Menstrual cramps (or menstrual pain) are cramping pains in the lower abdomen and the pelvic area that women suffer during their menstrual periods. All women experience menstrual pain to some degree and for some of them, it can even be impending. CBD is an active element of cannabis that has proven to be effective for many conditions, such as epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using CBD oil for menstrual cramps.
What Is Cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most abundant active elements of cannabis. But do not let this fact scare you away! Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the most abundant active compound in the cannabis plant, cannabidiol does not have psychoactive effects. Furthermore, by law, the maximum legal content of THC in CBD oil is 0.2%. Hence, CBD will not make you high.
CBD usually comes from hemp, an industrial variety of Cannabis sativa that has very low concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of CBD. Hemp is also used to make fabric, paper, biofuel, and construction materials.
Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System
The active compounds of cannabis are called cannabinoids. There are three species of cannabis: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Each of these strains has a different set of cannabinoids: C. sativa contains higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC. On the other hand, C. indica has larger amounts of THC.
Cannabinoids act on the endocannabinoid system, which is common to all animals, birds, and fishes. The endocannabinoid system exists through your body and plays a key role in managing memory, pain, appetite, energy, stress, sleep, motor coordination, and even fertility.
The endocannabinoid system comprises:
- Endocannabinoids: Cannabinoids that your own body makes.
- Cannabinoid receptors: The receptors cannabinoids and endocannabinoids bind to. That is, receptors that are “activated” by cannabinoids.
The endocannabinoid system was “discovered” relatively recently, back in the 1990s. But still, it is a key system to keep balance in your body.
Properties of Cannabidiol
Cannabidiol binds to cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, causing different types of responses in your body. It is exactly what happens with other cannabinoids and the endocannabinoids produced by your own body.
When binding to these receptors, CBD can activate a great range of responses in your body, such as analgesic, relaxing, or anti-convulsive effects. It also seems to have neuroprotective effects, anti-tumor properties, and may also be beneficial for your skin.
For which conditions and issues can CBD be helpful?
- Chronic and acute pain
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Side effects of chemotherapy
- Multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- IBS and Crohn’s disease
- Hepatitis C
- Psoriasis and eczema
Moreover, cannabidiol is also becoming a popular remedy for cats and dogs (remember: animals also have an endocannabinoid system).
What Are the Causes of Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are mainly due to two factors: the uterus contracting to expel its lining during the menstrual period and the action of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that are responsible for the uterus contractions and the inflammation and pain associated to them. But there are other causes for menstrual cramps:
- Fibroids: Growths on the uterus wall that sometimes can cause pain.
- Endometriosis: The tissue lining the uterus grows outside the uterus, affecting the ovaries or the fallopian tubes.
- Adenomyosis: This condition is a bit similar to endometriosis, with the difference that the tissue spreads in the uterine walls.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease: An infection of the reproductive organs, usually due to sexually transmitted bacteria.
- Cervical stenosis: The opening in the cervix is narrower than normal, which may result in an increase of pressure on the uterus that causes pain.
Usually, menstrual cramps (or period cramps) start as a pain on the lower abdomen a few days before the menstrual bleeding begins. It reaches its peak within the first 24 hours after your period begins and can last up to three days after that. Often, menstrual cramps symptoms also include dizziness, nausea, and pain in the lower back.
But many women also experience other unpleasant symptoms before their period start. Irritability, mood changes, insomnia, fatigue, acne, tender breasts, and bloating are part of the premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS is not a dangerous condition, but for many women, it makes their days before their menstruation harder.
What Are the Benefits of CBD Oil for Menstrual Cramps?
Anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of cannabidiol could relieve the pain associated with your period. If you suffer from menstrual cramps, using CBD oil may help you cope with the symptoms. Also, CBD oil does not have the side effects of conventional medications used for coping with period pain, like ibuprofen. Furthermore, some women claim that CBD oil helps them balance their hormones and regulates their menstrual cycles.
But CBD oil can also be very helpful if you are coping with PMS. The relaxing and anxiolytic properties of cannabidiol will help you relieve the irritability and mood changes that occur before menstruation. Also, if you are fighting with insomnia before your period starts, cannabidiol could help you sleep better.
How to Use CBD Oil for Menstrual Cramps
The most common way of taking CBD oil is by placing a few drops under your tongue and swallow it after 30-60 seconds. But what is the dosage of CBD oil for menstrual cramps? The right dosage of cannabidiol will usually depend on your weight. You can check a CBD dosage calculator (there are many available online) to establish the right dosage for your particular case.