Historical records show that Queen Victoria used cannabis for menstrual cramps. CBD is one of the major components of the cannabis plant — can CBD oil help with period and its symptoms? Cannabidiol (CBD) may be an alternative treatment for dysmenorrhea and other premenstrual syndromes (PMS), such as headaches and mood swings. CBD can reduce unpleasant period-related symptoms such as cramping, nausea and anxiety. Try these 8 ways of using CBD for period pain relief.
CBD Oil for Menstrual Cramps: Does Cannabis Help with PMS?
Women of child-bearing age often have a hard time going through their so-called periods. Menstrual cramps are one of the most annoying symptoms during that time. While some women experience mild to moderate pain, others find it debilitating. In extreme cases, menstrual cramps may prevent you from doing simple things, especially during the first days of the period.
The good news is that there are several ways to relieve menstrual cramps. Many women find help in natural remedies, such as CBD oil.
Humans have used cannabis for thousands of years to relieve a wide range of ailments. The history is filled with examples of doctors prescribing the herb to both regular folks and royal entities.
For example, Queen Victoria was prescribed cannabis by her physician to relieve menstrual cramps (1). While we don’t know if the said cannabis was a high-THC or high-CBD strain, both compounds are considered “major cannabinoids.” In other words, they exist in cannabis in significant ratios and are responsible for a wide range of health benefits.
Modern science has since revealed the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. In this article, we’ll look specifically into the effects of CBD on menstrual cramps.
Let’s find out if women can use CBD oil to relieve period pain and other symptoms.
CBD Oil and Menstrual Cycle
Women typically experience periods every 28-30 days. The menstrual cycle is a natural mechanism that prepares a woman’s body to carry a child. Every month, a new, thick layer of tissue grows in the uterus to get women ready for a potential pregnancy.
The moment when the egg is released from one of the ovaries is known as ovulation. It occurs halfway through the cycle. When the egg meets the sperm, the pregnancy process begins. When no sperm is around, it will break down.
When the egg dissolves, it signals the uterus using specific molecules. They send messages to the uterus, “Hey, it’s a non-pregnancy month,” so the organ, therefore, sheds that extra tissue, resulting in bleeding.
Menstrual Cramps and Pain
The shedding in the inner lining of the uterus tissue — known as the endometrium — causes menstrual cramps. As this lining falls off each month and a woman goes through her period, endometrial cells break apart as a result of coming loose. Their remnants are released into nearby body parts. In some cases, those tissues grow outside uterus involving the ovary, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining. This is known as endometriosis that causes pain and formation of scar tissues.
Some of these molecules are enzymes that trigger inflammation and pain. They are known as prostaglandins and prostacyclins. One particular prostaglandin — PGF2 — causes contraction of the uterus and surrounding muscles (2). This, in turn, leads to cramping and the accompanying pain.
CBD’s efficacy at reducing inflammation and mitigating pain signals is the major reason why many women are turning to CBD oil for menstrual cramps.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to an odd group of symptoms that become noticeable as a woman gets close to her ovulation period. They usually start to manifest six days before a woman’s period begins, peaking about two days before “that time.” (3)
PMS includes the following symptoms:
- Mood swings
- Muscle tension
- Outbursts of anger
The symptoms can range from mild to severe. Common medications for menstrual cramps include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).
Common Therapies for Menstrual Cramps
The most often picked therapy for menstrual cramps is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These painkillers inhibit the release of enzymes that trigger inflammation in the body. Consequently, the release of pain-inducing chemicals during menstruation is blocked too.
Some women use non-conventional methods of relieving pain, including heating pads and oral contraceptives. CBD oil and CBD-infused products, such as topicals, edibles, and suppositories, have recently sparked the attention of medical researchers as a safe, natural therapy for menstrual cramps.
Does CBD Help with Menstrual Cramps?
There’s a good reason why CBD may help with menstrual cramps.
NSAIDs curb pain and inflammation by blocking the enzyme COX-2. However, they also block the COX-1 enzyme, which isn’t related to inflammation and pain. COX-1 is responsible for maintaining a healthy lining in the stomach and intestines. That’s why regular use of NSAIDs is associated with a higher risk of stomach ulcers.
According to studies, CBD is the inhibitor of the COX-2, but it has no affinity to the COX-1 enzyme (4). By focusing solely on the COX-2, CBD can reduce inflammation without causing stomach irritation and other side effects linked to typical over-the-counter pain relievers.
Another way to administer CBD for menstrual cramps is through the vaginal and rectal walls. These parts of the body absorb everything very rapidly by avoiding the digestive tract and liver. CBD suppositories provide almost immediate action of the active ingredient. Using a CBD suppository to relieve menstrual cramps could result in fast relief from period pain and inflammation.
The above phenomenon has given rise to a novel topic of discussion: CBD tampons. There are anecdotal reports from women who use them for their period pain, claiming they’re more effective than the previously undertaken means.
How to Use CBD for Menstrual Cramps?
As mentioned in the previous section, CBD comes in a variety of forms; you can choose from products like oils, capsules, edibles, topicals, suppositories, vapes, and more.
Below we elaborate on the most common CBD products for menstrual cramps and how to use them.
CBD oils and tinctures can be taken sublingually or mixed with beverages like coffee or tea and can be infused into foods.
The first method requires the user to place the desired dose under the tongue and hold it there for up to 60 seconds so the oil can absorb through the tiny blood vessels in the mouth. It also ensures a fast onset of effects; they usually take hold within 15–30 minutes after administration.
Adding CBD oil to food and beverages makes it more palatable but sacrifices the onset; since the oil needs to be processed in the digestive system, the results may show up after 40–90 minutes.
The same pattern applies to CBD capsules and gummies. Oral products are less bioavailable because they lose some potency in the liver, but on the other hand, the effects last longer than with traditional oil — up to 8-10 hours.
You may also try CBD through vaping. Using a vape pen, CBD is delivered into the lungs and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. This method delivers the most CBD into your body, provides the fastest onset of effects (5-10 minutes after inhalation), but offers the shortest duration time. CBD vape pens last for about 3-4 hours.
The above forms of CBD may help you alleviate not only the period pain but also your PMS symptoms, such as irritability or poor stress management.
Topical products, such as creams or gels, are formulated to help with localized discomfort. When you’re experiencing muscle cramps, you can rub a topical into your skin on the affected area. CBD will interact with the skin’s endocannabinoid system, producing its anti-inflammatory and relaxing effects from there.
CBD Suppositories for Cramps
Some suppositories are infused with CBD. This form of cannabidiol can be inserted in a similar way to how a tampon is used — vaginally and rectally.
Some CBD suppositories are made with coconut oil, coconut butter, or hemp oil. Their consistency is soft, and they melt instantly in the body. The dosages per brand may vary, although most CBD suppositories come in 100 mg broad- or full-spectrum CBD.
Although suppositories work like tampons, applying CBD oil on tampons might be risky, according to some sources. Doing so may lead to bacterial vaginosis, a vaginal infection that results from acidity imbalance.
Back to suppositories, these products may cause vaginal irritation since the female reproductive area is delicate and sensitive.
Note that the results of your CBD product may differ from one person to another. CBD can also interact with medications, such as antibiotics and anti-anxiety drugs, so it’s a good idea to consult a doctor before trying CBD.
How much CBD to Take for Menstrual Cramps?
The optimal CBD dose may vary between individuals. There are still no official dosage recommendations when it comes to using CBD for menstrual cramps.
If you want to determine the right dosage for your individual situation, start low, and gradually increase your dose until the right amount and effectiveness are achieved. You can keep a journal or log, where you’ll monitor the signs of relief from your pain and PMS symptoms. Keeping track of your results will help you establish the right dose without going through too much trial and error.
Again, we encourage you to talk to a doctor experienced in cannabis use about your plans to incorporate CBD oil into your daily routine.
CBD or THC: Which One is Better for Menstrual Cramps?
Cannabis plants produce two major molecules: CBD and THC. CBD is the main non-intoxicating compound, whereas THC is the ingredient that causes the signature marijuana high.
Although CBD and THC share a few health benefits, they work differently and they bind to different receptors in the body. The specific receptors interact with our cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2).
THC has a strong affinity to CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the brain and central nervous system (5).
CBD, in turn, mostly binds to CB2 receptors, which occur in the immune system. These two receptors control inflammation and stress, and when CBD interacts with them, it doesn’t modify the activity of the neurons as THC does with the CB1 receptor.
It’s difficult to tell which cannabinoid will work better for menstrual cramps because both compounds are potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory agents. However, if you’re looking for a product that won’t get you high and is legal throughout the United States, CBD oil from hemp is a more accessible option.
THC comes from marijuana, so its legality depends on the cannabis laws in individual states. Higher doses of THC can also backfire at the user and elevate anxiety instead of reducing it, which is another point in favor of CBD for menstrual cramps.
Final Thoughts on CBD and Menstrual Cramps
While studies on CBD and its use for menstrual cramps are limited, CBD has been shown to help with symptoms like inflammation and pain multiple times in scientific literature. Although there’s no guarantee that CBD oil will work for you, there’s a lot of women who have ditched pharmaceutical painkillers in favor of CBD oil — and their answer is a loud ‘yes.’
CBD has a balancing effect on your body’s internal homeostasis. It can also act on the same receptors as NSAIDs, but without interfering with the receptor responsible for maintaining a healthy lining of the gut and intestines. Therefore, it doesn’t have the side effects associated with the said medications.
Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD oil and other hemp-derived products are legal in all 50 states as long as they contain 0.3% THC or less. However, the FDA has yet to regulate products that come from industrial hemp plants, so it’s important to do your research before buying CBD oil for menstrual cramps. Always look for reputable brands that use organic hemp and test their products for potency and purity in a third-party laboratory.
- Frazzetto, Giovanni. “Does marijuana have a future in pharmacopoeia?.” EMBO reports vol. 4,7 (2003): 651-3. doi:10.1038/sj.embor.embor893
- Jobling, Phillip et al. “Female reproductive tract pain: targets, challenges, and outcomes.” Frontiers in pharmacology vol. 5 17. 13 Feb. 2014, doi:10.3389/fphar.2014.00017
- Yonkers, Kimberly Ann et al. “Premenstrual syndrome.” Lancet (London, England)vol. 371,9619 (2008): 1200-10. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60527-9
- Zhang, Jian, and Chu Chen. “Endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol protects neurons by limiting COX-2 elevation.” The Journal of biological chemistry vol. 283,33 (2008): 22601-11. doi:10.1074/jbc.M800524200
- Boggs, Douglas L et al. “Clinical and Preclinical Evidence for Functional Interactions of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol.” Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology vol. 43,1 (2018): 142-154. doi:10.1038/npp.2017.209
Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
CBD for Menstrual Cramps – August 2022
Cannabidiol is one of the active phytocannabinoids of Cannabis sativa . Although CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid , it still exerts numerous beneficial pharmacological effects, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (5 ) .
CBD works with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is responsible for regulating inflammation and pain (6) .
The ECS has two types of cannabinoid receptors, namely CB1 and CB2. These cannabinoid receptors are located in different parts of the body. CB1 receptors are prominently found in the central nervous system, while CB2 is found on cells in the immune system (7) .
Endocannabinoids are types of cannabinoids naturally produced by the body. They activate those receptors and fasten to them to work with pain reduction and inflammation (8) .
CBD is a primary component of medical marijuana. However, the compound is derived from the hemp plant or is manufactured in a laboratory ( 9) .
What Are Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea are throbbing pains in the lower abdomen . Many women experience such a condition before and during their menstrual cycle (10) .
Some women endure severe menstrual cramps that can interfere with everyday activities for a few days (11) .
Research suggests that dysmenorrhea is the leading cause of absence from work and school among women of reproductive age. Menstrual cramps may also be a risk factor for other chronic pain conditions (12 ) .
The Benefits of Using CBD for Menstrual Cramps
There is no published research on using CBD for menstrual cramps . However, its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects may help alleviate period pains .
Dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps are caused by the release of prostaglandins (PGs) and may be caused by external factors like stress (13) . PGs are a class of lipids that control several operations in the body, particularly the healing process (14) .
Prostaglandins also play a significant role in various processes of the female reproductive system. These hormone-like substances primarily control ovulation and trigger muscle contractions that cause menstrual pain (15) .
P rostaglandins can make pain-perceiving nerves hypersensitive. CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ) may help desensitize these nerves. Both cannabinoids may target nerve receptors , such as TRPV1 (transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1) and CB1, to reduce pain sensation (16) .
Cramping during menstruation is made worse by contractions of the muscle that lines the uterus. CBD and THC may function as a relaxant to smooth muscle cells (17) .
A 2016 open-label study examined the long-term effect of medicinal cannabis treatment on pain. After the treatment, 274 participants reported improved pain (18 ) .
The results also suggested the long-term benefit of cannabis treatment. However, the findings are exclusive in this group of patients (19) .
Standard Therapies for Menstrual Cramps
Painkillers like naproxen and ibuprofen , which belong to a group of medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs ), are effective treatments for menstrual pain (20 ) .
These medications can relieve menstrual cramps by reducing the production of prostaglandins (21) . Although most women can tolerate NSAIDs , these treatments have side effects , such as stomach-related issues (22) .
Meanwhile, birth control pills can relieve menstrual pain by preventing ovulation, reducing PGs ’ production (23 ) .
When women use birth control pills, the lining of their womb does not become as thick as usual (24) . Therefore, they have a lighter period.
However, birth control pills also have side effects , such as headaches and nausea. Moreover, these pills increase the risk of thrombosis ( 25) . Such a condition happens when blood clots block a person’s blood vessels (26) .
Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
Most women commonly experience discomfort around their lower back, abdomen, and thighs when menstruating. Here are a few natural remedies women may try:
Some evidence suggests that applying warmth onto the abdomen with heat packs relieves painful periods (27 ) . Women may also use heating pads on their lower back for relief during menstruation .
Supplementation With Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A 2012 study from the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics showed that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids reduced the intensity of primary dysmenorrhea (28) .
In a double-blind crossover study, the researchers observed women aged 18 to 22 with primary dysmenorrhea (29) .
Women in the first group received one omega-3 capsule daily for three months, followed by a placebo for another three months. Meanwhile, women from group two received a placebo for three months, followed by omega-3 for another three months (30) .
As a rescue dose for severe menstrual pains , 400mg of ibuprofen was administered to the participants (31 ) .
After three months of treating the participants with omega-3 fatty acids , the researchers observed a marked reduction in pain intensity (32) .
In addition, women supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids required fewer rescue doses than those who received a placebo (33) .
A study from the Journal of Nutraceuticals, Functional and Medical Foods showed that hemp seed oil contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a 3:1 ratio. The omega-3 found in hemp oil is a much more stable form than fish oil (34) .
In a clinical trial, 50 women suffering from primary dysmenorrhea were treated with magnesium. After six months, 21 out of 25 women showed a decline in symptoms, and only four participants reported no therapeutic effect (35) .
Acupuncture is the process of using thin needles to penetrate the skin to treat pain. According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture balances the life force or flow of energy in the body (36) .
Although acupuncture has been tested in several studies, it has not been proven effective for pain (37) .
Sometimes the pain becomes severe enough that psychological treatment is considered. Medication may include consulting with a psychotherapist and learning methods to reduce pain, such as mindfulness exercises and relaxation (38 ) .
There is no published research about CBD’s direct effect s on menstrual cramps. However, its anti-inflammatory characteristics and pain-relieving properties may help with menstrual discomfort (39) .
On the other hand, surgery may be considered if the pain is caused by endometriosis , a condition where the tissue that usually lines inside a woman’s uterus grows outside (40) .
When a woman has an existing medical condition , it is always best to speak with a doctor regarding pain management before trying alternative treatment s .
CBD Ingestion Methods
If a woman considers CBD to help alleviate menstrual pain, there are different methods to take the substance. For instance, she may benefit from CBD through vaping and sublingual administration .
It is worth noting that these methods have different bioavailability rates or the percentage of an administered dose that reaches the target area in the body (41) .
Ingesting CBD using a vape pen is the fastest way to benefit from the substance (42) . However, the substance may irritate the lungs (43) . Meanwhile, sublingual administration , where a person takes the substance under the tongue, is the second-fastest method (44) .
CBD products range from full-spectrum CBD oil , tinctures , topicals , and gummies . Consumers may also opt for CBD isolate , which is the pure form of cannabidiol . It is a chemical compound present in the cannabis plant (45) .
How to Use CBD for Menstrual Cramps `
Here are a few CBD ingestion methods women may use to manage PMS symptoms and alleviate the pain caused by period cramps :
Women may apply CBD topically using CBD oils , lotions, and balms onto the affected area. However, the effect s may take a while, as topicals are not absorbed into the entire body compared to other methods (46) .
Suppositories are pills, generally in an oval or cone shape specially designed for administering certain medications through vaginal or anal cavities (47) .
Vaginal CBD suppositories work like tampons . However, they may be messy. Therefore, women may wear a pad for a little while after putting one inside their vagina.
Self-medication using CBD suppositories may lead to unwanted effects. Therefore, women should openly discuss this method with a doctor experienced in cannabis use.
CBD Dosage to Take for Menstrual Cramps
CBD has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) as a medication. Therefore, there is still no recommended CBD dosage for menstrual pain .
However, if a woman considers CBD for dysmenorrhea, CBD is generally safe to use (48) .
The initial dosage for CBD oil should be low and may be increased gradually until the desired effect is achieved. A standard dose of CBD ranges from 10mg to 100mg daily (49) .
However, if women find the standard doses excessive, they may try micro-dosing (50) . A microdose ranges from 0.5mg to 20mg of CBD per dose daily (51) .
Is CBD Better Than THC for Menstrual Cramps ?
Based on a 2018 report from the World Health Organization (WHO), CBD is a controlled substance that has not been fully proven to have severe side effects (52) .
Unlike THC , cannabidiol (CBD) is non-psychotic and non-addictive (53) . Thus, it may be safe for use even daily.
CBD is also federally legal across the United States (54) .
Does CBD Affect Menstrual Cycle?
F indings from a 2019 review hypothesized that CBD could be a viable option for managing menstrual symptoms (55) . However, there are no studies on whether CBD may affect the menstrual cycle.
CBD may be a promising chemical compound that is observed for being safe. However, further studies are still recommended to understand the full potential and long-term effects of CBD .
Many CBD brands promote the various health benefits of CBD . However, cannabidiol has yet to be proven to treat menstrual cramps and other PMS symptoms like bloating .
Women’s health and wellness are essential. Therefore, it is highly recommended that women consult their healthcare providers, especially when using CBD for the first time .
In addition, anecdotal evidence about CBD with little science to support the claims proliferates on the internet. Thus, consulting a physician with experience in cannabis use is beneficial.
8 Ways To Try CBD For Period Pain Relief
We’re guessing you’re here because, unlike the lucky few whose periods pass them by with little trials and tribulations, your menstrual cycle can be somewhat draining.
CBD may help reduce unpleasant period-related symptoms such as cramping, nausea and anxiety. If you’d like to give it a try yourself (in addition to the obligatory hot water bottle and tub of non-dairy Ben and Jerry’s, of course) we’ve highlighted eight ways in which the Good Hemp community has used CBD for period pain relief.
1. Adding Drops to Your Drink
Good Hemp’s pure CBD oil happens to be the perfect natural remedy for period pain. And you can feel good using it, too! As you know, we only use CBD isolate that’s extracted from 100% non-GMO hemp and is produced without any unwanted nasties or chemicals involved. Since our carrier, hemp seed oil , is high in omega 3 fatty acids but low in saturated fat, it’s also one of the healthiest CBD oils available in the UK.
A few drops of this potion can help alleviate cramps by reducing inflammation, which is the root cause of pain. Consider yourself a mixologist? Our original , citrus and peppermint-flavoured CBD oil drops make a great addition to your morning coffee, anti-PMS smoothies or even that well-earned after-work mocktail.
2. Applied topically
If you’re not a fan of the taste of CBD, you can also add our pure CBD oils to topical rubs or balms that you can massage directly into the skin. This is a popular option if you wish to soothe any achy areas that are causing discomfort during your period – such as your abdomen, groin or lower back – as it gets to work directly on the affected area. CBD can also help you say goodbye to your hormonal acne, as it is great at reducing sebum production, one of the main causes of acne. Just add a couple of drops into your moisturiser and apply (remember to cleanse first!)
3. In a Warm Bath
In addition to research suggesting that CBD can moisturise and heal the skin, drawing a CBD-infused bath can help reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation to your womb, resulting in less period pain. Add some drops of CBD oil to your bath along with soothing essential oils and fragrances, light a few candles and press play on your favourite Spotify playlist. Your womb will thank you later.
4. In Chocolate Brownies
What if we told you it’s possible to ease your chocolate cravings and ease period pain at the same time? There are plenty of indulgent recipes available for CBD-infused chocolate goodness – why not try adding a few drops of pure CBD oil to our mouthwatering hemp brownie balls or omega 3-rich hemp protein brownies ? You’ll have a tasty AF snack and period pain relief all rolled into one bite.
5. As a Suppository
CBD suppositories are small, round or cone-shaped objects that you can insert into your vagina, where they dissolve and release CBD oil which is then absorbed by the body. CBD suppositories are super effective for period pain relief as they allow the CBD to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream instead of working their way through the gastrointestinal tract first.
Fun fact: did you know that the pelvic region has one of the highest concentrations of cannabinoid receptors ? Another reason why inserting CBD suppositories is one of the most effective ways of CBD intake, especially for targeted period pain relief.
6. In a Tampon
Similarly, CBD tampons are brilliant for period pain relief. When inserted, they activate the cannabinoid receptors in our vagina, reducing the inflammation that causes menstrual pain.
At Good Hemp, we’re a big fan of Daye ’s CBD-infused tampons. They come in sustainable packaging, are sanitised for safety, and give you the right dose of CBD where you need it. This is how Daye cares for you as well as for the environment – a combination we love .
7. By Vaping
Another efficient way to get CBD into your bloodstream is to inhale it. If you need quick pain relief, using a vape pen is a great alternative to other methods – you’ll start to feel all the benefits in seconds. When you inhale CBD it’s absorbed into your entire body, instead of one targeted area – this means you’ll get to experience all the benefits of CBD , including its stress and anxiety-relieving properties.
Before trying this method, be sure you purchase high quality cartridges that are “solvent free” to reduce risk of vaping contamination, or ask your doctor to recommend a calibrated vaporiser, which will help you accurately control the dose of CBD you’re taking.
8. In a Lube
Because just because we’re on our period, doesn’t mean we don’t want to have fun! CBD can help you enjoy sex more when you’re on your period by reducing tension in the pelvic floor and relieving pain from cramps or penetration. A few sexier benefits (you’ll be pleased to know) can include increased sensitivity, relaxation – which can lead to stronger orgasms! – and in some cases, a boost to your sex drive. Let’s go!
If your time of the month is pretty pants, we hope that these natural period pain relief methods using pure CBD oil will make it a bit better – whether you want to sip it, soak in it or, well, have sex with it!
Disclaimer: CBD oil might not be enough to relieve severe period pain or endometriosis pain. If you need more severe pain relief, please talk to your doctor.