PMS can be relentless and ruthless
Mood swings, cramps, fatigue, irritability, and in some cases, depression; These symptoms are just some of those that women experience during the menstrual cycle. The biggest challenge with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is that no two cases are the same. Although there are widespread symptoms, many women experience some, none, or all of the above symptoms.
The variety of possible symptoms not only makes the lives of millions of women a monthly struggle, doctors also find it difficult to provide the most appropriate treatment. When it comes to combating a wide variety of symptoms, it might help to have a broader approach, rather than trying to solve each case individually.
To this end, many medical bodies recommend small dietary changes, exercise, good sleep, and relaxation therapies as means of managing or reducing PMS symptoms. But what about CBD? Before looking at the potential of this cannabinoid for women with PMS, it’s wise to understand what exactly is going on in their bodies.
What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?
Premenstrual syndrome (also known as premenstrual tension, TPM) occurs a few days before a woman’s period. Although the exact cause of PMS remains unknown, it is believed to be caused by increased levels of the hormone progesterone. Physical symptoms can manifest as tiredness, bloating, weight gain, breast tenderness, acne breakouts, insomnia, and changes in appetite.
On a psychological level, PMS is just as problematic. It is normal to experience irritability, anxiety, mood swings and depression, albeit temporarily. Most of the symptoms disappear completely at the end of the menstruation. However, they may vary from cycle to cycle, and may change with age. Although the variety of symptoms paints a very bleak picture, fortunately many women’s symptoms are mild and hardly affect their daily lives.
In rare cases, PMS symptoms can intensify, causing debilitating discomfort. Approximately 20-40% of all women experience severe symptoms, while 3-8% have been diagnosed with serious mental health problems (PMDD).
If you suffer from severe PMS, we don’t need to remind you how frustrating it is. Many women feel like they are losing control over their bodies and emotions, further aggravating what is already a difficult time. The absence of a known cause and the lack of scientific research make treating PMS challenging.
Could CBD help with PMS?
Now that we’ve looked at the possible symptoms, it’s time to find out what role CBD might play based on a number of preliminary studies. But it’s important to note that CBD is not thought to specifically influence PMS. Instead, this cannabinoid could focus its efforts on the physical and emotional symptoms of the disorder. Furthermore, research in this field remains very limited.
Unfortunately, both depression and anxiety are two psychological symptoms frequently associated with PMS. Preliminary results from human trials on social anxiety disorder indicate that CBD may have some potential in this field, while studies with animal models indicate an antidepressant action by this cannabinoid.
Sleep is essential to maintain health, both physical and mental. The insomnia experienced during PMS puts a woman under enormous pressure. In a study carried out by the University of São Paulo, CBD was administered to rats to analyze the effect of this cannabinoid on the sleep-wake cycle. It was found that mild doses of CBD (10-40mg) significantly increased the total percentage of sleep, in addition to increasing mental acuity during the day.
One of the most common symptoms of PMS is painful cramps. According to the University of Utah Pain Research and Management Centers, the endocannabinoid system has been shown to have an “important interrelationship with pain homeostasis.” CBD and ECS maintenance seem to go hand in hand. A review published in Trends In Pharmacological Sciences discovered that this compound could enhance the activation of cannabinoid receptors and promote the production of beneficial endocannabinoids.
The treatment of PMS is still very specific for each case
The sheer volume and variety of PMS symptoms means that there is no universal remedy. Along with prescription antidepressants, NSAIDs, and hormonal contraceptives, women may find that simple dietary or lifestyle changes are enough to make PMS symptoms more manageable.
The preliminary studies mentioned above seem to indicate that CBD may help manage many of the psychological and physical symptoms of PMS. However, research is in its infancy, not just in relation to CBD, but PMS in general. All treatment should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and as such, your doctor should always be your first resort, whether you want to take CBD or not. Given the relative safety of CBD, a feature corroborated by the WHO, we hope that in the future we will get a definitive answer.