If you’ve found yourself here, it’s probably because you’re seeking relief for what is arguably the worst recurring pain ever: period cramps. If you laughed at that, you’ve likely never experienced really bad, really awful, really terrible menstrual cramps. Yes, it’s absolutely normal to have mild to moderate cramping and discomfort with your period every month. But while you’re popping a Motrin so you don’t miss your 7 am spin class, sufferers of dysmenorrhea usually spend 2-5 days writhing in unbearable pain from uterine cramping, rarely leaving their bed until it’s over.
If you are unlucky enough to have this condition, it can be hard to feel normal when you spend a few days every 28 in the fetal position with no hope of pain relief. Whether you have dysmenorrhea or you experience occasional menstrual cycles so disruptive they keep you from living a normal, productive life: you deserve relief. But when over the counter drugs don’t work, what are your options? When oral contraceptives and pharmaceutical painkillers don’t work, what else is there? Recently, with the advent of legalizing medical marijuana and the ongoing efforts in research around the world, it has been found that cannabis may be just the ticket for treating severe menstrual cramps and symptoms courtesy of your Aunt Flo.
The breakdown: cannabis works directly with a system called the endocannabinoid system, which is made up of receptors that can be found throughout the body, in certain areas of the brain, and even on the surface of the skin. This system helps regulate things like hormones, pain sensation, mood, stress response, inflammation, appetite, and sleep cycles – all things that are related to your period.
When we introduce cannabis into our system by inhaling, ingesting, or using a topical cream, these receptors (called cannabinoid receptors) interact with the herb’s medicinal compounds and responds by delivering messages all throughout the body. Messages of relaxation, healing, and well-being. And it’s not all in your head, either: cannabis actually works as an anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant, pain reliever, and in many cases performs even better than over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications. Ready to try it? Here are 6 ways cannabis can help make your monthly cycle better.
CBD also acts as a vasodilator and vascular relaxant, allowing blood to flow freely throughout the body and decreasing the inflammation caused by muscle contractions and irritation. There are lots of powerful strains bred to have both CBD and THC, like ACDC (which won’t get you high at all) and Sweet and Sour Widow (which probably will). Don’t want to smoke or eat it? Many product lines now offer cannabis topicals: cannabis-infused creams or oils that can be rubbed right onto your abdomen so you can reap the serious muscle relaxing benefits without getting high at all.
Not only is this magical herb a proven painkiller, but it also has the ability to tackle neuropathic pain, outperform pharmaceutical opioids, and in many cases eliminate the need for over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and painkillers. When looking for a good medical cannabis strain for pain relief, try to find products that are high in CBD as well as THC, like Cannatonic or Pennywise.
Cannabis has been used successfully to treat anxiety, depression, and various mood disorders. Because high THC strains can actually cause paranoia (when taken in larger doses), it’s recommended to look for a product that has lower levels of THC. CBD dominant tinctures contain small amounts of THC (enough to do the trick) and can be dropped right under your tongue, where hundreds of tiny capillaries are waiting to deliver the hormone-balancing benefits straight to your bloodstream.
This method has been known to quell the spell in a matter of minutes. If you struggle most in the evening, look into Quasar, a popular strain for nausea that can also help provide a restful sleep. Need something to settle your stomach that won’t put you in a sleepy coma? Look into Rosetta Stone or Headbanger. If smoke is still too much for your gag reflexes, oral cannabis tinctures dropped under the tongue can also do the trick. They work quickly and have been found to perform better than placebos and other nausea remedies.
Many women struggle with insomnia or poor sleep patterns due to the change in hormone levels that happen before and during their cycle. A good night’s rest is important all the time, but especially during your period. Quality sleep can help you better manage the pain, stress, and mood swings that are often associated with difficult menstrual cycles.
If you do have difficulty sleeping, rest assured that there are dozens of options in the cannabis world that can help: edibles take up to 1-2 hours to kick in, but they are known for their long-lasting effects and might be a good option for you if you have a hard time staying asleep through the night. For an extra punch, get a quality dark chocolate edible for a little mood lift. If you prefer smoking or vaping, look into indica strains like Granddaddy Purple or Afghan Kush, both known to ease stress and help induce a deep, restful sleep.
Try a strain like Alaskan Ice in the morning to give you powerful pain relief while also keeping your head on straight so you can stay productive throughout the day. Durban Poison dubbed the “espresso of cannabis,” is also a great option for combating fatigue caused by your monthly cycle. Want a little extra? Cannabis tinctures infused with energy-boosting vitamins and natural caffeine may be all you need to get going on the hard days.
Remember that cannabis is a powerful medicine, but it’s not a golden ticket. If you really want to take control of your period pains, remember that taking care of yourself is number one priority. Diet and exercise are absolutely essential in maintaining hormonal balance and health.
To magnify the remarkable effects of cannabis, try pairing it with a hot bath, lying with a heating pad on your low back or abdomen, or even doing a little yoga. Always check with your doctor before starting any new treatment regimen, and make sure you are up to date on your local laws regarding marijuana use. You shouldn’t have to live with debilitating period pain, and compared to harmful and potentially dangerous conventional options, cannabis is definitely worth a try.
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