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Period Pains & Cannabis: Can it help?

Last Updated: March 03, 2022By Joshua Mezher

By now, it has become clear that marijuana can work wonders for all kinds of medical ailments. One of the primary uses of medical marijuana is fighting pain. This includes many different types of pain, such as migraines, joint pain, muscular pain, and more. But what about period pain? Can cannabis help with period pain? 

Most women have experienced cramps at some point in their life, so they can likely understand the benefits marijuana could have if it indeed helps ease some of their monthly pains. Let’s take a look at medicinal cannabis and its possible uses for menstrual pain. Cannabis period pain relief could be a game-changer!

The History of Cannabis as Medicine

Despite its more recent rap, cannabis has been used as medicine for thousands of years. As long ago as 2900 BC, the Chinese emperor documented marijuana as a popular medicine of its time. The written references continue from there, mainly in China until 1500 BC. Ancient Egyptians used cannabis to treat ailments such as inflammation and glaucoma. In India in 1000 BC, a mixture of milk and cannabis was used as anesthesia. Many references from ancient history mention cannabis, spanning all across the world.

In less ancient history (between the 1600s and 1700s), some evidence suggests that William Shakespeare smoked marijuana, presumably to stimulate his creativity. It was recommended for depression in a well-known British book on mental health. George Washington himself even appreciated the medical applications of marijuana and grew it on his own plantation. 

Related: How Cannabis Became Pot

In England in the mid-1800s, Queen Victoria used medical cannabis to treat her menstrual cramps. Victorian England used cannabis for various conditions, including rabies, epilepsy, tetanus, muscle spasms, and rheumatism. It was usually taken in the form of tinctures instead of smoking. It was also commonly used in other Western European countries, such as France, where it was documented for headaches, insomnia, and stimulating appetite. 

It is officially referenced in the US Pharmacopeia in 1850, which listed many uses for the herb, including dysentery, opium addiction, insanity, excessive menstrual bleeding, tonsillitis, cholera, alcoholism, incontinence, and many more.

In the early 1900s, it was commonly used in South Asia to treat asthma and bronchitis issues. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed a medicine labeling law that explicitly grouped cannabis into a list of medicines that required labels. Just 6 years later, however, prohibition was starting to set in, and Massachusetts outlawed cannabis. By 1927, ten more states followed suit. It was still being used widely in the 1930s for medical purposes but under new, stricter regulations. Despite these rules, in 1937, the American Medical Association still supported medical marijuana research.

Although many studies continued to show that cannabis had medicinal properties and was less dangerous than alcohol, by 1970, it was classified as a drug with no accepted medical use. It continued being fought and used for medical purposes until more recently. In 1978, New Mexico recognized it as a substance with medical value. Many states followed suit. Now, the majority of US states have a medical marijuana program of some kind. 

How Cannabis Works

For those thinking about using medical cannabis, period pain could be a good reason to try it. Many people who have never used cannabis decide to try it for the first time to treat a specific ailment. Period pain is undoubtedly one of the issues that make it worth trying. If you’re one of those people, read on for the hows and whys cannabis works for pain of all kinds, including period pain.

Cannabis has over a hundred cannabinoids, which are compounds that the body absorbs and reacts to. Your body has lots of cannabinoid receptors all over in different systems. They are found in joints, in the kidneys, in the liver, in the lungs, and, most importantly, in the central nervous system. The “natural” reason we have these in our bodies is for endocannabinoids – compounds that exist naturally – to attach to. These endocannabinoids are part of a larger system that is intertwined with things like inflammation and pain. Because cannabinoids (the compounds in marijuana) can attach to our cannabinoid receptors, they interact with these kinds of activities.

In other words, experts believe the unique interaction of marijuana with our endocannabinoid system is the reason it works so well to relieve pain and inflammation, among other things.

Related: How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Your System

It’s also important to consider which cannabinoids we’re talking about. Most people think about THC when they think of weed. THC, whose long name is Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, is the most frequently discussed because it causes a psychoactive reaction. In other words, THC gets you high.

However, there is also a second cannabinoid that is very often talked about nowadays: CBD. The longer name for CBD is cannabidiol. If you use cannabis high in CBD but low in (or has no) THC, you will not get high from it. This is part of why medical marijuana is often CBD-focused; people can use it as medicine without it affecting their thinking or state of mind.

So, does cannabis ease period pain? It is important to note that there are over a hundred cannabinoids, so marijuana products do not only have CBD or THC (or both); there are many smaller ones as well. The fact remains that much more research is needed (in general, research has been underfunded for the past few decades), so the reasons behind many types of pain relief, including period pain, are not always crystal clear.

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Why Cannabis May be Great for Menstrual Pain

Bearing all that in mind, the question remains: Does cannabis ease period pain? As mentioned above, there still is not enough evidence to say with certainty that it helps everybody who experiences period pain. However, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that looks highly promising, including Queen Victoria’s own use of it for her menstrual cramps.

Part of the reason marijuana may be helpful for period pain is its mood-boosting qualities. Because of the high and the feeling of euphoria it produces, general pain is felt less intensively, making pain of any kind more bearable. However, lots of anecdotal and historical evidence shows that it is beneficial for relieving period pain specifically. CBD has not been studied enough, so the actual scientific basis for this is not necessarily fully understood. That said, the activation by THC of our CB1 receptors is known to reduce the severity of pain signals.

In fact, in 1700s China, cannabis was explicitly documented as a useful drug to relieve menstrual cramps. This is in addition to the most famous example of Queen Victoria. While these are the most clearly written examples, it is clear that women have used marijuana to relieve menstrual cramps for a long time.

There is an abundance of evidence that shows that marijuana helps with muscle spasms by relaxing the muscles. Muscles contracting is a major contributor to period pain. Both THC and CBD clearly help with relaxing muscles. So, it follows that they will also help with the muscle spasms that cause period pain.

Another reason cannabis may be great for relieving menstrual pain is that it is not a pharmaceutical. The main treatment option for many women who experience period pain is over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen. Although the side effects for most people when taking these drugs is minimal, the fact remains that they are shown to do damage over time. Using ibuprofen over long periods damages the stomach, for example.

The side effects of medical marijuana are minimal by comparison. Most side effects include temporary dry eye or possibly paranoia and anxiety in certain strains with high THC. These are all temporary and will not do major damage over time the way many pharmaceutical pills will. Simply put: there is no pain killing medication less toxic than cannabis, period. So, for people who suffer from particularly severe cases of menstrual cramps, trying something like medical marijuana is absolutely worth it. The best part? If you do find it helps with your period pain, you are substituting it for harmful pills that can have major adverse effects.

Can cannabis help with period pain? In summary, the answer is yes, it can. It might not work perfectly for everyone, or the perfect strain might take a little while to find, but the side effects are negligible or even non-existent, and it is an all-natural way to try out a new, possibly more effective monthly pain relief. Why not give it a try?

Related: How to Make Medical-Grade Marijuana Oil

Relief that doesn’t involve smoking

For many medical marijuana users, smoking is simply not an option. Whether it’s because of lung issues, vocal needs, or other health concerns, many people prefer not to smoke if they can help it. So are there other ways for people to get the medical marijuana they need? Luckily, these days, there are tons of different options available.

First of all, you don’t necessarily need to ingest anything at all. Lots of people with pain in specific locations use topical creams, for example. These creams are infused with cannabis and can be used for different body locations and various types of pain. For example, arthritis sufferers can apply a THC cream directly to the skin surrounding painful joints. Applying a topical cannabis cream directly onto the abdominal area can help women suffering from menstrual cramps. This method puts the cannabinoids where the pain is located, quickly relaxing those muscles and reducing the cramping in that area quickly and effectively.

Another often forgotten option is cannabis suppositories. There are products such as cannabis tampons or suppositories with either THC or CBD types (or both). Suppositories are about the size of a pill, and they or the cannabis tampons are inserted just like a tampon or other kinds of suppositories. According to reviews, they can be much more effective than other types of medical cannabis.

Finally, edibles are a popular option for many people, including those who do not want to smoke. One of the easiest ways of “eating” marijuana is through cannabis oils or tinctures. Just a couple drops can make a big difference for pain of all kinds, including period pain. Oils can be placed under the tongue or added to foods for maximum enjoyment while consuming them. 

The Dangers of Using Cannabis

As great as it may sound, cannabis is not a perfect solution for everyone. Context matters, too, since it is not legally available to everyone. In places where it is harder to access or is entirely illegal, you’re only going to find illegal weed. That means it is harder to get safe, clear information about a particular strain or product. Legalization makes marijuana safer and more reliable for those looking to try medical marijuana.

Marijuana can also come with a few drawbacks. People looking for cannabis period pain relief should consider the implications before jumping right in. Marijuana that has THC, for example, generally gives the user a “high” (though not with suppositories). If pain relief is your goal, this side effect may be unwanted.  It may also severely limit your daily activities. You shouldn’t drive a car after using THC-based medical marijuana, for example.

Additionally, sometimes marijuana can make people feel anxious. Therefore, people prone to anxiety should carefully consider what strain they are buying or growing so they can get maximum pain relief without causing further problems. Still, we said it before, and we’ll say it again: there is no pain killing medication less toxic than cannabis, period.

Even in places where medical marijuana is fully legalized, the safest and most “customizable” option for your personal needs is growing your own marijuana plants. It’s easy to do, and you can easily make your own tinctures to add to food or consume on their own. By growing a marijuana plant from a seed to bud, you’ll know exactly what you are consuming and can focus on identifying the perfect strain for cannabis period pain relief instead of taking a chance on whatever you’ve purchased. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can marijuana help with period pain?

Yes, It might not work perfectly for everyone, or the perfect strain might take a little while to find, but the side effects are negligible

Is there any evidence that getting high helps with menstrual cramps?

In 2015, researchers from the University of British Columbia, asked a sample of 192 women and 90% of them said getting high helps dealing with menstrual cramps?


Which marijuana strains are best for PMS?

Here are some strains that experts believe will help during menstrual cramps: White Widow, Sour Diesel, Blue Dream, Pink Kush and Super Lemon Haze
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