A Quick Summary: Using CBD for PMS
PMS has a wide range of symptoms and involves
the flux of two reproductive hormones: estrogen and progesterone. In truth, CBD
doesn’t appear to have many direct effects on these hormones despite the
intimate connection between the reproductive system and the endocannabinoid
system (more on this later).
that said, there are a few key areas where CBD may be able to help manage
CBD may relieve symptoms of anxiety CBD may support mood disorders like depression CBD has been shown to relieve pain CBD may relax muscle tension leading to cramping CBD supports sleep onset
Since these are symptoms associated with PMS,
CBD can be useful in treating some of the more disruptive effects.
Cannabidiol and PMS: What the
Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid extracted from
the cannabis (hemp) plant. It’s non-psychoactive, unlike the other main
cannabinoid — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBD exerts its effects indirectly. It targets a separate subsystem in the
body, which then goes on to produce the bulk of its pain-relieving, muscle
relaxing, and a host of other effects.
intermediary CBD uses to reach these other systems of the body is called the
endocannabinoid system (ECS) — which is a system of neurotransmitters that
regulate the function of everything from the reproductive cycle, to brain
cover some of the main ways CBD can support PMS symptoms.
1. Stress & Anxiety
is considered a non-allosteric modulator — which is a fancy term that suggests
it works by indirectly inhibiting certain activities in the brain. It uses the
endocannabinoid system as the intermediary to stop the brain cells from firing,
as opposed to allowing them to send signals.
While research on the endocannabinoid system is still being explored, this inhibitory behavior may explain why cannabidiol is known for being an anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsive, and anti-epileptic therapy [
2. Serotonin Levels
PMS is too complex of a topic for any one therapy to work as a cure-all,
cannabidiol may be a good alternative to treat some of the symptoms related to
serotonin levels are thought to be affected by the changes in hormone levels during the luteal phase , cannabidiol’s interaction with serotonergic receptors may help relieve some of the symptoms arising from low serotonin levels . Specifically, depression and anxiety are two negative emotional side effects that may benefit from taking cannabidiol. 3. Pain Transmission
Cannabidiol has also been shown to relieve pain by blocking the signaling pathway for pain .
While the current research mainly focuses on cancer pain management and bone or joint problems (osteoarthritis), it isn’t too far of a stretch to think that cannabidiol may help relieve the muscle aches that happen as a result of PMS as well .
The endocannabinoid system regulates both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Since pain is transmitted via these nerves, ingesting cannabidiol has been shown in rats to help with reducing pain and inflammation .
Unfortunately, a review of clinical experiments in people shows conflicting results .
associated with premenstrual syndrome might also respond to cannabidiol.
However, inflammation is a complex immunological process involving many chemical cascades, feedback loops, and various cells from both the innate and the adaptive immune systems.
More research, specifically double-blind studies involving larger sample groups, need to be conducted to see if the cause of inflammation during PMS corresponds with the anti-inflammatory actions of cannabidiol [9, 10].
5. Muscle Cramping
Most of the research on CBD and muscle has to do with treating
spasticity in those with multiple sclerosis. Going back to the fact that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system and muscles are controlled by nerves, it is a logical step to think that CBD could have an effect on reducing muscle spasms .
Since the uterus cramps and spasms before and
during menstruation, CBD, could in theory, affect and reduce cramping.
What Causes PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome happens before the
menstrual phase (hence the name). If you’re not familiar with the phases of the
menstrual cycle, don’t worry, we’ll cover it in greater detail below.
PMS symptoms usually begin to develop after
ovulation, within a week or so before menstruation.
Scientists aren’t able to say exactly why the change in hormones causes both the
psychological and physical symptoms, but the theory is that it has something to do with the link between estrogen and serotonin production in the brain .
The entire menstrual cycle is a rollercoaster
of hormones, each one taking their turn to rise up before crashing back down
again. All of this is a well-choreographed dance designed to prepare the body
for falling pregnant.
How Hormone Changes May Lead to
Progesterone and estrogen rise and then drop quickly after ovulation During this rise is when you start to feel physical symptoms such as breast tenderness. You can think of this as the body getting ready for pregnancy Because estrogen is tied to serotonin, the drop in estrogen causes a drop in serotonin as well Drops in serotonin (the neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy) can then cause the psychological symptoms
The 3 Stages of the Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle can be broken down into 3
phases: follicular, luteal, and menses.
1. Follicular Phase
Eggs develop in little nests in the ovaries called follicles. During the follicular phase, the follicle that will eventually release a mature egg produces the hormone estrogen. This follicle is stimulated by a pituitary hormone called the
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) .
FSH also stimulates the production of yet
another pituitary gland hormone called Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which causes
the egg to go through meiosis (cell division).
As estrogen levels rise with the growing
follicle, the uterus lining thickens with tissue and blood vessels to get ready
for implantation of a fertilized egg and pregnancy. Once the egg is mature,
there is a spike in LH and the egg is released from the follicle — this marks
the point of ovulation. The body is now ready to conceive a baby.
Estrogen, LH, and FSH levels begin to drop
while progesterone starts to rise as it’s released from the same follicle that
released the egg previously.
2. Luteal Phase
After ovulation is achieved during the follicular phase, we enter the luteal phase .
Here, estrogen rises again with progesterone
and the uterus lining continues to grow. From the ovary, the egg will travel to
the uterus via the fallopian tubes.
If fertilization were to occur, it would
happen during this period of 3-4 days.
If no fertilization occurs, there’s no need to
continue to support the highly vascularized and dense tissue of the uterus
(using up a lot of the body’s resources). The corpus luteum dies and both
estrogen and progesterone levels drop once again.
3. Menses or Menstruation
Menstruation is the process through which the cells lining the uterus go through programmed cell death (apoptosis) and shed .
Blood and tissue are expelled from the vagina
and women may suffer from cramping which is the contraction of the uterine
muscles to help shed the lining.
Signs & Symptoms of PMS
Because there are four different hormones at
play here, PMS can present itself in various ways. Not all women get all the
symptoms and not every symptom occurs every month. Jet lag, sleep, alcohol and
smoking, and stress can all affect PMS.
Psychological Symptoms of PMS
emotional changes that happen post-ovulation, during the luteal phase, may
include the following:
Depression Tension Anxiety Irritability Fatigue Emotional sensitivity Physical Symptoms of PMS
Along with the changes in mood, physical symptoms will also occur.
physical symptoms include:
Breast tenderness Abdominal bloating Muscle and joint pain Headaches Inflammation  Cramping Current Treatment Options for PMS
There are many ways to treat mild to severe
PMS, including drugs, hormone therapy, acupuncture, hot packs, supplements, and
The scientific evidence behind things like acupuncture is limited and most of the advice appears to be anecdotal . Even exercise, a commonly suggested way to relieve PMS symptoms, showed inconsistent results when tested. Some groups responded while others showed no significant reduction in discomfort .
Hormonal options involve taking estradiol and/or progesterone pills in order to better regulate the fluctuations of these hormones in the luteal phase. Some studies have shown that this method is effective, while others showed no difference in alleviating the symptoms of PMS [19, 20].
What Else Can I Do To Relieve PMS
Aside from taking CBD, making sure to keep
your serotonin levels at a normal level can help relieve PMS symptoms. Things
like exercise, sleeping well, keeping stress levels low, and eating dark
chocolate are all ways to make sure your serotonin level doesn’t dip too low.
Key Takeaways: CBD & PMS
the research on the use of cannabidiol on PMS symptoms still requires further
exploration, the hope is that this article gave you a bit more insight into the
causes of PMS and how CBD can be used to reduce PMS symptoms.
know that CBD doesn’t directly treat PMS in its entirety. However, certain symptoms
such as cramps, anxiety, and pain can somewhat be lessened by taking CBD.
other conditions, PMS symptoms and the severity of them vary month to month
depending on the level of stress and other uncontrollable life issues that may
arise unexpectedly. So, while it’s impossible to fully eliminate PMS due to its
close ties with fluctuating reproductive hormones, it is possible to target
particular symptoms on a case by case basis.
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