Period cramps are the worst. So are mood swings and headaches. While some prefer to slap on a heating pad and dive for a bar of chocolate, cannabis has long been a popular choice for that time of the month. Not only is the plant a strong painkiller, but a nice herbal buzz can really brighten a turbulent day. In fact, many fans find that, when it comes to PMS, cannabis is the best natural cramp-killer around.

What is PMS?

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Often, when people hear the term “PMS” they think of bad cramps or a serious case of the grumps during a woman’s period. However, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) technically refers to a variety of symptoms the few days leading up to that special time of the month.

Some of them include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings

Unfortunately, ladies, experiencing some of these symptoms prior to a period is normal for everyone. Yet, when they interrupt daily life, they’re given the label PMS. For some women, breast pain, cramps, and emotional turmoil are so severe that they interfere with work and relationships.

This occurrence has been given the name premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Does cannabis help PMS?

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Cannabis has a long history as a women’s healing aid. As cited in a 2002 review, as early as 2000 BC, tonics made with hemp seed, saffron, mint, and beer were given to women to ease pain during a difficult childbirth. In 1596, a Chinese medical text listed the use of cannabis flowers to ease symptoms during menstruation.

The legendary Queen Victoria even famously used the herb for relief from painful cramping, and Victorian doctors were happy to prescribe. In fact, she received some nice Cannabis indica each month.

Nowadays, even with the herb’s illegality in most parts of the world, women still use cannabis to self-treat problems of the womb. This includes countless women who use the plant to self-treat conditions related to pregnancy, despite the social and potential medical risks.

There is little contemporary research on cannabis and women’s menstrual health, yet the plant can ease symptoms of PMS in a number of ways.

1. Period cramps

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Cramps are a huge part of having a period. Painful cramping can happen in the days leading up to menstruation and often continue the whole way through. This cramping happens when hormones trigger muscle contractions in the uterus. These cramps are similar to small-scale labor contractions.

Fortunately, preclinical research suggests that the primary psychoactive in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is a muscle relaxant. The herb can be applied topically via a cannabis-infused cream or in a transdermal patch.

While smoking is always an option, vaporization is also a healthier way to take your mind off of the pain and discomfort. Some lucky individuals even have access to cannabis-infused suppositories to relieve cramps in a localized area.

2. Aches and pains

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Back pain, breast tenderness, and generalized abdominal pain are extremely common for women around the globe. Cannabis is well known for its powerful pain fighting abilities.

Both psychoactive cannabis and strains high in cannabidiol (CBD) are popular for the treatment of all sorts of pain conditions, from muscle spasms to cancer pain. Let’s face it, aches and general malaise before and during the period probably don’t stand a chance.

3. Headaches

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Women can experience various types of headaches during PMS and menstruation, including “menstrual migraines”. For those who find themselves with a bad headache, cannabis might be there to help. A 2016 study found tested the effects of inhaled cannabis in migraine patients.

The study, published in Pharmacotherapy, included 121 adult participants and was conducted between 2010 and 2014. While not related to a menstural migraine specifically, the herb did reduce the number of monthly migraines from 10.4 to 4.6. A substantial difference, it seems.

4. Mood

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The days leading up to the period can be rough. This time frame is known as the luteal phase and the body changes quite a bit while preparing to shed uterine tissue. For those with PMS and PMDD, these hormonal shifts can cause some real emotional ups and downs.

When times get rocky, many turn to cannabis to lift spirits and promote positive well-being. In preclinical studies, small doses of cannabis compounds have antidepressant effects. In rodents, CBD, a cannabis compound that doesn’t cause a psychoactive “high” has shown to provide symptom relief almost immediately.

Feeling a little off? Maybe it’s time to stop and smell some delightful green flower.

5. Diarrhea

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While not the prettiest topic, many women with PMS and PMDD experience gastrointestinal distress while menstruating. Menstrual cramps are thought to contribute to a bad case of the runs, but other factors might lend a hand.

As a muscle relaxant, cannabis eases muscle cramps. The plant is also a potent anti-inflammatory, which may be useful for those with conditions of the bowels.

Strains for PMS

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Wondering which bud pick up for relief from period cramps, PMS, or PMDD? Find some popular selections below:

For more information on cannabis strains, check out the strain database.