Yoga, pills, coffee, cannabis – How do you cope with menstrual pain? We at GiveHer5 did a bit of research on alternate methods and the effect cannabis can have on pain.
Menstrual health has for so long, been allowed to be a mystery. In the past, it was ingrained in us to think before opening our mouth about such a private matter. Women have silently tolerated pain with no clue as to what the normal threshold should be. Not to mention, everyone who menstruates has a different level of pain and a varied set of issues associated with menstruation. Being silent hinders us from getting the right treatment and from speaking to people with similar experiences. Obviously, putting up with pain and living with silent shame can have quite a negative impact on both your mental and physical health.
For women with severe menstrual disorders like endometriosis – it takes a long time for them to get an accurate diagnosis, sometimes even up to ten years. That is a lengthy period to suffer from severe pain without a correct medical diagnosis. When you do get diagnosed, doctors either give you the appropriate medicine or advise undergoing a surgical procedure if required. Many menstruators around the world turn to alternative treatments in the hopes of alleviating cramps, and one such potential remedy is medical marijuana. There is a relative shortage of scientific evidence when it comes to the use of medical marijuana. This may have something to do with the debate around the legalisation of marijuana. Again, this depends on which country and state you reside in. However, there is research available that looks at how parts of the cannabis plant may contribute to helping with the treatment of some medical conditions like chronic pain and stress relief.
Cannabis and pain relief:
It contains over 100 types of cannabinoids. When these compounds are in your body, they are absorbed with ease and stored in body fat. They can move with ease into your cells. They cross the barrier between blood and brain when inhaled or ingested. Do note that your body already has a lot of its own cannabinoid receptors, more so in the tissues of both the nervous system and immune system
Endocannabinoids are a type of cannabinoids produced by your body. Their compounds and receptors make up the endocannabinoid system in your body and play an essential role in bodily functions like regulating pain and inflammation. Two cannabinoids in marijuana that are most known are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Both boast properties that relieve pain and curb inflammation. Both have different interactions with the cannabinoid receptors in your body. This is where the differences between the two are highlighted. The high that you get from consuming marijuana is because of the psychoactive property of THC. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive and might even be a blocker of the high linked to THC.
Here is how cannabis may help with menstrual pain:
There has been ongoing research to try to understand how cannabinoids could work in helping with pain reduction. There are three ways to consume medical marijuana – by inhaling it, by eating it or by applying it like an ointment. It is believed that with inhaling or ingesting it, the high or euphoric state that follows creates an emotional response that alters one’s perception of pain. Another thought is that when the cannabinoids come from outside sources, they attach themselves to specific receptors, blocking the pain centres in your brain.
Cannabinoids that are administered topically, particularly CBD don’t seem to be psychoactive in nature and do not produce feelings of euphoria or highs. The belief here is that they attach to the cannabinoid receptors housed in the peripheral nervous system and suspend the pain signals to your brain. Whatever research that has been carried out to understand the function of the body’s cannabinoid receptors seems to support the possibility that cannabinoids from an external source like CBD might also minimise inflammation and curtail muscle spasms. And since the cramps caused by menstruation are due to inflammation and contractions of the uterus wall, perhaps applying CBD locally or topically could help in treating the pain.
How safe is Medical Marijuana?
Like most innovations, discoveries and studies, there will always be pros and cons to everything. While there are no scientific conclusions, there are a lot of people out there who have resorted to alternative methods in the hopes of alleviating pain. It is always best to do your research, listen to the experts, and not use it especially if you are under 25 years of age, have an addictive personality or have a personal or family history of psychosis. Also, it may be advisable to avoid it if you have any heart or lung diseases, are pregnant or planning for pregnancy. It is important to remember that there is still only a limited amount of credible evidence to the benefits. More substantial scientific and medical research is certainly needed. We are merely highlighting where the world currently stands when it comes to evidence.
However, though cannabis is not a first or second-line form of treatment during severe menstrual pain and cramps by any means, there is still a handful of women who may continue to turn to it for some respite. These would be especially for women who suffer from heavy bleeding, cramps (dysmenorrhea) or endometriosis.
For many women, other quick go-to’s for pain relief include chocolates, soothing hot water bottles, warm cups of coffee, green tea and hot chocolate and if really needed, pain killer tablets.