Using CBD Pain Relief Properties for Menstrual Cramps
Using CBD Pain Relief Properties for Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps and CBD. What do these two things have in common?
They've both been with humans for millennia!
20% of women say they suffer from menstrual pain so severe it interferes with daily activities. That's why a new understanding of age-old CBD is drawing the interest of women who suffer from period pains.
But what is CBD pain relief and how does it work?
We've put together everything you need to know about CBD and how it can help with menstrual pain.
Causes of Menstrual Discomfort
There's more than one cause behind menstrual discomfort. So before we take a look at how CBD pain relief can help, it's useful to look at where the discomfort comes from.
Abdominal cramps are one of the most frequent complaints by menstruating women. They're technically known as dysmenorrhea, but more importantly, they can cause abject misery.
Abdominal cramps can cause severe pain. It can interfere with work and other daily activities, even requiring sick leave. And even now, many women find it embarrassing to speak up about it - they suffer in silence.
The uterus is to blame for these cramps. During menstruation, chemicals called prostaglandins trigger the lining of the uterus to expand and contract rapidly. For women with too many prostaglandins, the severity of the movements causes severe cramps.
Lower Back and Leg Pain
Sadly, abdominal pain doesn't stay where it should. Many women also experience leg and lower back pain around the time of their period. This appears to originate with abdominal cramping, causing contraction and swelling of muscles elsewhere in response to the pain.
Some of this can also pop up due to the chemical storm that is menstruation. Variations in the body's hormone levels can aggravate existing injuries and conditions. This can cause niggles to balloon into severe pain.
Interference by your body's hormones can also lead to problems taking up minerals, leading to problems like magnesium deficiency, which further aggravates problems.
Again, it's all down to those pesky hormones. Hormone levels bottom out in the days prior to the onset of a period. For some women, this causes breast pain.
Breast pain can occur in one or both breasts. Unlike cramps, it's not caused by muscle contractions. Instead, it's usually described as a heavy or sore feeling.
Low magnesium levels might contribute to breast pain. Some women manage the severity of the pain by eating a low-fat diet or reducing their caffeine intake. Birth control pills might reduce breast pain, but they can also cause it in some cases. In all cases, this often requires drastic lifestyle changes just to avoid pain during a period.
Studies have shown a close link between mood and physical wellness. The devastating impact a period can have on a woman's temperament is no secret. A drop in mood can exaggerate existing pain and leave you less able to deal with it.
Emotions become unstable during menstruation. Hormones disrupt brain chemistry, to say nothing of the mental toll of pain and discomfort.
Mood can also lock you in a self-defeating cycle. The more pain you're in, the worse your mood, and the more the pain hurts. For women who experience difficult periods, a good mood can disappear even just knowing a period is on the way.
Trouble sleeping is another common period problem. Much like mood, it's also another Catch-22. The pain and negative emotions from a period can cause trouble sleeping. But poor sleep itself leaves the body feeling run-down.
That opens you up to feeling even worse. Sleep is often out of our control, however, so it can cause a lot of frustration when mood is already at its lowest point and sleep seems to be the only relief from pain.
Medication may help, but it can also have unpredictable results when hormones are going haywire.
Headaches and Migraines
Although not a universal problem, headaches and migraines are crowning misery of a bad period for some women.
Menstruation migraines are associated with falling estrogen levels in the days leading up to a period. Migraines associated with periods are often particularly severe.
While some women can control migraines with contraceptive medication, others find this can bring on the attacks. Again, this can be traced back to fluctuations in estrogen levels.
Naturally, all these problems interact with each other in unpleasant ways. Migraines interfere with sleep, negative mood causes additional pain, stress contributes to migraines and so on. Ideally, one solution would be able to tackle multiple problems. That's where CBD pain relief comes in.
What Is CBD?
So what is CBD pain relief? And how can it help?
In simple terms, cannabidiol (or CBD) is a chemical compound found abundantly in cannabis plants. It's extracted from the plant and ingested for a variety of pharmaceutical benefits.
Although recent studies have shed more light on CBD, humans have understood its health effects for millennia. Human cannabis use dates back to 12,000 years ago, so it was around almost for the dawn of agriculture. In more recent history, Queen Victoria famously used CBD pain relief to help with menstrual cramps.
But in the modern day, the mere mention of cannabis is enough to cause debates. So let's clear up what CBD isn't.
CBD shouldn't be confused with its 'cousin', THC. THC is the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis - the "high". This compound is distinct from cannabidiol and is illegal in many territories. Debates about the legality of cannabis are centered on the THC substance.
But CBD isn't psychoactive. That means it has less effect on your brain than the average cup of coffee! For this reason, CBD isn't regulated like THC. In fact, CBD is even known to counter the effects of THC on the body.
Unlike THC, CBD oil is mostly produced from hemp plants. Hemp doesn't have the bad wrap of marijuana. It's recognized worldwide for its industrial uses, such as in textiles. Hemp contains high levels of CBD relative to THC, so it's a good source of completely legal cannabidiol.
Modern CBD is extracted from cannabis plants and transformed into a consumable product. The need for customer choice means CBD can be taken in a number of different forms, including:
These delivery systems vary in level of efficiency. CBD pain relief is more effective if the CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Vaping is one of the most immediate ways to deliver CBD pain relief to the bloodstream through the lungs.
But for those who don't vape, other options are available. Topicals can be applied directly to the affected area, but their absorption rate is low. Even so, they're useful for joint pain.
Tinctures designed for dropping under the tongue are an effective way to get CBD pain relief due to easy absorption into the blood.
Edible options allow you to consume CBD, such as in capsule form or with food. These take longer to act, but can provide more lasting relief.
And if you're worried about flavor, you have options! Like most vape liquids, CBD comes in a huge assortment of flavors, from cinnamon to caramel. Other forms, like tinctures, may carry the taste of olive oil used in their dilution.
CBD Pain Relief
Now we know what CBD is, we can talk about CBD pain relief.
The pain-relieving properties of cannabidiol are backed by multiple studies. Said studies repeatedly show the many and varied benefits of taking CBD.
Even better, CBD is largely free of known side-effects. On the pharmaceutical curve, it has more in common with caffeine than prescription medication. Its effects are potent, but the drug acts in a gentle way.
So how does it work?
Biologically speaking, your body is tailor-made for CBD pain relief. The human body hosts a network known as the endogenous cannabinoid system. It's a collection of transmitters and receptors running through your body, interfacing with your spine, brain, and other organs.
The network is intended for the body's natural endocannabinoids. That means your body already hosts some compounds very similar to CBD. So it's no wonder humans have had a close relationship with the cannabis plants for millennia.
CBD has low binding affinity to the system's receptors. But by entering the system, it helps those receptors bind with the endocannabinoids they're intended for.
Endorphins are a more well-known equivalent to endocannabinoids. Like their famous counterparts, endocannabinoids exist to regulate pain and mood in the body.
What About Menstruation?
We've established CBD is a potent, naturally-occurring form of pain relief. But how does that help with menstrual cramps and discomfort? Let's take its effects one by one and see what it can do.
The muscle-relaxing properties of CBD are well understood in the scientific community. This is a key pillar of CBD pain relief.
As well as helping with conditions like arthritis, CBD can ease cramps associated with menstruation. We mentioned earlier that cramps come about due to intense expanding and contraction of the uterus wall. CBD eases discomfort by relaxing the muscles involved, easing spasms.
Some women also experience gastrointestinal problems during menstruation. These problems can be caused by abdominal spasms. Relaxing these muscles can cause the secondary relief of easing pain and discomfort in the digestive tract.
Period pains are often accompanied by secondary pain brought about by vitamin and hormone deficiencies. This kind of pain emerges in vulnerable areas of the body, like the joints. Your body's sudden vulnerability can amplify prior conditions like arthritis or old breaks and tears.
Pain in weakened joints often comes from inflammation. CBD's anti-inflammatory properties can reduce swelling in the joints, easing pain.
Like it's muscle-relaxing properties, CBD's anti-inflammatory effects can ease gastrological problems. Swelling in the digestive tract can lead to constipation or diarrhea during menstruation, especially for women with existing conditions. By reducing inflammation, CBD pain relief can relieve discomfort.
CBD isn't just physically relaxing, it also relaxes the mind.
As an anxiolytic compound, CBD is effective at treating diseases of the mind. Stress, anxiety, and depression have all been reduced in human and animal testing by CBD.
It isn't clear exactly how CBD helps with mental functioning. But it's believed to support blood oxygenation and effect the amygdala, among other things.
Regardless of the reasons, cannabidiol can tackle the mental pain of a period. Headaches brought on by stress can be reduced. Emotional outbursts can be limited. And a more positive mindset is always helpful when the body is at its weakest.
There's a body of evidence to show CBD is a strong sleep regulator.
We've mentioned that sleep can be elusive during a difficult period. Much like sleep problems themselves, CBD's effects can be traced back to a number of causes.
The aforementioned pain relief and mood regulation can go a long way to a good night's sleep.
Ironically, in lower doses, CBD actually increases alertness. So with the help of CBD, a bad night's sleep doesn't have to mean a ruined day.
Balancing the System
We've talked a lot about the chemical and hormonal disruption caused by menstruation. But as we also mentioned, the endocannabinoid system is designed to regulate many of the affected areas.
CBD pain relief boosts the functioning of the endocannabinoid system. So when a menstruation body is at its most chaotic, CBD can bring order to the system without introducing new problems.
Migraine relief is one of the known benefits of this regulation. Scientists believe menstrual migraines from the brain's reaction to sudden chemical changes, so providing stability can help prevent migraines and counteract their effects when they occur.
CBD for Menstrual Cramps
CBD pain relief provides an exciting new option that could change the lives of women dealing with menstrual cramps. We're still learning more about CBD every day. As scientists begin to understand how it interacts with the human body, we'll likely see even more potential benefits from CBD use.
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