PMS and its symptoms can be debilitating to say the least, especially since it strikes once a month and can last for multiple days. In this article we explore how cannabis can help you manage symptoms of PMS.
PMS is a tough time. Causing everything from headaches and mood swings to severe cramps, it can be a really debilitating syndrome, especially since it strikes every month. Luckily, research suggests cannabis can help manage some of the symptoms associated with PMS, including pain, cramps, headaches, and mood swings.
WHAT IS PMS?
Any woman will know what PMS is, and most will experience it in some way. PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome, is kind of an umbrella term for a wide variety of symptoms usually affecting women between ovulation and their period.
These symptoms vary, but can include:
- Mood swings
- Swelling/tenderness of the breast
- Low sex drive
There are roughly 150 symptoms associated with PMS. The exact symptoms and their severity can vary from one woman to another, and can also change depending on factors such as stress.
But while PMS might affect women differently, one thing’s for sure; PMS is extremely unpleasant, and most women are constantly looking for new and improved ways to manage their symptoms.
Well, luckily for the ladies, research suggests that cannabis may do just that.
CAN CANNABIS HELP MANAGE PMS SYMPTOMS?
Cannabis has received a lot of attention lately. Thanks to new research, we are finally able to re-classify this ancient plant, better understand it, and learn new ways to use it to our advantage.
But when it comes to cannabis and PMS, our ancestors may have been way ahead of us. A 2002 historical review of cannabis and its role in obstetrics and gynaecology, Ethan Russo noted that cannabis has long been a part of women’s health.
For example, Russo pointed to a 16th-century Chinese medical text which clearly listed cannabis (or “ma,” as it was called in the text) as a medicine for easing cramps during menstruation.
Russo also noted that Queen Elizabeth used cannabis to treat her menstrual cramps. In fact, for a long time, Victorian doctors regularly prescribed cannabis for menstrual pain.
Unfortunately, research into cannabis and its role in women’s health is scarce. Nonetheless, thanks to other research on the plant, we now know it has many generalized effects that can help women manage their monthly PMS symptoms.
CANNABIS FOR MENSTRUAL CRAMPS, ACHES AND PAINS
One of the main areas women may benefit from the health benefits of cannabis is to take advantage of its painkilling effects.
Painful cramps are a very common symptom of PMS and can affect women from the first days of menstruation all the way to the end. Fortunately, research suggests that women can benefit from the pain-relieving properties of both THC and CBD.
Preclinical research by Ethan Russo published in the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests that THC can act as a muscle relaxant. Therefore it may help calm tense muscles causing cramps during a period.
To test these effects for yourself, try using a topical solution with THC and applying it to your lower abdomen. Alternatively, you may also consider vaping cannabis or a concentrate, but just beware that you’ll be left dealing with the psychoactive high that follows.
If you want to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC, you may want to consider microdosing or using a product or strain with low levels of THC. CBD-rich strains may be a good alternative, although THC is typically considered a better painkiller.
CANNABIS FOR HEADACHES
Headaches and migraines are also very common symptoms of PMS. Luckily, research suggests that cannabis may help alleviate them too.
According to a 2016 study published in the Pharmacotherapy journal, cannabis can help reduce monthly migraines. The study included 121 adult participants dealing with regular migraines and studied the effects that cannabis use had on the patients.
The authors found that, among those patients using cannabis, the number of monthly migraines dropped from 10.4 to 4.6. Now, it’s important to note that this study didn’t specifically look at headaches associated with PMS. Nonetheless, the fact that cannabis drove down headaches in the test group by over 50% is noteworthy.
Again, if you suffer from headaches during PMS and are looking for an alternative treatment, cannabis may be a great option. Again, we recommend microdosing THC (either by vaping) or, if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where cannabis is legal, you may want to opt for edibles for a more controlled dose.
CANNABIS FOR MOOD
We all know that cannabis affects our mood. And when it comes to PMS, that can be a really good thing. The changes that take place in a woman’s body during or before menstruation often cause strong mood swings that can be difficult to control.
Women typically experience mood swings in the days leading up to a period, which is known as the luteal phase. As the body prepares to shed uterine tissue, it undergoes a variety of changes, which can cause quite the emotional roller coaster for many women.
Today we know that many people turn to cannabis for an emotional boost. In fact, studies show that cannabis may help people dealing with the emotional stress of mental issues such as anxiety and depression.
These effects are generally attributed to CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis and hemp plants. Research compiled in a 2015 literature review on anxiety, for example, showed that can be an effective treatment for anxiety.
While it’s not completely understood how, research suggests that CBD may help block the absorption of serotonin in the brain temporarily. This boost of serotonin may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and also help improve mood.
CANNABIS: A NEW WAY OF DEALING WITH PMS?
Cannabis has received a ton of attention lately. And thanks to the growing body of research on the plant and its compounds we’re constantly finding new ways that cannabis may help us live healthier and happier lives.
It’s important to note that there’s a real shortage of research into cannabis and its effects on PMS. Nonetheless, there’s a strong body of literature showing that cannabis can help relieve pain, muscular tension and headaches, and possibly help lift your mood, too.
These are important considerations, seeing that all of these symptoms are really common during PMS. And while we have no specific studies on the topic, you may want to consider self-medicate using cannabis and assessing how it helps you manage your PMS symptoms.