Medical Cannabis for PMS

How Medical Marijuana Helps Treat PMS & Best Strains

Can medical marijuana be used to safely and effectively treat the symptoms of PMS?

According to research and anecdotal reports, medical marijuana may, indeed, be an option for those seeking a natural way to combat the multiple maladies associated with PMS. In this post, we’ll touch on some of the evidence and explain how PMS sufferers can get a medical marijuana card.

Premenstrual Syndrome, aka PMS refers to the combination of symptoms that can arise around a week before a woman’s menstrual period, often between ovulation and the onset of menstrual bleeding. 

Headaches, cramps, bloating, and other issues are not only intolerable, but they can also affect a woman’s sleep resulting in a downward spiral in health. 

Although there are not sufficient clinical studies to prove that marijuana can be used to treat premenstrual syndrome as a whole, there is plenty of research and patient reports that show that medical marijuana can be effective for some women at treating certain symptoms such as pain, cramping, and mood swings. 

A bit about PMS

The main complaints of women suffering from PMS include:
  • Headaches

  • Cramping

  • Insomnia

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

Other symptoms that can also sometimes occur during premenstrual cycles include poor concentration, changes in libido, joint or muscle pain, fatigue, weight gain related to fluid retention, abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, acne flare ups, and more. It’s certainly not a pleasant experience, to say the least. Physicians will often prescribe non-steroidal painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications for PMS discomfort. However, women with sensitive stomachs and gastrointestinal problems may be unable to tolerate these over the counter remedies.

Using medical marijuana to relieve symptoms of PMS

Multiple studies have shown medical marijuana to be a safe, reliable, and effective treatment for many of these particular symptoms

Medical marijuana for relieving headaches

The migraine headaches that often accompany PMS are generated by stimuli from damaged or irritated nerve endings in the skull. This inflammation is due to the hormonal fluctuations that happen during this monthly cycle. 

As mentioned above, many women cannot tolerate the usual OTC remedies used for acute headaches associated with PMS.

Recent studies have indicated PMS-related migraines may actually be the result of an endocannabinoid deficiency. This deficiency in the production of our own natural endocannabinoids can result in a severe inflammatory response. 

Actually, cannabis has been touted as a natural headache remedy for well over a century. In fact, it is a well-documented fact that Queen Victoria was prescribed cannabis for monthly migraines brought on by PMS. 

Also, Sir William Osler (founder of Johns Hopkins, and called “the Father of Modern Medicine”) was famous for recommending cannabis as a cure for severe migraines and cluster headaches. He believed and proclaimed that cannabis “is the most satisfactory” remedy for migraines. 

Clinical research presented at the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology confirmed that cannabinoids are, indeed, suitable for migraine prophylaxis, prevention, and treatment. (See the list of studies at the end of the article.)

Medical marijuana for relieving cramps 

The medical term for menstrual abdominal cramping is “dysmenorrhea.” Many women suffer for days prior to and during their monthly cycle. Some women experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue as a result of the intense spasms. 

When the uterus contracts it puts pressure on blood vessels, cutting off oxygen to the muscle tissue. The resulting pain is due to the lack of oxygen in the uterus during the contraction.

Research has indicated cannabis is an effective treatment for menstrual cramping. The effect is thought to be caused when a cannabinoid in marijuana known as THC binds to CB1 receptors found in the brain and nervous system and reduces the severity of pain signals.

Additional research has shown another cannabinoid, cannabidiol, or CBD, to be an effective anti-spasmodic indicating that it can also potentially help relieve cramps. CBD is also known for its ability to reduce inflammation and regulate pain response.

Medical marijuana for PMS-related insomnia

Insomnia is a common complaint for women suffering from PMS.  Doctors have come to believe that a significant drop in progesterone before and during a woman’s cycle causes sleep disruption. This is in addition to the other symptoms that can rob a woman of sleep.

Patients who use cannabis to treat insomnia report far greater results from medical marijuana than conventional sleep aids, which often cause a “hangover” effect and lethargy the next day.

In a famous 18th-century medical publication called Materia Medica cannabis was referred to as a “narcotica” and “anodyna” (sedative and pain reliever). And a study as far back as 1843 showed the remedial properties of “Indian hemp” for sleep issues. A more recent study from 2014 suggests that cannabis is likely beneficial for inducing sleep. 

THC is well known to be a sedative, especially the Indica strains of cannabis. However, if anxiety during the menstrual cycle is causing sleeplessness, a cannabis strain with a higher CBD content may be prudent. 

Studies have indicated that CBD produces a reduction in tryptophan degeneration. Tryptophan activates the pineal gland, causing melatonin production. Melatonin is one hormone responsible for regulating sleep cycles.

Moreover, cannabis may help with sleep issues simply by reducing sleep-disturbing cramps and pain. 

Medical marijuana for relieving anxiety and depression

When a woman is experiencing PMS, she is assaulted with a multitude of physical complaints. Premenstrual migraines, cramping, and sleeplessness will often fuel the onset of anxiety and depression

As previously outlined, cannabis is known to help with a variety of PMS symptoms, thus making medical marijuana an effective treatment for the mental distress that can result in anxiety and depression. 

Dr. Samir Haj-Dahman of the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions studied the correlation between cannabis and certain ailments caused by pain and emotional duress. The results showed a connection between a significant drop in endocannabinoids and emotional stress. 

THC and CBD have a similar chemical construct as the endocannabinoids produced by the body and have been shown to mimic the effects of endocannabinoids responsible for mood regulation. A study done at McGill University experimented with synthetic THC and found it to be an effective antidepressant when administered in low doses. 

Furthermore, the CBD in medical marijuana has been shown to be a powerful alternative to classic antidepressants. CBD has the ability to mimic the effects of an endocannabinoid known as anandamide which is responsible for regulating the production and uptake of the mood-enhancing hormone serotonin. 

Types of medical marijuana products to relieve PMS symptoms

There are a variety of delivery methods that patients can use to ingest medical marijuana. Some of these include:

  • Dried flower for smoking or cooking

  • Vaporizer oils

  • Tinctures

  • Topicals

  • Transdermal Patches

  • Edibles

Generally, products such as topicals, patches, and edibles contain purified CBD or THC. However, vaporizer oils, tinctures, and dried flower oftentimes contain other minor cannabinoids produced in marijuana plus compounds such as terpenes some of which themselves can help relieve the symptoms of PMS. 

Different cannabis strains provide different combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes thus producing a particular set of effects. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect. It’s wise to experiment with various strains for ultimate efficacy and the least unwanted side effects. 

Learn more about terpenes and the curious care of the entourage effect.

Some of the potential side effects resulting from the use of medical marijuana include feelings of intoxication, dizziness or lightheadedness, dry eyes and mouth, reduced reaction time, sluggishness, and reduced short term memory. 

To avoid a sudden onset of unwanted effects such as intoxication and anxiety you should start with smaller doses at first and work your way up to a dosage that provides relief without unwanted effects. For adults, starting with 5 to 10 milligrams is recommended (depending on body size) before increasing dosage. 

Also, in addition to medical marijuana, you have the choice of using hemp-derived CBD products which do not contain THC. Products containing CBD extracted from hemp are available for purchase in stores and online. 

Healthcare practitioners and budtenders can help you determine the best strains and delivery methods for treating your particular symptoms. 

Below are a few medical marijuana strains that are commonly used for treating the symptoms of PMS. 

10 best marijuana strains for treating PMS symptoms

  • OG Kush (hybrid) – Pain reduction and mood swings
  • Ultimate Trainwreck (Sativa) – Daytime mood swings
  • Strawberry Banana (Indica-Dominant Hybrid) – Pain relief and mood swings
  • Pineapple (Indica dominant hybrid) – Nighttime stress and pain relief
  • Purple Urkle (Indica) – Relieve cramps and sleep aid 
  • Vanilla Kush (Indica) – Relieve cramps and sleep aid 
  • Super Silver Haze (Sativa) – Stabilize mood swings 
  • Sweet Tooth (Indica dominant hybrid) – Headaches and stress relief
  • Jilly Bean (hybrid) – Daytime relief from pain and mood swings
  • Lavender (hybrid) – Stress relief and sleep aid

How to get a medical marijuana card for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

There are now more than 30 US states that permit those suffering from certain medical conditions to purchase medical cannabis products at state-licensed dispensaries. Furthermore, 10 states have legalized marijuana for use by all adults. 

Although PMS is not a common qualifying condition for a medical marijuana card, some states leave the decision as to whether or not medical marijuana can provide relief up to the patient’s doctor.

Furthermore, in certain states, individual symptoms of PMS such as depression and insomnia are listed as qualifying conditions. 

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