Updated: Aug 11, 2021
It is estimated that about 75% of women suffer from Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, or PMS, during their childbearing years. It seems that most women assume this is normal so they often don't discuss it with their provider during their annual visits or seek relief until things get really bad. What I tell my patients is that PMS is common, that doesn't mean it is normal.
PMS is common, that doesn't mean it is normal.
There is a difference.
The severity of symptoms vary vastly from woman to woman and you may not have PMS with every cycle. (Diet and lifestyle play a huge role in your cycle so it is normal to have variations of PMS).
What does PMS feel like?
PMS includes both physical and psychological symptoms found below
Abdominal bloating, pain
Water retention → mild weight gain
Constipation followed by diarrhea at beginning of menses
Pelvic pain and cramping
Edema of extremities
Changes in libido
Confusion, decreased mental acuity
Feelings of low self-esteem, poor self-image
How can Cannabis help?
I am glad you asked! The endocannabinoid system regulates much of your reproductive system. Cannabis can help with PMS in a few ways. Both on an endocannabinoid systemic level which can lesson the severity of symptoms; and at the source of pain, relaxing the uterus, lessoning the cramping, i.e. lessoning the pain.
The endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) a neurotransmitter and cannabinoid-receptor binding agent that functions as a signal messenger for CB receptors located in the body, fluctuates throughout the menstrual cycle, peaking at ovulation and then dropping off right before your monthly visitor makes her arrival. The uterus contains more AEA, when at peak concentration, than any other organ in the body. Could it be that the uterus is largely effected by the fluctuation, causing more cramping, inflammation, and irritability? It appears this is one theory which does make sense to me so I'll go with it! Supplementing AEA with cannabis, may then limit the fluctuation and drop in AEA, easing the discomforts of PMS due to maintaining more balanced levels throughout the month. Our bodies love balance.
Cannabis wins regarding PMS symptom relief. Every symptom listed above can be relieved or improved with cannabis. Did you know even Queen Victoria herself used cannabis for menstrual cramps!? Utilizing CBD, THC, and CBN is encouraged as you find what works best for you. Layering methods of ingestion is helpful as well. Smoking and vaping provide immediate relief, where a tincture carries a few hours, and an edible often carries into a deeper and longer relaxation. Topicals can provide aching muscle and joint relief, and transdermal patches provide a steady release of cannabis into the system over time, providing longer relief.
If you have severe cramping, you may want to try a high THC edible and a nap the day cramping starts. Follow this with higher CBD strain flower. CBD decreases inflammation. 1:1 CBD : THC tinctures, edibles, and patches are also great options. Again, edibles are typically better at night or when you want more of a body high or relaxation. Vaginal suppositories are another great way to relieve pelvic pain.
You will likely find that you need different strains at different times of the day depending on symptoms. Regardless, I encourage high dose CBD or even better, a good 2:1 tincture or troche daily, especially during your cycle. This will aid in mood stability, decrease inflammation, reduce swelling and water retention, and lesson anxiety and depression. CBD counteracts, or cancels, the psychoactive effects of THC. So having a 2:1 or 1:1 allows you to have the benefits of both, without having the high feeling. I also highly recommend keeping a journal as you try new strains, growers, or versions of cannabis so that you better know what works well and what doesn't work well for you.
Adding cannabis into your daily routine offers many benefits both physically and mentally but don't underestimate the importance of a healthy diet, meaning less processed packaged foods and artificial sweeteners or flavors, and more whole foods that don't come in a box. Remember everything in moderation. But seriously, when it comes to hormones and the lady parts, diet matters. Meaning what you eat, not what you weigh. More on that in posts to come! For now, toke up, have an edible, or soak with a nice cannabis bath bomb and take a load off.
(shit do all 3!)
Sending all the good vibes your way!