Periods can be a royal pain. Cramps that make you feel like your uterus is being wrung out like a wet cloth? And of course, it's all even more amusing if you're at work or still awake at four in the morning the night before an important exam...
One in every three women suffers from so much pain during her period that she has to regularly take painkillers just to cope with daily life. In this article, we take a look at why this might not be a lasting solution and why CBD might give us hope for a natural remedy for period pain.
Why do we get period pain?
Over the course of the menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus builds up in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized egg cell. If this doesn't happen, then the body has to remove it. And prostaglandins, which are at their highest level at the beginning of your period, play a key role in this.
These hormones are primarily responsible for making your uterus contract and helping it shed its lining. So far, so good.
However, prostaglandins are also involved in causing inflammation at the same time. And, as is so often the case, the cure might in fact be worse than the disease – as the cramps that many of us know only too well may be partly caused by an excess of prostaglandins. Scientists had already discovered by the Seventies that the concentration of prostaglandins can be four times higher in women who suffer with period pain than those who have no symptoms.
So, why can't we just take pain-killers for period pain?Sounds easy enough. We just take enough painkillers until it doesn't hurt anymore. And of course, we'll do the same thing next time.
In fact, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used to relieve menstrual pain and the medical reasoning behind it is just as dubious. They do however inhibit certain enzymes called cyclooxygenases (COX), which are crucial for the production of – yes, you guessed it – prostaglandins.
There's no doubt about it, if you're reading this article, then ibuprofen, naproxen or any of the others have probably at some point almost literally saved your life. Even if it's tempting though, it's important that painkillers only be used in moderation.
In the long run, NSAIDs could have serious side-effects on the gastrointestinal tract or lead to cardiovascular problems. It's best therefore to consult a doctor before using them, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions or if you've been using them for a while.
Furthermore, for 1 in 10 women painkillers provide no relief whatsoever from period pain. They end up having to cope with the pain without any kind of medical intervention.
So, how might CBD help relieve period pain?
One study, which took a closer look at CBDa, the precursor to CBD, discovered that CBDa could also inhibit cyclooxygenases.
Or more simply, the precursor of CBD could inhibit the precursor of prostaglandin. Sounds good.
Unfortunately, research on the use of CBD to relieve period pain still needs to be conducted. But initial studies do suggest that CBD can help, in general, with pain relief. And what's more, CBD oil also has comparatively few known side-effects.
With many positive reports from women who use CBD oil during menstruation, it can only be hoped that science will soon be able to provide more information on this vital topic.
CBD for period pain
- One in three women regularly requires painkillers during her period.
- High levels of prostaglandin can cause menstrual pain.
- NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are often used to treat period pain.
- CBD could interrupt the production of prostaglandin and thus offer an alternative. There are however still no reliable research findings.
N.B.: This article deals with primary period pain, i.e. pain that is not the result of any particular condition. In the case of secondary menstrual pain that is caused by disease or other factors, the focus should be on treating the cause of the illness as well as alleviating any symptoms.
What should you be aware of when using CBD oil for period pain?
Even CBD isn't a miracle cure and you can't separate periods completely from the preceding menstrual cycle. In other words, if you're looking for an immediate effect, then CBD may not be the answer.
Painkillers are recommended at the first sign of menstrual pain or even before. And CBD oil can be used similarly – for example, during the entire second half of the cycle.
CBD for period pain: What's the right dosage?
Every woman and every cycle are different. So when working out the right dosage of CBD oil to relieve period pain, you should err on the side of caution and find out what works for you. You can also take a look at our guide to using CBD and dosing it correctly.
In addition to taking CBD oil, you might also find using a CBD massage oil just before and during your period helpful.
What's the best CBD oil for period pain?
Make sure that your CBD oil has been produced carefully and certified by an independent laboratory. As for the composition, the best oils contain a high concentration of terpenes. These are important for the so-called "entourage effect" and also then for the effectiveness of CBD.