For many women, menstrual cycles go hand in hand with a range of undesirable symptoms: cramps, bloating, moodiness, cravings, insomnia, and tiredness, among others. Fluctuating hormones are a natural part of the menstrual cycle, but they can affect your body and your quality of life. So can CBD help with your menstrual health?
Cannabidiol (CBD), one of over 100 compounds found in the cannabis plant, has been reported to reduce feelings of pain. When used topically or ingested, CBD acts as an alternative for people who rely on – or would like to avoid – pharmaceuticals to treat chronic pain.
CBD and hormones
CBD supports the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which contributes to the regulation of sleep, mood, metabolism, and reproduction and fertility, among other functions in your body. It also influences the production of hormones by the endocrine system.
Hormones drive the menstrual cycle, preparing a woman’s body for a possible pregnancy. The two most important ones are progesterone and estrogen. Their levels naturally vary depending on the time of your cycle, and this fluctuation can cause mood changes, low energy levels, cramps, and other symptoms. These are particularly noticeable during ovulation and one or two weeks before menstruation, when most women experience PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome.
By supporting the ECS, CBD contributes to homeostasis, the internal balance of your body, which ensures that all its processes are running smoothly. Research shows that CBD can help with some of the symptoms that many women feel during their menstrual cycle.
Can CBD help with PMS?
Even though there’s very little research on the benefits of CBD specifically for women’s health, we know that many of its properties may help with some of the common symptoms of PMS, such as
- Breast pain or tenderness
- Trouble sleeping
Since CBD reduces inflammation and relieves pain, it can be helpful with cramps, bloating, and breast tenderness. CBD can also help alleviate anxiety and irritability. Because of its calming effect, it can also promote better sleep.
CBD during ovulation
During ovulation – typically, the mid-point in the cycle – some women experience increasing anxiety levels, due to higher levels of estrogen, which can heighten your emotions. Taking CBD might be helpful if you experience irritability, restlessness, or worry, as it contributes to relaxation and promotes better sleep.
How to take CBD for menstrual health
- Ingesting CBD, whether in the form of oil, tincture, or capsules, will support your body in many ways – not just your menstrual health –, as it will target your entire endocannabinoid system and contribute to homeostasis, your body’s internal balance.
- If you’re struggling with menstrual cramps, you can try applying CBD topically over the lower abdomen to stimulate the uterine muscles. An added warm compress or a hot bottle water will also help.
- A CBD-infused tampon may help reduce menstrual cramping, since receptors of our endocannabinoid system are found throughout the entire body. However, CBD could alter the pH of the vagina, and this could increase your risk for infection.
If you haven’t tried CBD before, it’s recommended to start low and go slow until you achieve the desired results. You may increase in small increments every 3-5 days, but remember that higher doses may not be beneficial. Keeping a CBD diary to record how your body reacts to each dosage can be useful too.
If you’re breastfeeding, pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, do not take CBD without speaking to your physician.
Other supplements for menstrual health
To support your body throughout your menstrual cycle, you could consider taking other supplements alongside CBD:
- Vitamin B6 (found naturally in beans, pulses, and nuts) can support anxiety-related PMS. Original data for B6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2558186/
- Zinc (found naturally in whole grains, poultry, seafood and nuts) can help prevent cramps.
- Magnesium (found naturally in nuts, wholegrains, green vegetables and dark chocolate) can help alleviate PMS, especially when taken with Vitamin B6.
Please note that the FDA has not approved the use of over-the-counter vitamins or supplements. Choose products from reputable companies that are USP certified ensuring the quality of the product and that it lacks harmful contaminants.
The Bottom Line
Taking CBD may help with many of the symptoms that many women experience during their menstrual cycle, such as cramping, bloating, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Oils, tinctures, and capsules will target any issues internally, but applying it topically on the lower abdomen may help with cramping.
The quality of CBD products is not regulated, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any over-the-counter CBD products. Be sure to check the label to confirm the product has received third-party testing for quality. CBD supplements can interact with other medications, so it is important to talk with your doctor before beginning the regular use of any CBD products.
- The effects of cannabinoids on the endocrine system. NCBI, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30618031
- Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. NCBI, 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/
- Cannabinoids as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. NCBI, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
- Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. NCBI, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/
- Endocannabinoids and the control of energy homeostasis. NCBI, 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2586261/