Cannabis, Period: Using Marijuana To Relieve Menstrual Symptoms
It is no longer a secret that marijuana helps alleviate a plethora of conditions, from anxiety and depression to inflammation and muscle pain. Menstruation is no exception. Many menstruating folk use (and have used for millennia) this plant to combat period pain, thanks to its natural analgesic properties.
Given that these ailments affect around 80% of the world's menstruating population, any new course of treatment is welcome. Thus, we spoke with Tabitha Fritz, a women's health and cannabis expert, to gain a little perspective on the benefits that marijuana can provide for menstruation.
How does it work?
It is not hard to figure out that the most common use for marijuana regarding menstruation is the relief of cramps and premenstrual syndrome. But it must be clarified that cannabis is useful to combat other symptoms as well, such as interrupted sleep, headaches or migraines, an upset stomach and digestive problems. It also helps to cope with less physical and more emotional symptoms, such as irritability.
What is truly interesting is that the female reproductive system possesses a high concentration of endocannabinoid receptors. This makes menstruating people especially sensitive to the effects of cannabis in internal use products.
It is also key to note that estrogen levels, which fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, directly influence the cannabis experience.
“When estrogen is low (like right before their period), most women are less sensitive to the effects of THC than when their estrogen levels are higher. This is just before ovulation, in the middle of your cycle,” explains Tabitha.
“It’s important to know this because cannabis can be used throughout a woman's cycle to help alleviate symptoms. However, her experience will change in the course of that same cycle.”
How to use cannabis to alleviate period pain
In terms of delivery methods, whatever method you already use to consume cannabis will work perfectly, be it smoking, vaping, edibles, etc.
However, Tabitha particularly recommends cannabis-infused suppositories. This is because, as mentioned above, internal use products are more effective for women. The same is true for cannabis lubricants.
She also mentioned she personally uses THC or CBD oils, which help improve sleep, digestion, and overall mood. Tabitha applies a cannabis topical to her temples and neck as well, for headaches that can occur just before her period begins.
However, if you've never tried cannabis therapy to relieve your menstruation symptoms and would like to try it, the expert recommends starting out with a CBD product that doesn't contain THC.
See also: Legal Weed? What's That About?
CBD is the non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant, meaning that it does not "get you high". While THC is often best for pain relief and sleep aid, CBD's anti-inflammatory properties make it a great alternative for those who prefer not to consume THC.
With such an effective remedy so close at hand, it is shocking that cannabis is not used around the clock to alleviate negative menstrual symptoms. But marijuana and menstruation have something in common: stigma, invisibility and an insane lack of education around them.
We asked Tabitha if, over the course of her career, she had witnessed these factors affect the lives of women, girls, and menstruating people in general:
"Definitely. The stigma surrounding both menstruation and cannabis has meant that many women are not in touch with their own hormonal cycles, not even aware of them, and unwilling to explore the use of cannabis to help their own health and well-being.”
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In addition, she highlighted that the lack of education regarding cannabis extends to doctors as well as patients. Not only are they not trained to provide comprehensive education regarding the plant and its benefits, but they also often do not illustrate individuals on their hormonal cycles. This is alarming when you consider that most people’s main source of information on health is their GP.
Similarities don't stop there. As Tabitha explains, the invisibilization of both menstruation and marijuana is real, and it has been for centuries.
“In the same way that women have struggled to be seen and heard by medical professionals and researchers, cannabis as a remedy is often overlooked in favor of pills that treat specific symptoms.”
The future came long ago
With such a bleak outlook, it's good to remember that marijuana and menstruation have more in common than these depressing factors. Therefore, the expert emphasizes on other similarities, not only health-wise but spiritual:
“As I learned more about menstruation and cannabis, I came to appreciate how beautiful both are, and how unique they are to each person's experience. A woman's intuition is deep and sacred, and her experience with her own hormonal cycle can lead to powerful insight and knowledge on how to let her life flow. The cannabis experience can lead to similar revelations."
It must also be acknowledged that, step by step, this dire situation is changing. Cannabis legalization is already a reality in several countries, while for others it’s just around the corner. It is only a matter of time before its use becomes fully normal.
In addition, feminist movements everywhere keep fighting for women’s and dissidents’ rights, and to end the stigma related to menstruation, among many other things.
Meanwhile, access to information is increasing, reaching more and more people every day. This new available data must be used as a tool for proper education on these long-silenced topics.
Last but not least, it is essential that each person carry out their own work, internal and external, both in their individuality and in their community, to materialize and provide visibility to this new reality.
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