As anyone who gets a period can tell you, periods aren’t fun. Physical symptoms of menstruation can include tender breasts, bloating, muscle aches and joint pain, headaches, acne, and cramping.
For 10% of people who menstruate, cramps can be particularly debilitating. They can be so bad that a person can’t get out of bed or go about their daily lives. The most common ways to treat these cramps include taking an anti-inflammatory medication, going on birth control, and using hot water bottles or heating pads to alleviate pain and inflammation.
However, there may be a better option. While additional research is needed, CBD may be helpful for reducing the pain, inflammation and other symptoms associated with menstrual cramps. Below, we outline the emerging science on the issue — and offer purchasing tips if you decide to try CBD.
What Causes Cramps?
Menstrual cramps — or dysmenorrhea — involve pain in the lower abdomen, typically occurring just before and during a menstrual period. The severity of these cramps can vary significantly, with some people in so much pain that they cannot continue their normal activities.
Symptoms of menstrual cramps may include:
- A constant dull ache
- Pain that radiates from the abdomen to the lower back and thighs
- A throbbing or cramping pain in the lower abdomen
- Pain that starts 1 to 3 days before a period, and subsides with 2 to 3 days
- Loose stools
These cramps may be caused by the normal process of menstruation, as the uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Prostaglandins trigger these contractions. This hormone-like substance is also linked to pain and inflammation, and may both promote and resolve inflammation to help the body achieve homeostasis, or balance. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more severe cramps.
Beyond a typical menstrual cycle, cramps may be caused by conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and cervical stenosis. All of these conditions are associated with pain and inflammation in the abdomen and pelvic region.
Traditionally, menstrual cramps are treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, Advil, and Aleve. A prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) may also be used. Hormonal birth control can also help to alleviate the severity of cramps for some people.
Each of these treatment options carry significant side effects. NSAIDs are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and may cause serious stomach and bowel issues, including ulcers and bleeding. Common side effects of these anti-inflammatory medications include heartburn, nausea, diarrhea and/or constipation, vomiting, stomach pain, and feeling bloated.
Hormonal birth control also carries an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, along with blood clots, gallbladder disease, liver tumors, cancer of the reproductive organs, and elevated triglycerides and pancreatitis. People who take hormonal birth control may also experience weight gain, spotting, nausea or upset stomach, mood changes, breast tenderness, and melasma (darkening of the skin).
Can CBD Really Help with Cramps?
CBD (cannabidiol) is a type of naturally-occuring chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. These compounds are known as cannabinoids. Another well-known cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive component found in marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a feeling of being high or stoned.
Research on how CBD affects the human body is still in its preliminary stages. However, scientists believe that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body, and has been linked to a number of processes, including:
- Chronic pain
- Reproductive system function
- Skin and nerve function
- Learning and memory
Scientific studies have found that CBD may promote health and wellness by interacting with one or more of the three components of the ECS: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. This may include relieving pain and inflammation when the ECS is triggered by painful conditions such as menstrual cramps. A recent study found that CBD may help to alleviate chronic pain and reduce inflammation by affecting ECS receptor activity.
According to a 2018 review of research performed over a 43 year period, CBD is effective at relieving multiple types of pain, including pain associated with cancer, nerve damage, and fibromyalgia. Researchers concluded that CBD can help with pain management without the negative side effects associated with traditional treatments.
A 2016 study of rats with arthritis found that CBD gel applied topically helped to reduce both pain and inflammation in affected joints. Other studies involving rats found that CBD is effective in relieving pain at surgical incision sites and chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
CBD may also help people who experience other symptoms with their menstrual cramps. Studies have shown that CBD can reduce nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. For anyone whose digestive system is affected by menstrual cramps, CBD may be helpful.
While research on this issue is still developing, CBD may also inhibit the production of prostaglandins. The cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme system is the major pathway for certain acids to be converted into prostaglandins. CBD may selectively inhibit COX-2 activity, which may affect prostaglandin production — and reduce menstrual cramping.
Thinking about CBD for Cramps? Here’s What to Look for in a CBD Product.
Since the production of hemp was legalized in the United States through the 2018 Farm Bill, the market for CBD has exploded. In many ways, this is a positive development, as it makes CBD more readily available to people throughout the country. Unfortunately, because CBD products are not regulated by the FDA, it can be hard to know what you are getting when you pick up a bottle of oil or edibles at your local pharmacy or big box store.
There are ways that you can make sure that you are buying a safe, effective product. First, when shopping for CBD, look for products that have been independently tested by third party laboratories. Most reputable CBD product manufacturers will post these results on their websites, so that you know exactly what you are buying.
Second, look for CBD products made from hemp grown in the United States or Europe. The growth and production of hemp is heavily regulated in the U.S., and must contain no more than 0.3% THC. If a CBD product is made from hemp that has been produced in China or another country, it is harder to ensure the quality of the product.
Third, review the ingredients list for the CBD product that you are considering. Many CBD products contain additives, such as oils and flavorings. The quality of those additives is critical to the overall quality (and shelf life) of the CBD product.
If you have questions about a product, how it was made, or what it contains, reach out to the store for help. A representative should be able to assist you and answer any questions about a particular product. If they can’t or won’t work with you, then you may want to shop at another retailer.
Recommended CBD Products For Cramps
If this is your first exposure to CBD, you may not know where to start or which products would be best suited to help with cramps. We’ve put together recommendations below based on both our own experiences and customer testimonials.
Hemplucid’s CBD water soluble tincture is known for their rapid onset and potency. In a water soluble the Cannabinoids(CBD) have been broken down into very tiny particles which enable them to be more easily and quickly absorbed. Because of this easy absorption and fast acting ability we refer to watersoluble as a booster making them great for quick pain relief and contain 1,000mg of full spectrum CBD per bottle. The drops can also be mixed into your favorite beverages to provide more flavor, because the tincture is water soluble.
It’s no secret that the application of heat is a good way to get cramping muscles to relax. Hot baths can help to increase blood flow, which in turn eases muscle cramping. When you combine a hot bath with the soothing effects of CBD, you get a true recipe for relief and relaxation. The bath bombs from cbdMD contain 100mg of premium broad spectrum CBD with no artificial dyes or preservatives.
It may seem counterintuitive to use a topical oil for pain that is internal, but CBD massage oil will work its way into your system through the receptors in your skin. Lazarus CBD massage oils provide a great way to earn relief from cramps while also unwinding and relaxing. Each bottle contains 200mg of full spectrum hemp extract along with jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, and coconut oil. You can slowly massage the oil into your skin to allow the oil to penetrate the skin and underlying tissue.
Buy High Quality CBD from Green Wellness Life
If you are interested in using CBD to manage the symptoms of menstrual cramps, Green Wellness Life is a great place to start. While we aren’t doctors and can’t diagnose or treat any medical condition, we can provide you with scientific research to help you make a decision. We can also offer insight into the best CBD products on the market for your needs.
Every product that we sell has been independently tested, and is made from industrial hemp grown in the U.S. You can use our product finder to choose a product, or reach out to us with any questions or to get help picking an item. We are available by phone Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 888-772-7875, or via email. Our team has significant knowledge about CBD, and is excited to help customers learn more about the best products for them.