If your monthly cycle sends you straight to bed with a hot water bottle and pain killers, you’re not alone.
Around 80% of people who menstruate will experience period pain at some point in their lives.
And for around 5-10% of people, this pain will be enough to disrupt their lives.
Since CBD oil may offer some promise as an anti-inflammatory and pain relief method, this has led many to wonder if it could be a viable option to help manage PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and painful periods.
CBD oil for PMS is not a recognised treatment, but it could help individuals lead a more active and balanced lifestyle.
It is also considered very safe to use, non-habit-forming and non-addictive.
What's in this Guide?
CBD Oil for PMS: What Do We Know?
Treating PMS requires a combined approach, as the symptoms can vary between individuals.
Individuals may also experience different symptoms every month.
In addition to cramps, it’s not uncommon for women to experience:
- Increased irritability
- Mood changes
- Changes in appetite
- Breast tenderness
- Bloating and stomach upsets
CBD may be used alongside other remedies such as pain killers, heat therapy, aromatherapy and TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to help individuals find relief during their monthly cycle.
What Causes PMS?
Fluctuating hormone levels are to blame for many PMS symptoms.
In many cases, period cramping is completely normal and simply the result of contractions in the uterine lining.
But in some cases, pain associated with periods can signal an underlying cause.
This could include endometriosis, where uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus, leading to painful cramps. Or fibroids, which are non-cancerous growths that develop in the uterus.
Painful periods also occur when there is a build-up of prostaglandins in the body.
These can lead to flu-like symptoms, including headaches and fatigue.
Prostaglandins are lipids produced at the site of tissue damage; they help form blood clots and trigger inflammation.
Higher levels of prostaglandins can cause severe menstrual cramps.
What is CBD?
CBD is a compound extracted from the cannabis plant. It doesn’t get you high, and it is also completely legal to buy and use in the UK – provided the THC content is below 0.02%.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a type of cannabinoid.
This compound is capable of interacting with and supporting our endocannabinoid system, which is present throughout the body.
Endocannabinoid receptors have been discovered in:
- Nerve cells in the brain
- Spinal cord
- The spleen
- White blood cells
- Endocrine gland
- Parts of the reproductive system
- The gut
- Urinary tract
- The skin
- The liver
- Cardiovascular system
The presence of endocannabinoid receptors in the reproductive system gives some hope that this substance could one day be a viable treatment for conditions such as painful periods.
Does CBD Help With PMS?
More research is needed to determine if CBD oil may be used for PMS and painful periods.
However, CBD is very safe for most people, provided it doesn’t interact with other medications.
If you decide to explore using CBD to help manage PMS and painful periods, we recommend taking a few steps to keep track of your symptoms.
First, it’s essential to understand that taking CBD is not the same as taking two paracetamol to combat pain in an instant.
Instead, you should consider it like a vitamin that needs to build up in your system.
Try taking CBD every day for 1-3 months to see if you notice any improvement.
Second, keeping a symptom diary can help you to spot any changes in how you feel. CBD oil is not an overnight miracle cure for all ailments, but it can be beneficial for enhancing your overall sense of wellbeing.
If you struggle to sleep during your monthly cycle, CBD could be beneficial for improving your sleep patterns.
Drowsiness is a commonly accepted side effect, so taking your CBD dose before bed could help you enjoy a more restful night’s sleep.
Can CBD Help Balance Hormones?
We don’t yet know if CBD can help balance hormones.
However, since the endocannabinoid system is involved in maintaining homeostasis throughout the body, supporting the ECS may offer some benefits.
There’s a lot we don’t understand about how CBD supports the ECS, but some believe that it boosts the concentration of endocannabinoids present in the body.
The body produces its own endocannabinoids, which are broken down after use by the enzyme FAAH.
One theory is that a defective endocannabinoid system leads to poor endocannabinoid production or that FAAH breaks down the endocannabinoids too soon.
This leads to poor signalling between cells, disrupting everything from appetite and sleep patterns to pain response.
CBD is thought to inhibit the production of FAAH, which gives your body a chance to build up its endocannabinoid stocks.
However, more research is needed to understand why the ECS might be deficient and how CBD can help to correct this.
Early suggestions point to factors such as stress and diet as contributing factors to a poorly functioning ECS.
Is CBD Oil Good For Mood Swings?
Research into CBD benefits is still very limited. There are only two CBD-based medications available in the UK, and these are rarely prescribed.
Sativex and Epidiolex are used to treat MS spasms and rare forms of epilepsy.
More research into the benefits of CBD for PMS and hormonal mood swings is needed, but this is not to say that individuals cannot explore this option in the meantime.
CBD is safe in moderate quantities – the FSA recommends individuals do not exceed more than 70mg per day.
CBD may be paired with other ingredients for an added boost.
For example, if you’re hoping to manage mood swings, look for CBD products with added ingredients such as turmeric.
Turmeric contains the compound curcumin, which is thought to help improve mood and memory in older adults.
Curcumin also offers anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits – which could help you to manage painful periods.