you approach your acne-prone days. Don’t be surprised if you start to see limonene listed as an ingredient in some of your favorite cosmetic products in the near future.
Whether you head straight for the ice cream or dive into chocolate, chips, cheeseburgers, or all of the above, the struggle with food cravings is real and can be overwhelming. Rapidly fluctuating hormones don’t give your body a lot of time to adapt, and estrogen drops rapidly in the days before your period, triggering your levels of the stress hormone cortisol to rise. This puts your body in survival mode, which means it thinks it needs to eat a lot of high energy foods.
Low serotonin levels can also contribute to pre-menstrual food cravings and are thought to be responsible for the sweet cravings, in particular. CBD may help you head off cravings ahead of your next period. Preliminary studies show that CBD may lower cortisol output and increase serotonin activity.
Your estrogen levels are at their highest a week or so before your period starts. At this time, estrogen can cause blood vessel constriction, which can lead to menstrual headaches. High levels of prostaglandins at this time of the month, combined with low levels of endorphins (your brain’s natural painkillers), can also set the stage for headaches. CBD may help you avert or minimize menstrual headaches by activating your endocannabinoid system to maintain high levels of anandamide, your brain’s natural cannabinoid. Named for the Sanskrit word for “bliss,” this natural cannabinoid is a powerful painkiller with virtually no side effects. CBD also reduces prostaglandin levels by inhibiting inflammation.
Constipation or Diarrhea
The majority of women experience constipation, diarrhea, or both at certain times throughout their monthly cycle. A week or two before your period starts is when you are more likely to develop constipation. This is when your progesterone levels are highest, and progesterone is known to inhibit muscle contraction and slow down intestinal peristalsis.
As progesterone levels fall, bowel function picks up, but at the same time, prostaglandin levels rise. Prostaglandins cause smooth muscle to contract. This causes the uterus to expel the uterine lining and also causes the bowels to contract more than normal, leading to diarrhea. CBD may help with diarrhea by increasing the activity of anandamide and by short-circuiting the signals for muscle contraction, thereby calming the muscles and preventing excessive muscle contraction.
There is hardly a better example of the mind-body connection than the emotional roller coaster that takes over many women’s moods and emotions during the premenstrual phase of their monthly cycle. These swings can be rapid and run the gamut from mild irritability and/or sadness to bouts of anger, anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression.
The culprit is the rapid drop in estrogen that occurs a week or so prior to the onset of menstruation. This causes a decrease in serotonin, and that is what sends you into an emotional tailspin. CBD may offer welcome relief for this unsettling time. CBD works by increasing the activity of serotonin, and there is considerable evidence supporting its anti-anxiety and anti-depressive effects. In a clinical trial of patients diagnosed with chronic anxiety and insomnia, 79 percent reported reduced anxiety, and 67 percent reported improved sleep within one month.
If forgetfulness and lack of ability to focus your thoughts plague you during your period, you’re not alone. This happens due to fluctuations in levels of estrogen and progesterone, which influence cognitive processing speeds. Anxiety and insomnia are also contributing factors to cognitive function. While the jury is out on whether CBD can affect these hormone levels in women, its anxiety-reducing and sleep improving benefits might help make your thoughts clearer and your wits sharper around your period.
How to Use CBD Products for PMS: Forms and Dosing
The best way to use CBD products for cramps and other PMS symptoms is to take it regularly throughout the month to promote overall balance and help minimize menstrual symptoms. Dosing is a very individual issue and depends on how you respond, what symptoms you have, and how mild or severe they are. Some authorities recommend starting at a low dose, around 10 mg per day, and working up gradually until you see results.
There are a number of convenient and enjoyable ways to incorporate CBD oil for cramps into your daily routine. For best results, choose a full-spectrum CBD product that will provide all of the cannabinoids and other beneficial cannabis constituents. Liquid drops or capsules are a popular supplement form. CBD gummies and other edibles — foods infused with CBD — are also available. For the fastest effects, CBD can be inhaled using a vape pen or absorbed through vaginal suppositories. With each of these methods, CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive process.