Medical cannabis, currently legally prescribed in 30 states, has long been used to treat insomnia, anxiety, epilepsy, PTSD, tremors, and a plethora of pain disorders. Another common and little-known use of this wonder-drug is that of combating the symptoms of premenstrual symptom, or PMS.
PMS is a cluster of symptoms that include cramping, pain or discomfort in the back, joints, breasts and muscles, mood swings, water retention, increase in appetite, fatigue, irritability, and an inability to focus, among others. While these symptoms are not present in everyone, over 90% of menstruating women report one or more of the aforementioned symptoms.
Although information pertaining to the historical use of the plant for this affliction is scarce, cannabis was widely prescribed for menstrual cramps during the Victorian Era, with even Queen Victoria herself making use of nature’s most well-known remedy.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive constituent of cannabis, has well-documented analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. For those monstrous monthly cramps that plague so many of us each month, there is hope. Topical solutions and concentrates containing CBD are available if you do not wish for a psychoactive high. However, if you would like a touch of euphoria to brighten up your day, tinctures and concentrates are an option for those who do not wish to ingest the herb the traditional way.
Although the analgesic properties are reportedly stronger in THC-heavy strains versus CBD, high-CBD strains such as Ringo’s Gift or Cannatonic have been reportedly beneficial in the relief of monthly menstrual pain. This is thought to work by suppression of inflammation as well as relaxation of the muscles of the uterus.
Lavender is an excellent go-to strain for menstrual cramps; this indica is high (no pun intended) in sedative properties. It is also quite beautiful to look at it, but that is neither here nor there. Dynamite is an indica strain popular for its pain relieving qualities and citrusy taste. A High Times favorite, it is known for its ability to “melt the pain away”, as well as assist with nausea and insomnia that accompany many cases of Premenstrual Syndrome.
Headaches are another common symptom of PMS and can negatively impact every aspect of a person’s life, at times becoming so severe that the only option is to lie in a dark room, isolated from sound and other stimuli. Cannabis has a long history of alleviating headache pain, dating all the way back to the medical texts of ancient Assyria. Unfortunately, research into the effects of cannabis on headache pain halted with the spread of propaganda and the ensuing criminalization in the past century, but with more recent and progressive legislation, such as the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018, more data is sure to become available from the medical community in the days to come.
The mechanism by which ganja works on headaches is unknown, but the endocannabinoid system, a system of transmitters and receptors responsible for maintaining an environment of stability within the body, are thought to suppress activation of pain receptors, thereby reducing or eliminating pain altogether. It may also relieve headache pain by decreasing intracranial pressure; smoking is the most effective way to achieve this as this is the fastest method by which the effects of cannabis may take effect within the body.
In one Colorado pharmacological study regarding cannabis as a treatment for migraine headaches, the frequency of the migraines decreased by an average of over 50% with the use of medical cannabis over the course of 4 years. 103 of 121 patients reported a decrease in the pain caused by the migraines.
A study of 9 California clinics reported relief in up to 40% of patients using medical cannabis for headaches.
Purple Kush, a hybrid strain well known for producing a relaxing high, even numbing the pain entirely in some, has a stellar reputation for relieving the discomfort of migraines as well as even the most stubborn menstrual headaches. If you are looking for pain relief with minimal psychoactive effects, ACDC is a strain containing about 15% CBD with a negligible amount of THC.
ACDC’s medicinal properties extend beyond head pain, however. Mood swings, a symptom that anyone who is not an automaton has been familiar with at some point in their lives, can disrupt a person’s life as surely as the more “physical” symptoms, like cramping, fatigue, or joint pain, and can be just as hard, if not harder, to combat.
For this, there is hope in the form of strains such as Frank’s Gift. This sativa-dominant strain, a phenotype of Skunk Haze, is high in CBD and remains a trusted friend of countless medical marijuana patients. Aside from its beneficial effects on physical discomfort, if provides a mood boost which some describe as “euphoric”, quieting negative thoughts as it relaxes body and mind. The woody aroma can act as a calming incense, separating you from the irritability and agitation that rises to a crescendo during that time of the month. Cannatonic, Harlequin, and Blue Dream are other strains known to reduce stress, boost energy, and alleviate the depressive symptoms that precede and accompany the dreaded visit with Aunt Flo.
In conclusion, there is ample evidence that the inevitable cramping, headaches, mood swings, and fatigue that precede and accompany the Crimson Tide can be substantially reduced or altogether alleviated by one of humanity’s oldest herbal remedies. It is my hope that a clinical trial spanning the course of several thousand years might offer the wary and skeptical a measure of reassurance. Perhaps with this trusted panacea, what is often an unpleasant and even agonizing time can be made bearable. With careful and meticulous use, it might just be over before you know it! I think that it’s worth a try, don’t you?