If CBD is a cure-all for anxiety and stress, it begs the question: can it help with women’s health, like cramps, PMS symptoms and mastalgia? PMS is a miserable, disruptive experience for many women. Luckily, CBD oil may be able to help alleviate the negative symptoms of pain and mood associated with this condition. Research has shown CBD oil can alleviate pain & cramping, support mood, & alleviate other common side effects of PMS. (Best CBD oils for PMS)
CBD for PMS? A Gynecologist Tells Us What’s Up
I t is 2019, and if you are not regularly grabbing a cannabidiol (CBD)-infused water before work, chewing a CBD gummy before bed or even dropping some CBD tinctures into your afternoon coffee, you might be missing out. Even dogs are using CBD. But let’s get one thing out of the way first: CBD will not make you high. Although it is an extract of the cannabis plant, CBD does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the mind-altering ingredient found in marijuana.
Proven as a natural remedy for anxiety, stress and insomnia, the CBD industry is booming. In fact, Brightfield, a cannabis research firm, says the CBD market is expected to reach $22 billion (yes, billion) by 2022. That is a lot of people feeling good about themselves. So good, that the 2018 Farm Bill was passed at the end of last year, making hemp — a form of cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC, from which you can extract CBD — an agriculture crop instead of an illegal substance. (Two things to note: Recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states and the FDA still has regulations on CBD in food.)
But if the magic oil/pill/gummy/tincture seems to be a cure-all for these problems, it begs the question: Can it help with women’s health, like cramps, PMS symptoms and mastalgia? Could a suppository be the answer to period pain? Oil for breast tenderness? Lube for pain during sex?
Could a suppository be the answer to period pain?
Unfortunately, the answer is murky — at best.
“The benefits of CBD for women’s health are still controversial. There is a serious lack of trials [and] evidence-based data proving or disproving the benefits of CBD for women’s health disorders,” says Adeeti Gupta, M.D., founder of Walk In GYN Care.
But what about the products — like The Good Patch for PMS, Whoopi & Maya’s Medical Cannabis Bath Soak for menstrual relief or Foria Vaginal Suppositories for period pain — circling the wellness world? Gupta says there are no trials proving CBD is helpful for PMS symptoms. And, while it may seem like the answer for natural pain relief, Gupta warns against it. “One can use it and it is being used off label now at various places but there is no clear evidence in medical studies thus far that it helps or if it has just a placebo effect . Theoretically, CBD oil should help as a co-analgesic, meaning it can be used in addition to regular pain medication to help. However, studies have shown that CBD and THC used in low doses improve the pain scale only by 0.5 ( on a scale of 1-10). So, although there are theoretical benefits, we do not have clear data to support the benefits yet.”
And speaking of THC — the ingredient CBD is supposed to be formulated without — Gupta says, “we need to be wary of are any contaminants in the formulation that would contain THC.” The safest form is hemp oil formulations, but “if the CBD is not pure and has THC (marijuana) mixed in it … one can also experience withdrawal symptoms with prolonged use,” she adds.
While she does not recommend these products as a treatment option at this time, Gupta does have hope. “Even though at this point, we do not have adequate data and literature giving us support and clear guidelines as medical professionals to prescribe CBD for various conditions, we are hopeful that with time we will have more studies allowing us to utilize these if found to be an effective panacea for a lot of chronic, debilitating women’s health pain syndromes ,” she says.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and CBD Oil: Women’s New Best Friend
From mood swings to bloating, the negative symptoms associated with PMS are varied and disruptive. Can CBD oil help to relieve them?
Like many conditions specific to female reproductive health, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is both under-researched and poorly understood. While some women are able to find relief through diet, exercise, and traditional NSAID painkillers (aspirin, ibuprofen), many more suffer in silence.
As researchers continue to unearth the potential benefits of CBD oil, its use as a more natural, alternative treatment option for a number of conditions and ailments is becoming more recognised. From its pain-relieving properties to mood-improving effects, cannabidiol (CBD) looks to be an ideal candidate in the treatment of PMS symptoms.
As with any new treatment plan, it’s important you consult your doctor before using CBD oil to manage your PMS. You might also consider speaking with a cannabis doctor who specializes in using cannabidiol as a medical treatment.
Here’s everything you need to know about using CBD oil for PMS and whether it can serve as a viable option for you.
Benefits of Using CBD Oil for PMS
Premenstrual syndrome is brought on by a shift in hormone and neurochemical levels about 5-11 days prior to a woman getting her period. The characteristics and duration of PMS differ from woman to woman, but CBD oil may still provide some form of relief without the side effects of well-known pharmaceuticals and without the ‘high’ of marijuana .
CBD Oil vs. Common Pharmaceuticals
The volume and variety of PMS symptoms can make treating this condition a challenge. While making healthy lifestyle changes can help, medications are sometimes needed; the most commonly recommended pharmaceutical treatments can provide relief, but often have side effects that can create new issues altogether. This is where cannabidiol oil may be able to help.
|Common PMS Medication for…||Notable Side Effects||Compared to CBD Oil|
|Mood changes: Antidepressants/SSRIs (Prozac; Paxil; Zoloft; Lexapro)||Nausea; drowsiness; nervousness; headaches; insomnia||CBD oil does not produce any of these side effects and may even help reduce anxiety and depression|
|Pain & Inflammation: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (aspirin; ibuprofen; naproxen; celecoxib)||Stomach pain and ulcers; dizziness; liver problems; kidney problems; high blood pressure||CBD oil has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation without any of these side effects|
|Bloating: Diuretics (Aldactone)||Skin rash; nausea; headaches; stomach pain||Because of its anti-inflammatory effects on the digestive tract cannabidiol may help reduce bloating without these side effects|
|A combination of symptoms: Hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills; IUDs; contraceptive patches; hormonal injections)||Headaches and migraines; anxiety; blood clots; weight gain; ovarian cysts; fatigue; mood changes||CBD oil has been shown to produce a variety of physical and emotional benefits without these side effects|
CBD Oil vs. Marijuana
The Cannabis sativa plant is believed to contain as many as 100 compounds known as phytocannabinoids, each with their own unique properties. While tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has proven health benefits , it is also the cannabinoid responsible for the ‘high’ typically associated with marijuana use.
For those looking to reap the health benefits of the cannabis plant without experiencing the intoxicating and mind-altering effects of THC, there is an equally beneficial cannabis extract called cannabidiol , or CBD. In other words, CBD oil will not get you high, and can easily be worked into your daily routine if you choose to use it to manage PMS.
Effectiveness of Using CBD Oil for PMS
The effectiveness of using CBD oil to treat PMS specifically is still being researched. However, several studies have produced promising results as far as using cannabidiol to treat many of the symptoms associated with PMS goes. From cramping to anxiety, soreness to irritability, and weight gain to depression, CBD oil may provide some long overdue and much-needed relief.
CBD Oil for Multiple PMS Symptoms
CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory effect on the body’s CB2 receptors could help reduce several mood-, weight-, and pain-related symptoms of PMS.
CBD impacts the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors located in your brain and central nervous system; the CB2 receptors regulate pain and inflammation by regulating immune responses in the body. Through its effect on the CB2 receptors, CBD oil has been shown to alter this response, stopping inflammation before it begins .
While many women rely on anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen for PMS relief, it’s not until recently that researchers have been able to draw a causal connection between inflammation and premenstrual symptoms. In a 2016 study published in the Journal for Women , researchers measured levels of inflammation in middle-aged women who were close to getting their period. As internal inflammation increased, so did the negative effects of PMS, which included changes in mood, breast and back pain, and weight gain. (The only PMS symptoms that didn’t appear to be linked to increased levels of inflammation were premenstrual headaches.)
When cannabidiol indirectly activates CB2 receptors, a series of anti-inflammatory responses are triggered in the body . So, by using CBD oil to regulate inflammation by way of CB2 activation, you could see relief from a number of negative PMS symptoms.
CBD Oil for PMS Pain Relief
Cannabis has been used for centuries to relieve menstrual and PMS pain; even Queen Victoria was alleged to have been prescribed cannabis by her physician to treat her menstrual cramps!
While there are many cannabinoids present in cannabis, recent research on using CBD to manage chronic pain has made it reasonable to assume that CBD plays a major role in providing relief from ongoing physical symptoms, like the headaches and soreness, that many women with PMS experience.
CBD oil impacts the body’s glycine receptors, which play a large role in pain perception. A 2012 study examining CBD’s effect on these receptors concluded, “These cannabinoids may represent a novel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic pain.” The study found CBD’s interaction with glycine receptors was separate from its activation of CB2 receptors, meaning CBD oil could provide relief from PMS pain and inflammation by simultaneously affecting two different pain and inflammation mechanisms in your body.
It is worth noting that THC can also help when it comes to PMS pain related to cramping. Period cramps are the result of contracting muscles and studies into the use of THC and CBD for muscle spasticity found the combination to be effective as both a pain reliever and a muscle relaxant. If you live in a state where the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis has been legally approved, you might consider using a full-spectrum CBD oil that contains THC to manage the pain and frequency of PMS cramps. To find out the legal status of cannabis products in your state, see our state-by-state guide .
Of course, if you’d prefer to not use THC in managing your pain, CBD could still provide relief from the pain you experience with premenstrual syndrome.
CBD Oil for Mood
Sudden mood changes and general low mood are common symptoms of PMS; if you’ve experienced bouts of anxiety, depression, or irritability before menstruation, you’re not alone. Luckily, CBD oil has been found to play a role in regulating mood, especially in people suffering from anxiety and depression .
CBD is an anandamide reuptake inhibitor , meaning that it increases the amount of anandamide that is available in the brain. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter known as “the bliss molecule” because it’s responsible for feelings of positivity and regulates motivation, joy, and general feelings of happiness. So, CBD oil’s effect on anandamide levels in your brain could help remedy feelings of melancholy and irritability you may experience during PMS.
Cannabidiol is also an adenosine reuptake inhibitor . Adenosine is a chemical in your body which may play a role in mood regulation through its effect on certain neurotransmitter pathways. According to a 2009 review of multiple studies conducted on adenosine’s role in a wide array of cognitive processes, including those related to anxiety and depression, activation of A2A adenosine receptors leads to increased dopamine production, which is crucial for combatting depression. Because CBD oil makes adenosine more available, A2A receptors are better activated, leading to higher dopamine production and ultimately an elevated mood, reduced anxiety, and increased clarity.
Similar to the way in which CBD oil can help reduce physical pain brought on by PMS, the research indicates that CBD affects two different neurological processes, both of which could yield a better and more stable mood prior to menstruation.
How to Take CBD Oil for PMS
Untreated pain, inflammation, and mood disturbances would certainly make day-to-day functioning difficult for any person. If you have found that you’re treading water when dealing with the symptoms of PMS, it may be time to consider CBD oil.
Before you begin, it is important that you talk to your doctor . While CBD oil is considered relatively safe and has little to no known side effects, it can interact with some prescription medications .
Once you have the go-ahead from your doctor, you’ll need to decide how you’d like to take CBD oil for your PMS. There are lots of different ways to take CBD oil and the delivery format you choose will depend on your preferences and your specific needs.
For example, for sudden and severe PMS symptoms, a CBD oil vape product may be the best solution. Vaping is one of the fastest ways to get CBD oil into the body, however, it also yields effects for a relatively short amount of time (typically 1-2 hours).
CBD oil capsules and edibles are probably the easiest methods of administration. CBD capsules and edibles may take a little longer to work, as the CBD oil has to pass through the digestive system before entering the bloodstream, but they provide a consistent and long-lasting dose.
CBD oil drops are also a nice option, and work fairly quickly as the CBD oil is absorbed through the thin lining of the mouth. As far as time to take effect and longevity of effects go, CBD oil drops fall somewhere in between vapes and edibles. Using CBD oil drops also makes it easy to track, control, and adjust your dosage as needed.
If you’re experiencing acute physical pain or soreness, a CBD topical applied directly to the area of discomfort may do the trick. There are also CBD companies like Endoca that sell vaginal suppositories which may be useful in reducing the pain of menstrual cramps.
Adding CBD oil to your daily routine is a great way to take advantage of CBD’s cumulative effects, which range from stabilizing hormones to reducing inflammation, even when not experiencing PMS symptoms.
CBD Oil Dosage for PMS
Just as no two women experience PMS in the same way, no two people will respond to CBD oil in the same way. This means that there is no universal dose for CBD oil. Always start with the dosage recommended on the CBD product you are using.
For further guidance, we at CBD Oil Review have analyzed hundreds of products and come up with a standard serving suggestion:
The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25mg of CBD, taken twice daily.
If this amount doesn’t give you the results you’re looking for, we recommend increasing the serving size by 25mg every 3-4 weeks until you find relief.
For more information about CBD oil dosage in general, you can check out our Dosage Guide .
If you found this article interesting, you may also enjoy:
- The Women’s Guide to CBD Oil
- Does CBD Oil Affect Your Hormones?
- Can You Use CBD Oil While Breastfeeding?
- CBD Oil and Fertility: What You Need To Know
- Ellen B. Gold et al. (2016) The Association of Inflammation with Premenstrual Symptoms – Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jwh.2015.5529?journalCode=jwh
- Prakash Nagarkatti et al. (2010) Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/
- Wei Xiong et al. (2012) Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22585736/
- Uwe K. Zettl et al. Evidence for the efficacy and effectiveness of THC-CBD oromucosal spray in symptom management of patients with spasticity due to multiple sclerosis – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4710104/
- Dale G Deutsch A Personal Retrospective: Elevating Anandamide (AEA) by Targeting Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) and the Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs) – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27790143/
- Anandamide – PubChem® https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Anandamide
- Joseph Maroon et al. (2018) Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5938896/
- Hai-Ying Shen et al. Adenosine A2A Receptors in Psychopharmacology: Modulators of Behavior, Mood and Cognition – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769003/
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CBD for PMS: How It Helps with Cramps & Other Symptoms
Research has shown CBD oil can alleviate pain & cramping, support mood, & alleviate other common side effects of PMS.
Learn how it works, how much to take, and what side-effects to watch out for.
If you’re one of the 95% of women who experience premenstrual syndrome, it may come as a pleasant surprise that cannabidiol (CBD) may alleviate headaches, cramps, irritability, anxiety, insomnia and other annoying symptoms .
It’s not a magic cure-all, of course, but research shows that CBD may be effective as an anti-pain, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety supplement.
One of the problems with PMS is that it’s extremely complex. Every woman (and every person) has slightly different hormone levels and a unique genetic makeup.
This article will cover everything you need to know about using CBD for premenstrual syndrome. We’ll cover how PMS works and what the current research suggests for supporting this condition.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
Updated on October 19, 2021
Table of Contents
- Can CBD Oil Help With PMS?
- How Hormone Changes May Lead to PMS
- The 3 Stages of the Menstrual Cycle
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Can CBD Oil Help With PMS?
PMS has a wide range of symptoms and involves the flux of two reproductive hormones — estrogen and progesterone.
CBD has little effect on these hormones directly but offers a variety of benefits that help alleviate symptoms involving pain, cramping, and mood.
The key benefits of CBD oil for PMS include:
- Relieves stress & anxiety symptoms
- Can help balance mood
- Alleviates pain
- Reduces nflammation
- Relaxes muscle tension & cramping
1. Relieves Stress & Anxiety Symptoms
CBD is considered a non-allosteric modulator — which is a fancy term that suggests it works by indirectly inhibiting certain activities in the brain. It uses the endocannabinoid system as the intermediary to stop the brain cells from firing, as opposed to allowing them to send signals.
While research on the endocannabinoid system is still being explored, this inhibitory behavior may explain why cannabidiol is known for being an anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsive, and anti-epileptic therapy .
2. May Help Balance Mood
While PMS is too complex of a topic for any single therapy to work as a cure-all, cannabidiol may be a good alternative to treat some of the symptoms related to serotonin — such as fluctuations in mood.
Since serotonin levels are thought to be affected by the changes in hormone levels during the luteal phase , cannabidiol’s interaction with serotonergic receptors may help relieve some of the symptoms arising from low serotonin levels .
Specifically, depression and anxiety are two negative emotional side effects that may benefit from taking cannabidiol through this interaction with serotonin.
3. Alleviates Pain
Cannabidiol has also been shown to relieve pain by blocking the signaling pathway for pain .
While the current research mainly focuses on cancer pain management and bone or joint problems (osteoarthritis), it isn’t too far of a stretch to think that cannabidiol may help relieve the muscle aches that happen as a result of PMS as well .
The endocannabinoid system regulates both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Since pain is transmitted via these nerves, ingesting cannabidiol has been shown in rats to help with reducing pain and inflammation .
Unfortunately, a review of clinical experiments in people shows conflicting results .
4. Reduces Inflammatory Load
Inflammation associated with premenstrual syndrome might also respond to cannabidiol.
However, inflammation is a complex immunological process involving many chemical cascades, feedback loops, and various cells from both the innate and the adaptive immune systems.
More research, specifically double-blind studies involving larger sample groups, need to be conducted to see if the cause of inflammation during PMS corresponds with the anti-inflammatory actions of cannabidiol [9, 10].
5. Alleviates Muscle Tension & Cramping
Most of the research on CBD and muscle has to do with treating spasticity in those with multiple sclerosis. Going back to the fact that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system and muscles are controlled by nerves, it is a logical step to think that CBD could have an effect on reducing muscle spasms .
Since the uterine cramping and spasms before and during menstruation, CBD, could in theory, affect and reduce cramping.
What is PMS? What Causes It?
Premenstrual syndrome happens before the menstrual phase (hence the name). If you’re not familiar with the phases of the menstrual cycle, don’t worry, we’ll cover it in greater detail below.
PMS symptoms usually begin to develop after ovulation, within a week or so before menstruation.
Scientists aren’t able to say exactly why the change in hormones causes both the psychological and physical symptoms, but the theory is that it has something to do with the link between estrogen and serotonin production in the brain .
The entire menstrual cycle is a rollercoaster of hormones, each one taking their turn to rise up before crashing back down again. All of this is a well-choreographed dance designed to prepare the body for falling pregnant.
How Hormone Changes May Lead to PMS
- Progesterone and estrogen rise and then drop quickly after ovulation
- During this rise is when you start to feel physical symptoms such as breast tenderness. You can think of this as the body getting ready for pregnancy
- Because estrogen is tied to serotonin, the drop in estrogen causes a drop in serotonin as well
- Drops in serotonin (the neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy) can then cause the psychological symptoms
The 3 Stages of the Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle can be broken down into 3 phases: follicular, luteal, and menses.
1. Follicular Phase
Eggs develop in little nests in the ovaries called follicles. During the follicular phase, the follicle that will eventually release a mature egg produces the hormone estrogen. This follicle is stimulated by a pituitary hormone called the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) .
FSH also stimulates the production of yet another pituitary gland hormone called Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which causes the egg to go through meiosis (cell division).
As estrogen levels rise with the growing follicle, the uterus lining thickens with tissue and blood vessels to get ready for implantation of a fertilized egg and pregnancy. Once the egg is mature, there is a spike in LH and the egg is released from the follicle — this marks the point of ovulation. The body is now ready to conceive a baby.
Estrogen, LH, and FSH levels begin to drop while progesterone starts to rise as it’s released from the same follicle that released the egg previously.
2. Luteal Phase
After ovulation is achieved during the follicular phase, we enter the luteal phase .
Here, estrogen rises again with progesterone and the uterus lining continues to grow. From the ovary, the egg will travel to the uterus via the fallopian tubes.
If fertilization were to occur, it would happen during this period of 3-4 days.
If no fertilization occurs, there’s no need to continue to support the highly vascularized and dense tissue of the uterus (using up a lot of the body’s resources). The corpus luteum dies and both estrogen and progesterone levels drop once again.
3. Menses or Menstruation
Menstruation is the process through which the cells lining the uterus go through programmed cell death (apoptosis) and shed .
Blood and tissue are expelled from the vagina and women may suffer from cramping which is the contraction of the uterine muscles to help shed the lining.
Signs & Symptoms of PMS
Because there are four different hormones at play here, PMS can present itself in various ways. Not all women get all the symptoms and not every symptom occurs every month. Jet lag, sleep, alcohol and smoking, and stress can all affect PMS.
Psychological Symptoms of PMS
The emotional changes that happen post-ovulation, during the luteal phase, may include the following:
Physical Symptoms of PMS
Along with the changes in mood, physical symptoms will also occur.
These physical symptoms include:
Current Treatment Options for PMS
There are many ways to treat mild to severe PMS, including drugs, hormone therapy, acupuncture, hot packs, supplements, and much more.
The scientific evidence behind things like acupuncture is limited and most of the advice appears to be anecdotal . Even exercise, a commonly suggested way to relieve PMS symptoms, showed inconsistent results when tested. Some groups responded while others showed no significant reduction in discomfort .
Hormonal options involve taking estradiol and/or progesterone pills in order to better regulate the fluctuations of these hormones in the luteal phase. Some studies have shown that this method is effective, while others showed no difference in alleviating the symptoms of PMS [19, 20].
What Else Can I Do To Relieve PMS Symptoms?
Aside from taking CBD, making sure to keep your serotonin levels at a normal level can help relieve PMS symptoms. Things like exercise, sleeping well, keeping stress levels low, and eating dark chocolate are all ways to make sure your serotonin level doesn’t dip too low.
Key Takeaways: Can CBD Help With PMS?
While the research on the use of cannabidiol on PMS symptoms still requires further exploration, the hope is that this article gave you a bit more insight into the causes of PMS and how CBD can be used to reduce PMS symptoms.
We know that CBD doesn’t directly treat PMS in its entirety. However, certain symptoms such as cramps, anxiety, and pain can somewhat be lessened by taking CBD.
Unlike other conditions, PMS symptoms and the severity of them vary month to month depending on the level of stress and other uncontrollable life issues that may arise unexpectedly. So, while it’s impossible to fully eliminate PMS due to its close ties with fluctuating reproductive hormones, it is possible to target particular symptoms on a case by case basis.