does smoking weed help with period cramps

Here’s How To Use Marijuana To Cure Your Period Cramps

My periodВ lasts a hellish six days, withВ cramping on the first and last days. I’ve never experienced pain so bad I can’t walk,В but I feel decidedly gross throughout the week.

Lately, instead of popping Midol to deal with theВ pain, I’ve beenВ smoking weed for relief.

Marijuana takes my mind off the misery that is menstruation, helping me completely forget I have a wad of cotton shoved up my vagina. My stomach stops feelingВ achy and bloated, and instead I just get the munchies.В While recent studies show that marijuana can help relieve pain, there hasn’t been enough researchВ into the effects of smoking pot on your period for physicians to recommend itВ yet.

Unfortunately, I can’t claim to be the genius who came up with this brilliant alternative method to dealing withВ period struggles. Using cannabis to treat menstruation pains has been going on for centuries.

Swollen, painful breasts were a problem for women way back in the 11th century, too. For relief, they used a cannabis topical cream mixed with lamb fat. The mixture was said toВ “disperse the swelling.”

One of the earliest forms of period painВ relief for women came in a little bottle of dysmenine, a cannabis-based syrup. It was prescribed to women duringВ the 17th century, designed to treat everything from “nervous hysteria” to cramps.

Even Queen Victoria’s royal physician prescribed cannabis delivered by syringeВ to ease her royalВ menstrual strugglesВ back in the 19th century.

The days of dysmenine are long over, but we have modern options available for ladiesВ who want to trade Midol for marijuana. Today, innovative mindsВ have gotten creative with weed’s many menstrual uses.

If you ever thought aboutВ sticking a nug ofВ weed up your vagina instead of a tampon, that basically exists already.В ForiaВ vaginalВ suppositories are made of three ingredients: organic cocoa butter, CBD isolate and CO2 distilled THC oil.В The product, though not yet FDA approved, relaxes muscles andВ provides relief from cramps.

The suppositories come in a 4-pack that costs $44. Each suppository is considered as one dose. You can purchase them online, but you need to have a medical marijuana card and must join the brand’s medical marijuana collective.

The magic of Fiora is that you don’t experience a head high, but the THC is absorbed into the bloodstream directly. The high is noticeable but won’t interruptВ daily activities. You also have to freeze it for 15 minutes before inserting it so it doesn’t dissolve too quickly.

You won’t find any medieval lamb fat to rub on breasts, but there areВ cannabis-infused topical creams out there you can try. Again, there are a lack of studies on the effectiveness of these products, butВ cannabis has been proven to help with swelling.

Apothecanna has a $40В calming body cremeВ that helps ease tension and, aside from anti-inflammatory cannabis, boastsВ ingredients like lavender and chamomile. Anyone can buy lotions containingВ CBD, but products that contain THC must beВ purchasedВ from select storesВ in states where marijuana is legal.

These products are good alternatives for womenВ who want to explore cannabis as a remedy to period pain without actually lighting up. If smoking weed is no problem for you, however, there areВ different strains of weedВ to help with different menstrual symptoms.В However, the way it makes you feel variesВ for everyone. Some women have found that smoking weed regularly causes their periods to be irregular and shorter, while othersВ experienceВ increased blood flow.

A strain called Blue Dream, for example, isВ a favorite to help with moods, relaxation and handling cramps. It’sВ a strain hybrid, providing more of a pain-reducing body highВ andВ helping lift spirits. LeaflyВ makes it easy to research strains, their qualities and availability if you’re interested in conquering your period pain by lighting up.

While I appreciate В innovations in cannabis technology, I’m going to keep getting my pain relief the old-fashioned way, by smoking. I’m already using my period as an excuse to polish off a full-size bag of peanut M&Ms, why not blame it on the munchies, too?

My periodВ lasts a hellish six days, withВ cramping on the first and last days. I’ve never experienced pain so bad I can’t walk,В but I feel decidedly gross throughout the week. Lately, instead of popping Midol to deal with theВ pain, I’ve beenВ smoking…

Medical Marijuana: A Possible Treatment for Menstrual Cramps?

Andrea Chisolm, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN who has taught at both Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School.

Jessica Shepherd, MD, is a board-certified women’s health expert and nationally-recognized speaker addressing physical, sexual, and emotional health.

Medical marijuana has proven to have some significant medical benefits, most especially pain control. Although it isn’t strong enough to treat severe pain (such as bone fractures or post-surgical pain), it can be effective in relieving different types of chronic pain in many people.

Practitioners of alternative medicine will frequently include menstrual cramps as one of the conditions that medical marijuana can help treat. Insofar as it has been reported to help relieve symptoms of endometriosis and interstitial cystitis, it would seem reasonable to assume that marijuana can help treat the cyclical cramps and pelvic pain that can occur with menstruation.  

Mechanism of Action

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) contains more than 100 different compounds called cannabinoids, some of which have psychoactive properties. These compounds are easily absorbed when inhaled or eaten and can cross the blood-brain barrier to act directly on the brain.

The body is populated with a vast quantity of cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2, found mainly in the central nervous system but also in the lungs, liver, kidneys, and joints.   These are the same receptors that naturally-occurring compounds, called endocannabinoids, attach to.

Endocannabinoids, part of the body’s endocannabinoid system, are believed to play an important role in regulating pain and inflammation.   The ability of cannabinoids to attach to these receptors suggests that they may exert similar activity.

The two most recognized cannabinoids in marijuana are:

  • Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is primarily responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive “high”
  • Cannabidiol (CBD), which does not cause a “high”

While THC and CBD are thought to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, how they do so differs from other anti-inflammatory or analgesic agents.

What the Evidence Says

Not surprisingly, there is a lack of quality research regarding the benefits of medical marijuana in treating menstrual pain. Even so, cannabis has a long history of use in gynecology. Back in the late-19th century, Sir John Russell Reynolds, Queen Victoria’s personal physician, was said to prescribe hemp tincture to relieve the monarch’s painful menstrual cramps.  

How marijuana is meant to achieve the relief remains unclear. At its heart, menstrual cramps are triggered by the release of inflammatory compounds, called prostaglandins, during menstruation. Women who produce are excessive amounts of prostaglandins are more likely to experience severe cramps.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) commonly used to treat menstrual cramps—like Advil (ibuprofen) and Celebrex (celecoxib)—block the production of prostaglandins by binding to COX receptors in the brain and other tissues.  

By contrast, cannabinoids like THC and CBD exert no activity on COX receptors. and, therefore, have no influence on the production of prostaglandins. Rather, they stimulate the release of the “feel-good” hormone dopamine in the brain (where CB1 resides in high density) while reducing inflammation in the nerves and joints (where CB2 resides in high density).  

This suggests that THC and CBD are most beneficial in treating chronic neuropathic pain and inflammatory joint disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Even so, a 2018 review from the University of Alberta suggests that the benefits may be small.  

Because THC and CBD have no effect on prostaglandin production—the compound responsible for menstrual cramps—it is unclear how they are meant to relieve menstrual pain and inflammation.

With that said, it is possible that THC induces euphoria than can reduce the perception of pain. By contrast, CBD’s effect on menstrual cramps remains unknown and largely unsubstantiated.

Safety of Medical Marijuana

At this point, we don’t really know how safe medical marijuana use. Although many people presume it to be safe, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) warns that the long-term consequences of marijuana use are still unknown.

Moreover, CBD oils, extracts, and tinctures popularly sold as alternative therapies sometimes contain unknown ingredients, and it is often difficult to know if the doses list on the product label are accurate.  

Based on current advisement from the NIDA, medical marijuana in its inhaled form should not be used in people who:

  • Are under 25 years of age
  • Have a personal or strong family history of psychosis
  • Have a current or past cannabis use disorder
  • Have a current substance abuse disorder
  • Have heart or lung disease
  • Are pregnant or planning a pregnancy  

Because there is little evidence about the safety of marijuana in pregnancy, it is best to avoid the drug if you are of reproductive age or use a proven form of birth control.  

Though marijuana has not been shown to be cause birth defects, the presence of cannabinoid receptors in the fetal brain suggests that marijuana may impact a child’s cognitive and behavioral development in later years.  

There is also evidence that marijuana use during pregnancy may increase the risk of pregnancy loss due to the overstimulation of cannabinoid receptors in the lining of the uterus.  

A Word From Verywell

At present, there is no compelling evidence to support the use of medical marijuana in treating menstrual cramps. However robust the testimonials or anecdotal evidence may be, they lack any clear explanation of how the drug is meant to work. Do not be swayed by manufacturer claims that may or may not be true.

If you have severe, recurrent menstrual cramps that do not respond to conservative treatment, talks to your gynecologist about hormonal therapies or surgical options (like endometrial ablation or hysterectomy) that may help.

Heard the buzz about medical marijuana and menstrual cramps? Learn more about what we know and what we don't know about this controversial therapy.