Menstrual cramps affect half the human population, yet there’s a surprising lack of products available to effectively alleviate this reoccurring pain.
Photo by Ashley Armitage / Refinery29 for Getty Images
Menstrual cramps affect half the human population, yet there’s a surprising lack of products available to effectively alleviate this reoccurring pain. Women are forced to wait it out and suffer quietly. Any outward sign of irritability from this pain is apparently an eye-roll-worthy offense, received by society at large with infantilizing suggestions (mostly from men) that you’re being “over-emotional” or “just PMSing,” as if a week of constant pain and discomfort shouldn’t affect your mood.
Understandably, many women are prepared to try just about anything to achieve relief. While marijuana has long been used by women to alleviate period pain—including Queen Victoria herself—the advent of CBD-specific products has opened new doors for treating this monthly torment.
While the research is still young, many women have found CBD to alleviate, or at least take the edge off of, menstrual pain. Even Whoopi Goldberg and Maya Elisabeth are now selling medical marijuana products that are intended to achieve just this. Some women find that “THC tampons” do the trick, but there’s also another option: CBD pills.
Taking CBD pills, opposed to THC tampons, are a slightly less intimidating option for women who are looking for pain relief, but don’t normally use cannabis. Although CBD is a cannabinoid, like THC, it doesn’t have any psychoactive properties, meaning you won’t get high from taking a pure CBD pill. And if you’re new to cannabis, using it vaginally isn’t exactly a dip-your-toe-into-the-pool consumption method.
CBD pills might also be a better option for some women who have IUD’s—a popular birth control method that prevents monthly menstrual bleeding, but not the cramps and abdominal pain.
CBD pills typically contain both the cannabinoid CBD and some sort of oil that will allow your body to absorb the CBD. You simply take the CBD pill on a full stomach with water and let it do its magic.
A number of studies have shown cannabis to be an effective treatment for certain types of pain, even though research directly addressing cannabis’ ability to relieve menstrual pain is lacking (mostly due to federal prohibition). This is why most states with medical marijuana laws permit the use of cannabis for pain treatment. While menstrual pain isn’t mentioned specifically, there’s no reason to believe period pain would, or should, be excluded.
When you consume marijuana, the plant’s cannabinoids interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, specifically your CB1 and CB2 receptors. Studies have shown that this interaction between the cannabinoids found in marijuana and your endocannabinoid system can help manage pain. Other studies have found that CB1 and CB2 receptors exist in cells within the uterus, which means that the pain relieving properties of cannabis should theoretically work for relieving menstrual pain.
For the greatest relief, many researchers believe that CBD works best in concert with THC, even if only a small amount. This is known as the entourage effect. However, it’s worth noting that not all researchers are convinced that this is true. (Like everything in the cannabis space, more research is needed.)
The beauty of CBD pills is that they’re cheap to try (you can buy a single pill at the dispensary for a few dollars), and won’t make you feel high or abnormal. The worst thing that will happen from trying CBD pills is that they won’t work for you. On the other hand, you may find—as many women report—that CBD does, in fact, relieve your menstrual pain. So go ahead—the only thing you stand to lose is pain.