Menstrual pain or period pain is a monthly event that every woman experiences. Pain and cramping in the lower abdomen due to vaginal bleeding are common during these monthly cycles.
For some women, these cycles can cause excessive pain, also known as dysmenorrhea. Apart from period pain, symptoms like sickness, headache, and backache are also common.
When the cramps and period pain becomes debilitating, people start looking for remedies like hot compresses, hot showers, yoga, and medication like ibuprofen.
However, recent research states that CBD might act as an antidote to reduce pain and other symptoms of a menstrual period.
CBD and the menstrual cycle
CBD (Cannabidiol) is derived from the cannabis or marijuana plant is a non-psychoactive component known for its therapeutic benefits.
It is famous for its benefits in treating various conditions like chronic pain, epilepsy, anxiety, and digestive issues. Researchers are studying it to understand it’s effectiveness in relieving menstrual pain in women.
A survey was conducted on 192 women to understand if they used cannabis for getting relief from period pain. Researchers observed that nearly 90 percent of these women found cannabis helpful in relieving pain when smoked or consumed orally.
Another research showed the effectiveness of CBD in treating chronic pelvic pain. One hundred thirty-four patients with chronic pelvic pain used cannabis and gave positive feedback. The study found the existence of cannabinoid receptors in the female reproductive system, and taking CBD might help relieve pelvic pain.
There are three ways of consuming cannabidiol. You can either inhale, ingest, or take it topically.
The painful period can also be a result of existing medical conditions like PMS, endometriosis, fibroids, etc. Let’s have a look at the various ways CBD can help in dealing with period pain.
1. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Sometimes women experience physical and emotional symptoms even before the start of their period, which is known as premenstrual syndrome(PMS). PMS happens due to a fall in estrogen and a rise in progesterone, which causes symptoms like anxiety, mood swings, bloating, fatigue, and weight gain.
CBD might be beneficial in providing relief from the PMS symptoms. Before the start of the cycle, the estrogen levels fall, which drops the serotonin levels. The low serotonin levels are responsible for the mood, sleep quality, and cravings in women.
Studies show that CBD acts as a catalyst by binding with the serotonin receptors to reduce the signs of mood swings and poor sleep quality. Most women undergo sleepless nights during PMS, which can worsen the pain.
According to a study, small doses of CBD can induce sleep and enhance sleep quality during the night. A good night’s sleep reduces the chances of bloating and mood swings. Women with PMS signs can consume CBD as tinctures or apply topically over the aching region.
2. Period pain due to endometriosis
The first signs of endometriosis are extreme period cramps, which later grow to show other signs. In endometriosis, the tissues of the uterine line start growing outside the uterine cavity like ovaries or the fallopian tubes.
The torn tissue can create severe irritation, pain, fertility issues, and might also lead to cancer. In addition to the extreme cramps, women also feel rectal pain, pain during bowel movements, and intercourse. Some might notice diarrhea, along with their periods. The pain, if not treated, can worsen during menstruation.
Cannabidiol might help alleviate this painful disorder. The tissue migration from the uterus is mainly due to the abnormal ratio of CB1 and CB2 receptors. Studies show that cannabidiol can control and stop the migration of endometriotic cells. It also influences the development of cannabinoids in the human body.
Apart from this, cannabidiol can be an effective treatment in reducing severe endometriosis pain. Although not directly proven, studies state that CBD might be effective in combating pain.
Thus, extending the logic that CBD might lessen the pain due to periods in endometriosis patients.
3. Period pain due to Fibroids
Fibroids are the growth of noncancerous tumors on the linings of a woman’s uterus. Most women don’t realize they have fibroids since it doesn’t show any symptoms initially.
But when these tumors grow big, it causes severe uterine pain and heavy bleeding, thus, magnifying the period pain. Fibroids can also lead to bloating, abdominal swelling, back pain, and chronic pelvic pressure. Pregnancy, hormonal imbalance, and family history of a fibroid are the main reasons behind these non-cancerous uterine tumors.
Studies point out that cannabidiol might help treat fibroids by enhancing the endocannabinoid system(ECS). Cannabidiol can treat any malignancies caused by hormonal imbalances by stimulating the ECS. The ECS and hormones(estrogen and progesterone), when used together, restrain the possibility of cellular accumulation and growth inside the tumors.
Thus, CBD might be able to control the period pain associated with fibroids.
4. Period pain accentuated by stress
Dysmenorrhea, also called period pains or menstrual cramps, can be a result of lifestyle stress.
Researchers carried a study to understand the impact of stress on period pain. They observed the stress patterns in 388 newly-wed women in China by asking them to document their menstrual cycles (symptoms and pain) and the stress level for a year. Based on their records, dysmenorrhea was higher in women with increased stress levels as opposed to less stressed women.
Stress during the first phase of menstruation has a strong influence on dysmenorrhea. Most women report that an increase in their stress worsens their menstrual pain. Prolonged stress and anxiety can affect the lifestyle, making it challenging to perform daily activities. It can also lead to other illnesses like cardiovascular disease, asthma, and low immunity.
CBD can reduce the stress and anxiety levels in people. Serotonin levels can positively influence the mental health of a person. A decline in serotonin levels is one of the primary reasons for chronic anxiety and stress. Studies reveal that cannabidiol might alter serotonin levels. This way, CBD can relax the mind, reduce stress, and eventually help reduce the period pains or menstrual cramps.
5. Period pain during PID
Mild to extreme menstrual pain can also be a hint of pelvic inflammatory disease(PID). PID occurs due to an inflammation in the reproductive organs like the cervix and ovaries. The symptoms of PID include lower and upper abdomen pain, fever, irregular bleeding, and tiredness.
Sometimes extreme period pain in PID patients invites other symptoms like vomiting, high fever, and fainting. Research suggests that CBD can block the prostaglandin enzyme that is liable for inflammation, muscle cramps, pain, and nerve sensitivity. During menstruation, the prostaglandin levels rise due to a decline in progesterone levels.
The heightened levels of prostaglandin enzyme result in the onset of the symptoms mentioned above. Thus, CBD can curb inflammation and reduce pelvic pain during periods.
6. Muscle Relaxing during menstrual cramps
Period cramps are the contractions of the uterine muscles producing pain in the abdominal region. Studies explain that CBD can act as a muscle relaxant. The muscle contraction occurs due to the chemical signals sent from the central nervous system to the muscle, making it contract.
The endocannabinoids control the release of chemical messengers. A lack of endocannabinoid supply leads to redundant chemicals, causing the muscles to contract continuously.
CBD can help slow the chemical messengers by increasing the endocannabinoid supply. It acts as a muscle relaxant and diminishes menstrual cramps.
7. Vascular-relaxing during periods
During menstruation, the muscles in the blood vessels tense up. When the uterine muscle contracts, that puts pressure on the blood vessels. The elevated blood pressure restricts the smooth flow of blood, which is also a reason for period pain.
For example, drinking caffeine is not advisable during menstruation. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor that constricts the uterine blood vessels, which hurts the menstrual functions. It aggravates the menstrual pain, which is the last thing anyone wants. That is why gynecologists recommended drinking warm water and non-caffeinated drinks. Other than warm water, CBD can also ease the blood vessels.
Studies reveal that cannabidiol induced vasorelaxation, which boosts the blood flow and oxygen supply. CBD can be beneficial in maintaining a healthy heart. Based on this study, consuming CBD during menstruation can also provide relief from period pain by relaxing the uterine blood vessels.
8. Inflammation during periods
Lastly, CBD can help relieve pain in general. Scientists conducted several studies to understand the role of CBD in various painful disorders. CBD interacts with the ECS to create anti-inflammatory outcomes that aid in better pain management.
People suffering from migraines or arthritis noticed a reduction in headaches or joint pain, respectively, after consuming cannabidiol. CBD can even help in treating cancer-related pain. Similarly, CBD can assist as a pain reliever for reducing menstrual pain.
The best part is, CBD can provide relief without getting you high and any side-effects.
To sum it up, the above points clearly state how CBD can be useful in managing period pain. The consumption of CBD and the dosage varies from person to person. Consult with your doctor to confirm the right dosage of CBD for your body.