With all the buzz surrounding CBD today, more and more women are using CBD for menstrual cramps and the pain they can bring. Taking CBD for cramps is gaining momentum in the world of women’s health, primarily for CBD’s ability to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. That said, does it really work? What does science have to say about it? Are there clinical trials that prove its efficacy for menstrual cramps?
TL;DR – CBD has been hailed as a natural remedy for menstrual cramps and it’s a fast, effective, and safe treatment for uterine contractions before and during the menstrual cycle. However, clinical trials are limited and to prove its scientific efficacy, more studies need to be done.
What are Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps are throbbing pains in the lower abdomen that many women experience before and/or during their menstrual cycle. Some women don’t experience these pains, while some do experience mild symptoms. Others, however, have severe pain that’s debilitating that they can’t go to school, work, or get up from bed.
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One of the causes of menstrual cramps, or also known as dysmenorrhea, is due to the release of a lipid called Prostaglandins (PGs).
When a woman begins to shed the inner lining of her uterus when she’s about to have her menstrual cycle, her body releases these enzymes. The release of PGs may be due to external factors, such as stress or fluctuating hormones. Prostaglandins control a number of operations in the body, such as the healing process, as well as processes in the female reproductive system.
These processes include ovulation and muscle contractions, which are the culprit behind menstrual pain. PGs make pain-perceiving nerves more sensitive, and that is why some women may feel severe pain with dysmenorrhea, while others don’t.
Uterine contractions inhibit blood flow to the lining of the uterus, making women’s sensation of pain even more sensitive.
The Role of CBD For Menstrual Cramps
So how does CBD play a role in the treatment of menstrual cramps?
CBD’s anti-inflammatory benefits have been well-studied and highlighted. In fact, it’s CBD’s anti-inflammatory property that makes it one of the most coveted natural alternatives to pain medication. All disease comes from some form of inflammation in the body, and that is why CBD is so effective in treating a wide variety of diseases.
This includes dysmenorrhea, and even PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome, which include psychological symptoms aside from the physical symptoms of pain.
Though there is still no scientific proof that CBD is effective for menstrual cramps, a number of studies have shown promising results. One of these studies was done in 2019. According to a study from the Online Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, CBD’s properties of pain-relief and anti-inflammation may help with specific menstrual discomforts, which include lower back pain and lower abdominal cramps.
According to researchers of the study, CBD may be regarded as an alternative treatment for menstrual cramps and other premenstrual syndrome symptoms, which include nausea, headaches, and mood swings.
CBD As An Alternative Therapy for Menstrual Cramps
Aren’t there effective over-the-counter remedies for menstrual cramps? Yes, there are, such as NSAIDs, or otherwise known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These are painkillers such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and other drugs that are effective treatments for dysmenorrhea.
They relieve menstrual pain by reducing the production of PGs in the body by affecting the enzyme called cyclooxygenase or COX.
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However, these drugs have side effects that vary from person to person. Though most women can tolerate these side effects, some don’t, and there’s also a high risk of developing stomach ulcers for those who abuse the use of these NSAIDs. This is because there are two kinds of COX in the body, COX-1, and COX-2. While COX-2 is associated with inflammation, COX-1 is associated with maintaining the normal lining of the stomach and intestines, protecting it from harmful digestive juices.
What makes NSAIDs harmful, when abused, is that it affects both COX-1 and COX-2. While it effectively reduces the production of PGs that help to reduce pain, it also reduces COX-1’s ability to maintain the healthy lining of the stomach. Too much use of NSAIDs, therefore, increases the risk of stomach ulcers and other digestive issues.
As for CBD, studies have revealed that it only affects COX-2 and not COX-1. Experts have discovered that while CBD reduces inflammation, similar to how NSAIDs work, it has no effect on COX-1, making it safer than painkillers, and that is why it’s a better and healthier option for those who suffer from severe dysmenorrhea and PMS.
Benefits of Using CBD for Period Cramps
CBD’s ability to reduce inflammation is credited for its potential to be a healthier alternative to NSAIDs in treating menstrual cramps. But it doesn’t end there.
CBD provides other benefits than its pain-reducing properties. Here are some of CBD’s other benefits for menstrual health:
Since CBD helps to reduce the production of PGs in the body, it helps to reduce or eliminate muscle contractions in the uterus before or during the menstrual cycle. Reduced contractions mean fewer sensations of pain.
Ease Back Pain
Back pain is a serious symptom of PMS and dysmenorrhea. With anti-inflammation properties, other symptoms of pain in the body are also reduced, which include back pain.
Reduce Mood Swings
A few days before a women’s menstrual cycle, she may experience mood swings, such as increased irritability, enhanced depression, and anxiety. Outbursts of anger and annoyance are also common. CBD is known to have antidepressant and anxiolytic properties (anti-anxiety), which can help reduce mood swings, which are common in PMS.
The benefits of CBD for menstrual health are still being studied and very few have been published. Though more studies need to be done, the health benefits of CBD that are seen on other kinds of diseases and symptoms show that they can also be beneficial for menstrual and reproductive health.
Summary – Using CBD for Cramps
CBD is known for its wide range of health benefits, which include alleviating the pain associated with the menstrual cycle. Though further studies still need to be done to confirm the efficacy of CBD for menstrual cramps, recent studies have shown promising results.
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CBD’s ability to reduce inflammation is the main reason why it can be an effective and healthy way to reduce menstrual pain. By reducing inflammation, it can help to alleviate cramps, nausea, headaches, and even mood swings that are common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Journal of Biological Chemistry: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2504873/