Bloody Hell: CBD and Menstruation Relief
Updated: May 2, 2019
Written by Lauren Wetenkamp
For most women, once a month Aunt Flow comes into town and brings with her bloating, cramps, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and of course vaginal bleeding. Even though half the population has to face this conundrum on a monthly basis, there are still far too few options for relieving menstrual cramps. The majority of women turn to NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) to help them relieve these symptoms, but is it effective and is it safe? And what about CBD? Can we rely on cannabinoids as a safer and more effective alternative?
Before we get into comparisons let’s discuss what happens to a woman’s body during menstruation. It’s kind of fucked but, ladies, our bodies want us to get pregnant. The uterus has one job: support life, thus it fulfills that duty by prepping the lining of the uterine wall, or endometrial tissue. Progesterone is the chemical that helps with this process by fluffing your arteries and blood lining your uterus for the show that’s about to take place. This goes one of two ways: either an embryo is headed for the warm and inviting environment your body has created in your uterus, or a bomb is about to go off in your lady parts. If you’re a masochist like me, you’re praying for the latter. As enticing as single-mom bartender with crippling debt sounds, I’ll still begrudgingly welcome Aunt Flow into my home when she drops in.
When the inevitable bomb sounds off inside the uterus a lot of things happen; that cute little endometrial tissue that formed from all the estrogen coursing through the body is now being sucked dry. A lot of nutrients reside inside the endometrial tissue and the body wants them back, so it strangles the spiral-shaped arteries lining the tissue - cue menstrual cramps.
Progesterone made an Irish exit from this party a long time ago, and without it the endometrium cannot protect itself from tissue-dissolving enzymes, or vesicles (#NatureIsMetal). These vesicles are weak and explode, creating a domino effect in your uterus - killing neighboring cells and spilling more vesicles in a chain-reaction that ruptures pools of blood caught in venous pools aka that Kill Bill scene that occasionally shows up in your toilet.
Since progesterone is out, prostaglandins or inflammatory chemicals, start increasing. These guys are like the god-damn patriarchal suppressors of a woman’s body.
You can thank them for the following symptoms:
Inflammation - more cell death (like we need help with that).
Pain Sensitization - making pain receptors more sensitive.
Vasoconstriction - causing blood vessels to constrict and suffocate endometrial tissue.
Uterine Contractions - choking blood supply to the endometrium (doctors are now admitting that uterine contractions are comparable to heart attacks...yeah).
Diarrhea - from triggers in the digestive tract as well (it can’t just suppress one system in the body).
The woman’s body is beautiful, amirite? So how does the “lesser sex” deal with this fiasco? As mentioned before, a majority of women have turned to NSAIDs like ibuprofen, myself included. I can testify that NSAIDs can be a miracle pill at times. They’re also pretty terrible for your digestive tract. NSAIDs work because they cock block those prostaglandins (COX-2) like your parents walking in on you and your high school boyfriend just as he’s rounding second base. The problem is they also block the prostaglandin (COX-1) which affects your digestive tract. That’s why NSAIDs need to be taken in moderation, and people with digestive issues should avoid them altogether.
CBD, however, just blocks COX-2 prostaglandins and not COX-1 which means pain relief without the stomach aches; added bonus - CBD and THC have been shown to stop your DNA from producing too much of the prostaglandin. Along with the gastrointestinal relief CBD relieves inflammation by preventing macrophages, from releasing inflammatory proteins; as well as desensitizing nerve receptors and targeting receptors to get muscles to relax.
If hemp and marijuana are so effective for pain relief then why the fuck aren’t we using them more to bring our pussies relief? Well, we have been for some time now. Historical texts have shown marijuana being used to alleviate menstrual pain as long ago as the 16th century in China. Even Queen Victoria was using pot, her doctor prescribed them frequently for her menstrual pain. With the legalization of hemp, the legalization of recreational marijuana in some states, as well as more scientific studies being done, we now know that CBD and THC can be safe alternatives to NSAIDs, and pretty enjoyable alternatives at that. So next time Aunt Flow rears her ugly head, spark a joint or take your CBD supplement, put on some Queer Eye and thank her for no unexpected pregnancies heading your way.