weed for cramps

Can weed relieve menstrual pain?

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Top things to know:

Cannabis is believed to have therapeutic uses for illnesses and pains, including menstrual discomfort

Researches are still scarce, but some studies already show effectiveness of cannabis on the relief of menstrual pain

Worldwide, there has been a noticeable trend in favor of legalising cannabis for medical and recreational use

If you’ve ever visited a healthcare provider for painful periods or cramps, you may have been recommended anti-inflammatory pain medicines or hormonal birth control (D). However, people with menstrual pain often look for other alternatives to painkillers and birth control (B).В

Medicinal plants have been used by many cultures for thousands of years for the treatment and prevention of diseases and their symptoms (A). Cannabis is one such plant that may relieve or lessen menstrual pain (12). Menstrual pain is common—about half of people who menstruate have some pain for one to two days each cycle (C).

The use of cannabis (also called weed and marijuana, among other names) for the treatment of pain has been identified in various places around the world pre-Christianity. It’s believed that medicinal cannabis was introduced to European medicine when physicians first observed the use of the substance in India. The introduction of cannabis in the Americas may have occurred when African slaves who were taken to Brazil brought the plant with them (2).В

What does research say about weed and the menstrual cycle?

Cannabis is believed to have therapeutic uses for a variety of illnesses, including but not limited to chronic pain, headache, epilepsy, symptoms of multiple sclerosis and gastrointestinal disorders (E).В

The science around cannabis and its ability to relieve menstrual pain is scarce, and more research is needed. In 2015, researchers from the University of British Columbia, asked a sample of 192 women if they had used cannabis to relieve menstrual pain. Marijuana is available for purchase from dispensaries in Vancouver.В

Of all the women surveyed, 85 percent said they had used cannabis for menstrual pain and almost 90 percent of these women said it was effective at relieving the pain (12).В

These participants said that the most common ways they consumed cannabis were smoking and eating. Other research indicates that using it might have side effects on the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.В

A study of 47 women between 17 and 29 years old who habitually consumed cannabis for at least one year found alterations in progesterone, prolactin and testosterone.В

Compared to women who didn’t use cannabis, these women had more frequent menstrual variations, including shorter cycle length and heavy periods (16). This study didn’t look specifically at period pain, but the results might have indications for period pain since frequency and intensity of bleeding can impact pain.

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A global panorama of cannabis use

Worldwide, there has been a noticeable trend in favor of legalising cannabis for medical use. But before digging into the details of current legislation in some Western countries, it’s important to clarify the uses of this substance and understand the arguments that usually accompany its prohibition.В

Uses of cannabis

There are several possible types of cannabis usage:

Medical purposes: usage eases symptoms of diseases or assists in treating an existing diagnosis.

Scientific purposes: usage as a tool to investigate the substance’s roles in people’s health or diseases (3).

Recreational purposes: usage for pleasure.В

The status of cannabis around the world

For governments around the world, the more well-known reasons for prohibiting the use of cannabis are:

The psychotropic aspect of cannabis, meaning the alteration of the central nervous system.

The addictive aspect , or the difficulty in controlling its consumption.

The prohibition, in addition to criminalising the consumption of cannabis, imposes several inhibitors to conducting scientific research (3).В В

Countries like Canada, United States and the Netherlands are remarkable for having opener politics around cannabis. When it comes to Canada, since the 17th of October, 2018, it has allowed the recreational and medicinal use (5). In the United States, more than 20 states allow its medicinal use, and in the Netherlands since 2001 the medicinal and research uses have been allowed, and under strict control the purchase and consumption of soft drugs have been allowed (3).

As cannabis becomes more popular and mainstream, novel ways of using it for sexual and reproductive health are emerging. Vaginal suppositories and bath salts with THC are being marketed to people with periods as a solution for cramps (15). There’s even arousal lube with THC marketed to intensify sexual pleasure (15).

This diversity of approaches for the consumption and use of cannabis might help increase its popularity. Ideally, as more people use cannabis for period pain, researchers will produce more science about the risks and benefits, in hopes that we learn all the effects of cannabis for women and people with cycles.

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Ideally, as more people use marijuana for period pain, researchers will produce more science about the risks and benefits.

How Cannabis Could Help Manage Period Pain And Menstrual Cramps

Many menstruating women experience painful cramping and other symptoms before and during their period. Does cannabis have the ability to help ease these symptoms?

For many women, period pain and menstrual cramps are an all-too-common, yet extremely natural, occurrence. When it comes to soothing symptoms, there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications available. However, some of these come with their own side effects, and not all of them are effective for each individual. Therefore, some women turn to cannabis in an effort to manage their symptoms. Is there any scientific backing behind this?


Some medical experts are still hesitant to consider cannabis for treating common women’s health problems such as period pain and cramps, which is astonishing seeing that the plant has a long history of being used exactly for this purpose. It goes back centuries, as demonstrated by the findings of board-certified neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher, and Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI) Ethan Russo, MD. He points out that the use of cannabis for women’s health dates back to at least 16th century China. Back then, cannabis was commonly given as a medicine for menstrual cramps and related pain.

Some time later, in the 19th century, cannabis was again frequently prescribed for period pain and cramping. This time, however, it was in England where Queen Victoria was given cannabis as the go-to medicine for menstrual cramps by her royal physician. Yet, there is no mention of marijuana for treating these common ailments in medical literature.


In the introduction to his book _Women and Cannabis: Medicine, Science, and Sociology (Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics)_, Dr. Ethan Russo states, “As will be discussed, its [cannabis’] role as an herbal remedy in obstetric and gynecological conditions is ancient, but will surprise most by its breadth and prevalence”.

While this does little to draw any concrete links between cannabis and menstrual pain relief, it shows that the history of this pairing goes back far and wide. After all, centuries of cannabis use by women can’t be by accident.

Everyone from Queen Victoria to the modern stoner has tried using a cannabis preparation to reduce period cramps, although there is a frustrating lack of data on the efficacy of THC and/or CBD for this purpose. However, what is known is that topical cannabis, like creams, gels, etc., do not reach the bloodstream, instead providing local relief. This means that, even when applying a THC-rich topical to the skin, you will not get high. This makes topical cannabis preparations a more viable option for many women looking to ease cramping or period pain.

There’s also the option to take cannabis orally or via inhalation. Then again, consumed this way, the THC would cause a high, which isn’t always desired by those looking to utilise cannabis throughout the day.

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Microdosing cannabis is another option. This way, patients can get minimal yet medicinal doses of cannabinoids in their system, evenly spread out over the day. This can minimise unwanted effects that would otherwise occur when taking larger doses.


Most of the time, women not only experience cramping during their period, but a whole host of other uncomfortable symptoms in the days leading up to it. This common condition, known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), can manifest in tender breasts, bloating and upset stomach, headache, lower sex drive, as well as mood swings and other symptoms. For this reason, PMS doesn’t so much describe a single condition as it does a range of different symptoms.

Of course, not all women experience the same PMS symptoms, and they can vary in severity based on genetic factors and environmental factors like stress. Here too there is a strong case for cannabis easing many of these symptoms in the same way it does cramping and pain during menstruation.


Headaches and migraines are also common symptoms that can manifest during or before menstruation. A 2016 study [1] published in the journal of _Pharmacotherapy_ found cannabis to help reduce monthly migraines.

Researchers examined a group of 121 adults who suffered from migraines, finding that cannabis greatly helped reduce the monthly migraine attacks from 10.4 to 4.6. Although the study didn’t look into migraines associated with PMS, the drastic reduction of symptoms found in their study is still noteworthy.

Regarding headaches and migraines, it may be advantageous to consider microdosing, as high-THC cannabis is not a viable option for most people to dose throughout the day. Using a low concentration of THC and higher levels of CBD will help to limit psychotropic effects.


The monthly hormonal changes in a woman’s body can also cause mood swings. These mood swings may occur in the days leading up to the period, a time known as the luteal phase. Unfortunately, common medical practice is for doctors to simply prescribe antidepressants, many of which have a long list of potential side effects.

Aside from using cannabis to benefit the body, anecdotal accounts show that people also take it to ease emotional stress, depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Now, it isn’t a secret that some people enjoy THC-rich cannabis simply for recreational purposes, say when they want to relax; but THC isn’t fully responsible for all of cannabis’ effects.

A 2015 study [2] published in Neurotherapeutics suggests that “CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders”, including, but not limited to, general anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, and PTSD. Moreover, researchers suggest that CBD likely exerts its effects via multiple physiological pathways, such as the endocannabinoid system, the serotonergic system, and more.

CBD also acts as an anandamide reuptake inhibitor [3] , essentially inhibiting the endocannabinoid’s degradation in the body. One study found this to result in increased serum anandamide levels [4] , leading researchers to associate this with “improvement of clinical symptoms” related to schizophrenia. Why is this important? Anandamide is often referred to as the “bliss molecule” due to its function as a “feel-good” neurotransmitter. It also influences processes related to memory, immunity, eating, fertility, and more.

Here too, it’s unclear exactly how and to what extent cannabis can provide relief, but it does demonstrate that the various cannabinoids in cannabis produce different effects, which makes cannabis quite a versatile plant for scientific inquisition. For the average person looking to relieve period pain and cramps, if you’re already using cannabis as a way to relax your body and mind, feel free to experiment with using weed for period pain. Record your findings and keep track of which strains you use, and which cannabinoids these strains contain.


Cannabis as an effective and safe alternative for treating many health conditions is a big topic at present. Rarely does a month go by without the release of some genuinely groundbreaking or progressive research on the subject. With cannabis laws steadily becoming more lax in more countries, cannabis has now finally entered the mainstream consciousness, and is also spurring interest in the scientific and medical communities.

As one result, places like New Jersey in the US are now considering adding menstrual cramps to the list of approved medical conditions treatable with cannabis. This is noteworthy because New Jersey’s cannabis laws are otherwise quite strict. Former New Jersey politician Tim Eustace, who served in the New Jersey General Assembly until last year, has introduced new legislation that will allow the use of medicinal cannabis for these purposes.

Word of the effectiveness of cannabis, especially for women’s health, is also being spread with the help of popular celebrities. Famous comedian Whoopi Goldberg has partnered with edibles creator Maya Elisabeth to create a line of cannabis-infused products targeted to women looking to relieve period pain and cramps. Like so many women, Goldberg wondered why cannabis wasn’t widely marketed to alleviate cramps, especially with all the preliminary evidence. She got the astonishing answer that this would be a “very niche” product for the industry. So, with her new brand of cannabis products designed especially for women, she’s now targeting that “niche”, which after all “is made up of half the population”, as Goldberg points out.

With increased public awareness surrounding the rediscovered use of cannabis for women’s health, and the recent promising research, the future of cannabis as a medicine for treating period pain does indeed look good. It may well be that cannabis once again becomes the favourite “women’s medicine” it was lauded as for hundreds of years.

In previous times, cannabis was a popular medicine to treat period pain. Today, the herb is being rediscovered as an effective