does weed help period cramps

Does Weed Actually Work for Period Cramps?

Soma, a marijuana dispensary in Crested Butte, Colorado, only stocks a few dozen of a product called Foria Relief at a time, and they don’t sell them as quickly as some of their other items. But people who come in looking for them know exactly what they’re looking for, and typically say they heard by word of mouth how well they work, according to the store.

Foria Relief is for periods. They’re cannabis-filled suppositories, meant to be inserted directly into the vagina, and sold as holistic treatment for menstrual cramps. It’s one of a handful of pot products claiming to ease period pain—Whoopi Goldberg, for one, has a line of topical ointments, tinctures and bath salts marketed for period pain.

Is there evidence that weed ca help treat period pain?

There’s a solid body of evidence on the pain-relieving properties of marijuana, so using pot for this particular type of pain seems to make sense. In some states, lawmakers are pushing to add menstrual pain, or dysmenorrhea, to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.

However, there are a few factors to consider before turning to weed each month, and when selecting your weed delivery system. Even though anecdotal evidence, easily found online, points to pot as a period cure-all, there hasn’t actually been any scientific research on it. There’s one scientific case study done on cannabis and period pain—but it was published in 1847.

Just because there hasn’t been any research done on the subject doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. It does mean, though, that doctors aren’t likely to list it as a medically approved option. “I can’t fully recommend it, because we don’t know everything about its efficacy and safety,” says Leena Nathan, an obstetrician-gynecologist at UCLA Health.

It’s not ideal that there isn’t much research on the subject, says Jordan Tischler, an emergency physician who oversees InhaleMD, a cannabis clinic in Massachusetts. “Is cannabis effective for menstrual pain? The answer is, anecdotally, yes. The flip side is, ‘has anyone studied this in a rigorous, scientific manner?’ And the answer is no.” But that doesn’t discount it entirely, Tischler says. “For the right condition, and severity of discomfort, I think cannabis is a good bet.”

Doctors and scientists also don’t know how, exactly, weed might interact with the causes of period pain. Cramps are largely caused by hormones called prostaglandins, which are released from the lining of the uterus and signal it to contract. The hormones also cause inflammation, which contributes to pain. Birth control pills, which can help with painful periods, reduce the amount of prostaglandin produced during the menstrual cycle. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, like aspirin and ibuprofen, do as well.

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Weed has anti-inflammatory properties, which is one potential way it could help period pain, Nathan says. Feeling relaxed, in general, and dampening pain, might have some effect. And cannabinoids might be able to interact with prostaglandins, though there’s not enough evidence to say for sure. “It’s hard to say, just based on how cramps during menstrual cycles work,” she says.

Are cannabis suppositories safe?

If cannabis is still your drug of choice during that time of the month, it’s worth considering how you’re taking it. Foria’s cannabis suppositories are probably the most out-of-the-box pain relieving products, and Nathan says they raise some red flags. “I’m not sure how safe that would be,” she says. We don’t know how, or how much, of the active ingredients might be absorbed into the vagina, or how that entry point might be different from the lungs. (Experts such as gynecologist Jen Gunter have expressed similar concerns.)

Creams, rubs, butters, and bath salts—topical treatments that you don’t ingest—are also advertised as cramp-relievers. In mice, studies show they relieve pain caused by inflammation, but there’s very limited research on how effective they might be overall.

“Part of what we’re talking about is trying to sort out marketing hype from good doctoring,” Tischler says. He sees patients struggling with menstrual pain, and if they’re interested in using cannabis, he recommends they stick with basic, tried-and-true smoking. “A fairly simple approach, just a low dose of vaporized flower,” he says. “It’s effective, and without a lot of risk.”

If the standard treatments for menstrual cramps like over-the-counter painkillers don’t work, Nathan says people should talk to their doctors before trying something new. “There are other medications that can help,” she says. “There are lots of methods we can use that are evidence proven. People who don’t necessarily talk to doctors might be hearing things anecdotally, and going with that information.” It’s hard to know what’s reliable, she says, and what’s just someone’s opinion.

Nathan guesses that some patients might be scared, or embarrassed, to tell their doctor if they’re using something like marijuana to treat a medical problem themselves. “But I would encourage everyone to be open with their physician, even if it’s something out of the ordinary.”

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Menstrual pain could soon be a condition that qualifies for medical marijuana.

How Cannabis Could Help Manage Period Pain And Menstrual Cramps

Many menstruating women experience painful cramping and other symptoms before and during their period. Does cannabis have the ability to help ease these symptoms?

For many women, period pain and menstrual cramps are an all-too-common, yet extremely natural, occurrence. When it comes to soothing symptoms, there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications available. However, some of these come with their own side effects, and not all of them are effective for each individual. Therefore, some women turn to cannabis in an effort to manage their symptoms. Is there any scientific backing behind this?


Some medical experts are still hesitant to consider cannabis for treating common women’s health problems such as period pain and cramps, which is astonishing seeing that the plant has a long history of being used exactly for this purpose. It goes back centuries, as demonstrated by the findings of board-certified neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher, and Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI) Ethan Russo, MD. He points out that the use of cannabis for women’s health dates back to at least 16th century China. Back then, cannabis was commonly given as a medicine for menstrual cramps and related pain.

Some time later, in the 19th century, cannabis was again frequently prescribed for period pain and cramping. This time, however, it was in England where Queen Victoria was given cannabis as the go-to medicine for menstrual cramps by her royal physician. Yet, there is no mention of marijuana for treating these common ailments in medical literature.


In the introduction to his book _Women and Cannabis: Medicine, Science, and Sociology (Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics)_, Dr. Ethan Russo states, “As will be discussed, its [cannabis’] role as an herbal remedy in obstetric and gynecological conditions is ancient, but will surprise most by its breadth and prevalence”.

While this does little to draw any concrete links between cannabis and menstrual pain relief, it shows that the history of this pairing goes back far and wide. After all, centuries of cannabis use by women can’t be by accident.

Everyone from Queen Victoria to the modern stoner has tried using a cannabis preparation to reduce period cramps, although there is a frustrating lack of data on the efficacy of THC and/or CBD for this purpose. However, what is known is that topical cannabis, like creams, gels, etc., do not reach the bloodstream, instead providing local relief. This means that, even when applying a THC-rich topical to the skin, you will not get high. This makes topical cannabis preparations a more viable option for many women looking to ease cramping or period pain.

There’s also the option to take cannabis orally or via inhalation. Then again, consumed this way, the THC would cause a high, which isn’t always desired by those looking to utilise cannabis throughout the day.

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Microdosing cannabis is another option. This way, patients can get minimal yet medicinal doses of cannabinoids in their system, evenly spread out over the day. This can minimise unwanted effects that would otherwise occur when taking larger doses.


Most of the time, women not only experience cramping during their period, but a whole host of other uncomfortable symptoms in the days leading up to it. This common condition, known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), can manifest in tender breasts, bloating and upset stomach, headache, lower sex drive, as well as mood swings and other symptoms. For this reason, PMS doesn’t so much describe a single condition as it does a range of different symptoms.

Of course, not all women experience the same PMS symptoms, and they can vary in severity based on genetic factors and environmental factors like stress. Here too there is a strong case for cannabis easing many of these symptoms in the same way it does cramping and pain during menstruation.


Headaches and migraines are also common symptoms that can manifest during or before menstruation. A 2016 study [1] published in the journal of _Pharmacotherapy_ found cannabis to help reduce monthly migraines.

Researchers examined a group of 121 adults who suffered from migraines, finding that cannabis greatly helped reduce the monthly migraine attacks from 10.4 to 4.6. Although the study didn’t look into migraines associated with PMS, the drastic reduction of symptoms found in their study is still noteworthy.

Regarding headaches and migraines, it may be advantageous to consider microdosing, as high-THC cannabis is not a viable option for most people to dose throughout the day. Using a low concentration of THC and higher levels of CBD will help to limit psychotropic effects.


The monthly hormonal changes in a woman’s body can also cause mood swings. These mood swings may occur in the days leading up to the period, a time known as the luteal phase. Unfortunately, common medical practice is for doctors to simply prescribe antidepressants, many of which have a long list of potential side effects.

Aside from using cannabis to benefit the body, anecdotal accounts show that people also take it to ease emotional stress, depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Now, it isn’t a secret that some people enjoy THC-rich cannabis simply for recreational purposes, say when they want to relax; but THC isn’t fully responsible for all of cannabis’ effects.

A 2015 study [2] published in Neurotherapeutics suggests that “CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders”, including, but not limited to, general anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, and PTSD. Moreover, researchers suggest that CBD likely exerts its effects via multiple physiological pathways, such as the endocannabinoid system, the serotonergic system, and more.

CBD also acts as an anandamide reuptake inhibitor [3] , essentially inhibiting the endocannabinoid’s degradation in the body. One study found this to result in increased serum anandamide levels [4] , leading researchers to associate this with “improvement of clinical symptoms” related to schizophrenia. Why is this important? Anandamide is often referred to as the “bliss molecule” due to its function as a “feel-good” neurotransmitter. It also influences processes related to memory, immunity, eating, fertility, and more.

Here too, it’s unclear exactly how and to what extent cannabis can provide relief, but it does demonstrate that the various cannabinoids in cannabis produce different effects, which makes cannabis quite a versatile plant for scientific inquisition. For the average person looking to relieve period pain and cramps, if you’re already using cannabis as a way to relax your body and mind, feel free to experiment with using weed for period pain. Record your findings and keep track of which strains you use, and which cannabinoids these strains contain.


Cannabis as an effective and safe alternative for treating many health conditions is a big topic at present. Rarely does a month go by without the release of some genuinely groundbreaking or progressive research on the subject. With cannabis laws steadily becoming more lax in more countries, cannabis has now finally entered the mainstream consciousness, and is also spurring interest in the scientific and medical communities.

As one result, places like New Jersey in the US are now considering adding menstrual cramps to the list of approved medical conditions treatable with cannabis. This is noteworthy because New Jersey’s cannabis laws are otherwise quite strict. Former New Jersey politician Tim Eustace, who served in the New Jersey General Assembly until last year, has introduced new legislation that will allow the use of medicinal cannabis for these purposes.

Word of the effectiveness of cannabis, especially for women’s health, is also being spread with the help of popular celebrities. Famous comedian Whoopi Goldberg has partnered with edibles creator Maya Elisabeth to create a line of cannabis-infused products targeted to women looking to relieve period pain and cramps. Like so many women, Goldberg wondered why cannabis wasn’t widely marketed to alleviate cramps, especially with all the preliminary evidence. She got the astonishing answer that this would be a “very niche” product for the industry. So, with her new brand of cannabis products designed especially for women, she’s now targeting that “niche”, which after all “is made up of half the population”, as Goldberg points out.

With increased public awareness surrounding the rediscovered use of cannabis for women’s health, and the recent promising research, the future of cannabis as a medicine for treating period pain does indeed look good. It may well be that cannabis once again becomes the favourite “women’s medicine” it was lauded as for hundreds of years.

In previous times, cannabis was a popular medicine to treat period pain. Today, the herb is being rediscovered as an effective