People who menstruate have been contending with uncomfortable period symptoms for millennia – and using herbal remedies to ease cramping, boost energy, and make periods more pleasant in general.
Since everything old is new again, many have turned to one of the oldest herbal remedies — hemp — and its psychoactive sister cannabis. More and more people have discovered that CBD and THC — alone or together — work wonders when periods are less than peaceful, especially when used in a suppository format to deliver these miracle molecules right where they're needed.
And unlike the herbal healers of the past, who didn’t know why hemp worked for pain and inflammation, we modern types have answers from contemporary science. So how could the herb be your period’s best friend?
Your body naturally produces chemicals called prostaglandins. They’re necessary for many essential functions, and play a major role in helping your uterus shed the unused tissue that becomes your menstrual flow. Unfortunately they can also cause pain, inflammation, cramping, and sometimes diarrhea.
When inhibitions are a good thing.
CBD, a compound found in hemp, inhibits the production of COX-2, an enzyme that your body uses to create those painful prostaglandins. This can help to ease pain, or even prevent it before it starts. It’s the same mechanism that makes over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen work – but those drugs also inhibit another enzyme, COX-1, that helps protect the digestive system. This is why OTC pain medications can cause unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects. CBD addresses the pain without upsetting your stomach (probably the last thing you want to deal with when cramps get challenging).
THC, CBD’s psychoactive sibling, also eases inflammation by activating receptors that prevent your body from releasing inflammatory proteins. And in addition to preventing prostaglandins from causing the inflammation that leads to pain, both CBD and THC soothe discomfort by desensitizing pain-perceiving nerves.
Two ways to relax.
Cramps are actually contractions of the smooth muscle that lines the uterus. THC and CBD both target receptors embedded in the muscle tissue to relax contractions. Blood vessels are also lined with smooth muscle, and when cannabinoids trigger this smooth muscle to relax, blood flow increases. Increased blood flow could help provide relief to oxygen-starved tissues, further decreasing painful cramps.
Hot water bottles, chocolate and Netflix are all valuable tools for making peace with your cycle – but adding a friendly plant to your monthly toolkit could help make this your best period ever.