For centuries, cannabis has been used as a remedy for pain, but can it heal period cramps?
I think it’s no news that periods aren’t the most enjoyable thing in the world. However, for many, periods aren’t only a little discomfort you can live with for a few days of the month, but a true nightmare. Let’s not dive into cultural matters that make the experience difficult. We only need to focus on the physiological aspects of periods that turn them into something unbearable, like the horrible cramps that some suffer more than others. While for some Ibuprofen is enough, there are many others, for instance people suffering from endometriosis, for whom the pain of cramps is so bad that they can’t even leave their house or they suffer other symptoms like nausea, headaches, and vomiting. I truly believe that the pain of cramps is what make periods really nasty. So, is there a way to get rid of it, besides over-the-counter medicine, which sometimes doesn’t help at all? Well, there might be a possible relief in THC, one of the main components in cannabis.
While the use of cannabis to treat period pain might seem innovative, it can be traced back to the 7th century BC, specifically ancient Mesopotamia, where women would use hemp seeds for the pain. Cannabis was also used in other ancient cultures, like in Egypt, Persia, and Arabia, to help with childbirth as well. And now, scientists are starting to take a look at the analgesic properties of THC to decide whether one of the medicinal uses of cannabis can include relieving dysmenorrhea (the scientific name of period cramps). But, let’s be objective: has it been proven that weed can cure the pain of cramps?
Marijuana’s components and benefits are still being studied, but among the positive effects, according to a study published in the Life Science journal, it was discovered that THC decreases progesterone levels during the second half of your period, which also decreases premenstrual symptoms caused by hormonal imbalances. Moreover, CBD, another key component of cannabis, reduces inflammation, which is basically one of the main reasons why cramps are so painful. That’s why if you look for cannabis-based medicines or materials to use during your period, like tampons or oils, you’ll see that most of them contain this anesthetic component.
Nonetheless, it’s also worth looking at the other side of the coin. According to an interview that Dr. Charles Pollack from the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia gave to Live Science, there aren’t enough studies proving that marijuana can actually relieve menstrual cramps, especially because the analgesic properties of cannabis heal “neuropathic pain,” that is, pain related to sensitive or damaged nerves. However, he also points out that the uterus has endocannabinoid receptors, which absorb the properties of this herb. Then, while it might not cure all period cramps, it could help those suffering from endometriosis, since the factor that makes this condition so painful is the growth of the endometrium outside the uterus, when it should grow inside it. But still, there isn’t enough evidence to prove this possible benefit.
I don’t want to be a party pooper, but I have to be honest. If you do your research on the benefits of weed during your period and take a look at websites selling marijuana products or encouraging the legalization of marijuana, they’ll tell you that it’s the greatest wonder of the world and we all should treat cramps with it. But the fact that there are only a few serious studies proving the benefits to a certain degree forces me to tell you, as one last piece of advice, to try these remedies with a little bit of healthy skepticism. Perhaps cannabis does make your period bearable, so if you try it and it does help, go for it! But if it doesn’t, don’t be discouraged. Instead, try to find with your doctor other ways to relieve the cramps, especially if you feel like none of the medicines that are commonly administered help you. Anyways, just don’t start selling it like the ultimate cure to all ailments in the world or condemning it when there’s no enough evidence to prove or debunk the benefits of cannabis during periods.
Here are other facts about cannabis you should check out:
Source: "Cannabis Treatments in Obstetrics and Gynecology: A Historical Review" by Ethan Russo.