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Can CBD oil help with PMS?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is turning heads in the natural health and wellness sphere owing to the growing list of health benefits, including relief from PMS. It’s an active compound found in cannabis, but don’t let the association with weed fool you. You won’t get the mind-altering high because it contains little to none of the main psychoactive component, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). Instead, the oil, which is extracted from the cannabis plant and mixed with carrier oils like almond or coconut, has been shown to help with pain relief, in early stages of research.

How CBD helps with PMS

As a result, many women are turning to it specifically for help with PMS symptoms, including mood swings. “When I first started using CBD, it was game changer,” says New York executive Karla Vitrone. “It works really well when you’re ovulating and feel a bit more anxiety. I found that it helped me totally switch off and transition to night. It makes you feel totally relaxed and has none of the side effects of marijuana, which was my biggest fear as I have a small child and I didn’t want to feel ‘high’ or have negative side effects. It’s really subtle.”

Ana Reyes, a designer who works for the US-based CBD company Wildflower, agrees. “For PMS (and occasional generalised anxiety), I find CBD makes me feel more calm, with fewer headaches and anxious thoughts, a big decrease in mood swings and a general feeling of well-being. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory so it’s helpful with cramps as well.”

Science backs both women up – while not specifically testing for PMS, there have been studies that show CBD has had positive results with those suffering from depression and anxiety.

What’s more, it can be helpful treating cramps, too, according to Dr Julie Holland, whose background is in psychopharmacology and is the author of The Pot Book , a non-profit project that helps to fund therapeutic cannabis research. “CBD can be immensely useful in treating the irritability and discomfort that comes during the premenstrual phase of our cycles. Because it has strong anti-anxiety properties and is also a muscle relaxer, it can help with the overall tension, both physical and psychic, as well as menstrual cramps that can come later,” she says.

And those irritating hormonal spots? CBD can offer hope: its proven anti-inflammatory properties have been found to calm down breakouts and reduce sebum production.

The science behind CBD

So how does it work? The body has its own endocannabinoid system (ECS) and internal cannabis receptors (the body’s internal cannabinoid system was named after the plant, which led to the discovery in the 1980s). There are cannabinoid receptors throughout the body – from the brain and central nervous system to the gut, connective tissues and nerves – and they work with the endocannabinoid system as a homeostatic regulator, meaning that the body is trying to maintain a state of balance in all its cells. In an indication of how that should actually feel, scientists named one of the key endocannabinoids ‘anandamide’ – sanskrit for bliss.

How does CBD oil fit in to this? Well, interestingly, researchers have found that taking CBD oil promotes the body’s own internal cannabinoids to function more effectively – helping to reduce stress and inflammation within its own cells.

And whilst further research is needed into applications for women’s health specifically (isn’t it always), scientists have found that those who suffer from endometriosis also have low levels of cannabinoid receptors, leading experts to suggest that CBD oil could offer relief from the condition.

Things to look out for

All this comes with a note of caution that as yet the research into CBD is not complete; while there have been lots of anecdotal evidence around the use of CBD for PMS symptoms, and some preliminary research into pain relief, Dr Holland points out there there have not yet been double-blind, placebo-controlled studies into the topic, and it’s important to check with your doctor, qualified nutritionist or herbal medicine practitioner first that CBD is right for you.

And when it comes to choosing brands, Andy Sun from Wildflower (which is currently only available in the US) cautions, “there are many new CBD companies so it’s important to do your research.

“It is always a good sign when the company takes the time to source Non-GMO hemp that is naturally grown, without the use of fertilizers or pesticides. It is also important to seek out CBD products made with full-spectrum (or whole-plant/CBD-rich) extracts. Studies suggest that full-spectrum CBD is much more effective than CBD isolate. Finally, in order to guarantee the quality and consistency of the product, companies that use third-party labs to test their products will be able to ensure that consumers get the purest CBD.”

Where to buy

The US is way ahead of the UK in terms of stockists – “It’s super common in NYC, and is very normal to see listed in ingredients in smoothies,” Karla says. But from the start of the year Holland & Barrett became the first high street store to stock medical cannabis oil in the UK, and a new CBD-dedicated boutique has recently opened in Camden, London, while Moody stocks Nature’s Plus phytocannabinoid .

The final word

The current research, while not explicitly focused on PMS, certainly seems to suggest that if you’re looking for something natural and effective for your PMS-busting toolkit, it’s worth a shot. “It’s an exciting time for CBD oil,” Andy says. “Every day, there are more studies about the potential medical and daily wellness applications for CBD (and cannabis in general), whether to treat particular medical conditions or to help improve your emotional, physical, and mental health. Of course, these new studies are often confirming the anecdotal, lived experiences of many cannabis-smart consumers.

Everyday is a new day for our bodies and minds, check in with yourself daily using Moody Month and find the motivation to give your body what it needs.

Treating PMS with CBD

Home / Blog / Treating PMS with CBD

Treating PMS with CBD

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 09/25/2019 in CBD Resources

Updated on January 21, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects as many as 3 in 4 menstruating people, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms range from mood swings, irritability, and depression to headaches, acne flares, and joint and muscle pain. While most people have relatively mild symptoms, when PMS disrupts a person’s life to the point of being disabling, it is classified as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Lifestyle changes like eating a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction are front-line defenses for many people who experience PMS. For physical symptoms of PMS, such as headaches or muscle pain, over-the-counter NSAIDS like ibuprofen or naproxen are often recommended. Anti-depressants are sometimes recommended for the emotional symptoms of PMS, while hormonal contraceptives may be useful for both the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS. But if these options aren’t available to you, or you’re looking for alternatives, you may have heard that CBD can help with PMS. Here’s what you should know.

CBD versus THC

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of marijuana’s two main active ingredients, along with THC. While THC is associated with the high of marijuana, CBD doesn’t cause the same euphoria, and there is growing evidence to suggest that it has medicinal properties. CBD can be taken in combination with THC or on its own. While the World Health Organization says that “in humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential,” CBD derived from marijuana is still federally illegal. Learn more about CBD here.

Can CBD help treat PMS?

While many people have spoken anecdotally about their experience with CBD reducing PMS symptoms, researchers haven’t yet been able to establish a clear link, and it may be more effective for some symptoms — like pain or anxiety — than others. Perhaps the best way to discuss the research that does exist for the benefits of CBD on PMS is to break it down by symptoms.

CBD for pain

According to Harvard Medical School, treating pain is the most common use for medical marijuana in the United States. A 2017 study in Frontiers of Pharmacology found that CBD seemed to change the way rats reacted to pain from an incision. Meanwhile, a research review suggested that treatments combining THC and CBD (namely, a drug called Sativex) were effective in treating some types of chronic pain in humans. There’s even less evidence on CBD for headaches and migraines. However, a doctor for the American Migraine Foundation (AMF), Dr. Stephen Silberstein, says that it’s worth a shot for headache patients to try CBD while research is catching up. ““If you have a lot of neck pain or soreness, it is perfectly reasonable to use CBD oil. It may even prevent nausea and vomiting,” he told the AMF. So, while cannabis can be considered CBD a possibility for PMS-related pain, research hasn’t established it as an effective treatment.

CBD for mood swings

It depends on how your moods tend to swing. A 2015 research review published in Neurotherapeutics suggested that CBD oil could be a useful tool for anxiety management, particularly in one-off doses (rather than ingesting it on a regular basis). But a 2014 research review published in CNS and Nuerological Disorders found the opposite for CBD and depression. CBD did not seem to be useful as an anti-depressant, though human studies are still needed in order to confirm these findings. So CBD seems to be a more plausible treatment for anxiety during PMS than it would be for low mood.

CBD for insomnia

More research is needed on the role of CBD in improving sleep, but it may be beneficial for temporarily improving sleep during PMS. A 2017 research review in Current Psychiatry Reports suggests that CBD may be helpful to people suffering from insomnia. More specifically, in 2019 the Permanante Journal published a study in which 47 adults suffering from anxiety and 25 adults struggling with poor sleep received CBD capsules. Two-thirds of the study participants saw their sleep scores improve in the first month, though the improvements in sleep weren’t sustained over all three months of the study.

CBD for acne

CBD skincare treatments are growing in popularity right now, and some claim to reduce acne flares. But is that true? It certainly could be. In 2014, The Journal of Clinical Investigation found that CBD seemed to have key anti-acne properites, including limiting oil production and providing an anti-inflammatory effect on oil glands. The authors recommended further studies of CBD, in both topical and ingested form, for treating acne.

If options aren’t available to you, or you’re looking for alternatives, you may have heard that CBD can help with PMS. Here’s what you should know.