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CBD For PMS: Can It Help With Period Cramps & Other Common Symptoms?

Date 10th Nov 2021

CBD For PMS: Can It Help With Period Cramps & Other Common Symptoms?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) includes a wide variety of signs and symptoms from mood swings, fatigue, food cravings, tender breasts, and abdominal cramping that occurs 5–10 days before menstruation.

The cause for these symptoms isn't exactly known by researchers, but it's believed to involve the shift of two hormones, estrogen, and progesterone—two of the main female reproductive hormones.

For some women, PMS symptoms can become so severe that it impacts aspects of their daily lives—which may require pharmaceutical intervention from their primary care doctor. However, a non-prescription and natural compound many women are turning to in order to ease symptoms is cannabidiol (CBD).

CBD has been extensively studied for its potential towards supporting normal stress levels and may have anti-inflammatory properties that show a lot of promise in helping to address pain from cramping.

In this article, we'll investigate CBD's potential uses for women's health, how to use it effectively, and how to shop for quality products.

TL;DR:

  1. PMS has a wide range of symptoms that involves two main female reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone
  2. CBD is one of the main active compounds derived from cannabis plants with broad-acting effects on one's wellness, primarily acting on the endocannabinoid system
  3. CBD doesn't directly affect hormone changes in the body, but it may help to support stress, balance mood, improve cramping discomfort, and support a normal inflammatory response
  4. Research surrounding CBD for PMS symptoms is still new and requires more exploration, but that hasn't stopped many people from reaching for CBD products to reduce PMS symptoms
  5. CBD is a versatile compound that can be used both internally and topically to support women's health
  6. Always shop for CBD products from trusted brands that practice honesty and integrity with their manufacturing of CBD oil

What Is Premenstrual Syndrome?

The drastic changes in female reproductive hormone levels can trigger a range of effects that put women more at risk for bloating, irritability, fatigue, and cramping. 

Before we jump into the details of PMS symptoms and CBD's potential benefits, it's helpful to understand the menstrual cycle with a short introduction.

The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, and it consists of these 3 phases:

  1. The Follicular Phase: Occurs between the first day of the period and ovulation. Estrogen levels rise to stimulate the ovaries to produce follicles—one of which will mature into an egg. The growth of follicles signals the uterus lining to thicken in anticipation of a pregnancy.
  2. Ovulation: Takes place mid-cycle (2-weeks before mensuration) as the release of a mature egg from the ovary. Ovulation is triggered by high levels of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. The egg travels from the fallopian tube to the uterus.
  3. Luteal Phase: The follicle where the egg had come from stays on the surface of the ovary and transforms into the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum releases progesterone and small amounts of estrogen to thicken the uterine lining (endometrium) in preparation to nourish a fertilized egg.
  4. Mensuration: Occurs on the last day of the cycle. The lifespan of an egg in the uterus is only 24 hours unless it's fertilized by sperm. If this doesn't happen, menstruation begins. The endometrium undergoes programmed cell death and the tissue is shed through the vagina. During mensuration, estrogen and progesterone levels decline.

According to the U.S Department of Health & Human Services, 90% of women experience some premenstrual symptoms, and on average women in their 30s are more likely to experience PMS. 

While most females report experiencing some symptoms that don't drastically affect their daily routines, some of these symptoms can become so severe that it forces them to miss important commitments like school and work.

Common PMS Symptoms

PMS symptoms typically occur a week before mensuration and can last up to a week after the first day of starting one's period.

Some of the common PMS symptoms include:

  • Acne
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tender breasts
  • Food cravings
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Moodiness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

It's believed that the fluctuation in hormones during the phases directly relates to these symptoms, especially when it comes to changes in mood, anxiety, and bloating. Some genetics and lifestyle factors may contribute to the severity of these symptoms, and if you experience severe mood disorders or pain that start to affect your daily functioning, you should see your doctor.

How Can CBD Oil Help With PMS?

We want to clarify that there is no CBD product out there is FDA-approved to treat, mitigate, or cure PMS symptoms, and there's still a lot of research needed to understand CBD's relation to PMS—PMS is too complex for one single compound to tackle on its own.

However, some people anecdotally report success in using this cannabinoid to make their PMS more comfortable. 

Cannabidiol belongs to a class of phytochemicals called cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. Unlike its notorious counterpart, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD is non-intoxicating and may have more potential towards supporting one's mood, inflammation, and pain perception.

Let's get into some of the research.

1. CBD May Help To Balance Mood

Mood swings are often brought up when discussing PMS. When the body releases an egg, estrogen and progesterone levels decline, which also influence serotonin levels. Serotonin is a key hormone and neurotransmitter that regulates our mood and sense of happiness.

CBD doesn't directly affect hormone levels, but it has been shown to indirectly regulate serotonin levels. Anandamide is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that the body produces. It's also nick-named the "bliss molecule." Anandamide binds to CB1 receptors in the brain, which regulates the serotonin system [1].

Because of CBD's particular shape, it doesn't have an affinity to bind to CB1 receptors, but it does help to increase anandamide levels in the body by inhibiting the release of enzymes that break down the bliss molecule. On top of this, CBD has also been observed to increase the CB1 and CB2 receptor sensitivity to cannabinoids [2].

2. CBD May Have Muscle Relaxing Properties To Reduce Tension

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a complex signaling system that helps to keep the body in homeostasis for optimum function. One of the ECS' actions is to control muscle spasms and the pain associated with them. Unlike muscle relaxant medication, CBD doesn't numb pain. Instead, it strengthens the signaling in the ECS to get to the root of the cramping.

As we mentioned earlier, there isn't a lot of significant research supporting CBD on premenstrual cramping. 

Most of the research surrounding CBD as a muscle relaxant is conducted on multiple sclerosis—an autoimmune disease that attacks the protective layering of nerve cells resulting in muscle spasms and loss of coordination, patients with promising results [3].

3. CBD May Help With PMS Discomfort

One of the most popular reasons people reach for CBD is for pain relief.

Medical cannabis research surrounding cannabinoids use as a pain-reliever found that CBD to be effective at blocking pain signals without hijacking the reward center of the brain, making it less prone to substance abuse [4].

During your period, the uterus contracts to expel the lining and a release of a hormone-like substance called prostaglandins also triggers inflammation to the site, causing painful abdominal cramping.

How To Use CBD For PMS Discomfort

CBD is an incredibly versatile compound that's been used both internally (CBD oil, gummies, smokables, and teas) and topically (creams, lotions, balms) for inflammatory support, mood regulation, and relief from all sorts of discomfort.

When it comes to using CBD for PMS there are 3 main things to be aware of:

1. Hemp Quality

The quality of the hemp source and its manufacturing is crucial to making effective CBD products. Unfortunately, not all CBD brands are in it for the right reasons, which is why where you shop for your CBD products is just as important as the application itself.

Shop for brands that are transparent about their hemp sourcing and manufacturing practices. Hemp can be grown just about anywhere—but the quality of the soil matters. 

Hemp is a bioaccumulator, which means it absorbs nutrients and chemicals from its growing environment. If the hemp is grown on contaminated soil, it could end up in the final product and add a host of other problems you don't want to worry about on top of your PMS symptoms.

Reputable brands not only market quality hemp, but they also prove it with lab tests that showcase the potency of the hemp extract and its purity. The lab tests should be conducted from an accredited, third-party lab to remove biases surrounding the product.

2. Extract Type

When you're shopping for CBD products, you'll come across three types of hemp extract—full spectrum, isolate, and broad spectrum.

Most experts and anecdotal experiences on the web recommend full spectrum as the best extract type for supporting PMS symptoms. Among the three extract types, full spectrum resembles the hemp plant the closest. It contains a range of cannabinoids and terpenes in hemp to amplify the effects of CBD while curbing some potential side effects. This is called the entourage effect.

Since hemp plants contain up to 0.3% THC, it's not accessible to everyone, especially if you live in an area that has strict THC restrictions or if you have CBD sensitivities, the next best bet is to opt for a broad spectrum CBD extract.

Broad spectrum starts out as a full spectrum extract but it undergoes additional processing to isolate and remove all traces of THC. In effect, you still leverage the entourage effect.

CBD isolate products are generally cheaper because they don't require as much careful processing to preserve the cannabinoids and terpenes. While CBD isolate will still work, you'll likely need higher doses to achieve the same effects as you would with extracts that can leverage the entourage effect.

3. Dosage

When it comes to alleviating discomfort and supporting a normal inflammatory response, multiple studies have found higher doses of CBD (50MG +) to be more effective.

The tricky thing is that the dose of CBD is always dependant on the individual. CBD works on the endocannabinoid system to support homeostasis (balance) and everyone's genetics, lifestyle, and PMS may affect how much CBD you need.

If you're new to CBD, it's recommended to start with low doses and build your way up to higher doses to allow your endocannabinoid system to adjust to supplementation.

When it comes to topical CBD products, you don't have to worry about overdoing it and experiencing negative side effects. CBD applied to the skin doesn't enter the bloodstream. It interacts with endocannabinoid receptors in the skin tissue to support inflammation and pain regulation—but it won't do much to support your overall mood.

What Are The Side Effects Of CBD?

While CBD is non-intoxicating and has been deemed safe and well-tolerated by the World Health Organization (WHO), it doesn't mean its' completely risk-free. However, the risks and side effects of CBD are very mild and rare.

Some of the side effects you should be aware of when supplementing CBD into your diet include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Luckily, these side effects can be avoided by using quality CBD products and finding the right dosage that works for you. If you experience these side effects after taking too much CBD, you should ease off the amount of CBD you took.

Neurogan CBD Products To Support PMS

At Neurogan, we take honesty and integrity values from our Danish roots into everything we do in our business. Our hemp is farmed on American soil using organic practices. Our extracts are meticulously tested by our team and a third-party lab to ensure the highest quality standards.

Since we stand firmly behind the profound effects of the entourage effect, you won't find CBD isolate products in our catalog—but we understand that full spectrum products aren't ideal for everyone, which is why most of our products are also available in a THC-free broad spectrum option.

Here is a glimpse of some of our CBD products that are ideal for supporting women's health and PMS.

CBD Oil

CBD oils are a product staple for a CBD brand. We've carefully crafted our CBD oils to keep our high-quality hemp crops the star of the show.

CBD oil also provides a wide range of versatility as you can take them sublingualy (under the tongue) for fast acting effects, or mix our flavored options into your favorite foods and drinks for wellness with a unique twist.

CBD oils are a favorite for beginners and experts alike for their versatility, but also because you can customize your doses drop by drop. These come in a wide range of potencies from 500MG to a whopping 12,000MG of CBD—the strongest in the industry.

CBD Gummies

For those who don't enjoy the natural bitter terpene flavor in hemp oils, but still want the whole plant benefits, CBD gummies might be a better solution for you.

We hand-batch these gummies in San Diego at a cGMP facility and make them fresh-to-order. These also come in a wide range of flavors to mask the hempy taste and potencies from 25MG per gummy to 90MG for ultra-high potencies.

The nice thing about gummies is that you still have some control over the dose as you can choose to half to quarter your gummies to meet your daily CBD requirements.

Whole Hemp CBD Tea

For those looking for the most natural way to enjoy the benefits of hemp, we offer whole hemp teas in an original flavor containing premium quality CBD-rich flower or hemp and chamomile tea which is more suited for sleep.

The Takeaway: CBD May Show Some Potential To Provide Comfort From PMS Symptoms

While the evidence surrounding CBD for PMS is promising, more research is needed in this space.

Despite the lack of research supporting CBD for PMS, many people are reaching for CBD for pain relief from cramps, muscle tenderness, and mood management. However, if you're experiencing depression or severe pain that's interfering with your commitments, you should seek medical advice.

Overall, CBD works best when combined with other lifestyle changes such as finding ways to address your PMS symptoms naturally through proper diet, exercise, and adequate sleep, and stress management techniques.

To learn more about CBD and its potential benefits, you can find articles like this on our blog and subscribe to our Insider Scoop for industry news and exclusive deals on Neurogan products sent straight to your inbox.

References:

  1. Haj-Dahmane, S., & Shen, R. Y. (2011). Modulation of the serotonin system by endocannabinoid signaling. Neuropharmacology, 61(3), 414–420. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.02.016
  2. Leweke, F. M., Piomelli, D., Pahlisch, F., Muhl, D., Gerth, C. W., Hoyer, C., Klosterkötter, J., Hellmich, M., & Koethe, D. (2012). Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. Translational psychiatry, 2(3), e94.
  3. Peer W. F. Karmaus, James G. Wagner, Jack R. Harkema, Norbert E. Kaminski, Barbara L. F. Kaplan. (2013) Cannabidiol (CBD) enhances lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced pulmonary inflammation in C57BL/6 mice. Journal of Immunotoxicology 10:3, pages 321-328.
  4. Blake, A., Wan, B. A., Malek, L., DeAngelis, C., Diaz, P., Lao, N., & O’Hearn, S. (2017). A selective review of medical cannabis in cancer pain management. Ann Palliat Med, 6(Suppl 2), S215-S222
Katrina Lubiano
Katrina Lubiano

Katrina Lubiano is a content writer in the health and wellness space based in Vancouver, Canada — Canada's epicenter for cannabis culture. When she's not working, she enjoys sailing, watercolor painting, and cooking.