Does Cannabis Really Help Period Cramps?

Cannabis products - including Foria Relief suppositories and Whoopi Goldberg's new line of THC-infused suppositories, salves, and bath soaks - are being hailed as an all-natural solution to cramps and other period-related symptoms.

But not everyone's convinced such concoctions actually work. U.S.-based gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter told Global News that Goldberg's medical marijuana line, "seemed completely untested," saying women should consult a gynecologist before resorting to THC and CBD-infused goodies.

While there have been few scientific studies on how, precisely, cannabis treats menstrual pain, women have been using the plant for that purpose for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

"One of the biggest medical uses of cannabis in the 19th century was for the treatment of menstrual cramps and reduction of labor pain," writes Jan Chaboya-Hembree of Medical Marijuana.com.

She wrote that, throughout history, "many women have [..] found that it does control menstrual cramps."

Queen Victoria used cannabis to treat pain

Sir J. Russell Reynolds, physician to Queen Victoria, prescribed the queen cannabis to relieve her menstrual cramps.

"When pure and administered carefully, [cannabis] is one of the most valuable medicines we possess," he wrote in 1890, notes Julia Wick in her essay on the history of medical marijuana in Europe.

Despite the dearth of peer-reviewed studies on menstrual cramps and cannabis, marijuana has been demonstrated to be effective in treating nausea and reducing pain associated with ailments ranging from cancer to Crohn's disease. Many women who vaporize, smoke, or consume flower in edibles say it similarly offers relief from their debilitating monthly cramps.

Different strains treat pain more effectively

There is, predictably in such an unstudied arena, some debate as to which strains work best for this type of pain. While Simone Fischer at The Weed Blog says "indicas are well known for their effective pain-relieving qualities often lacking in sativas," and are "much more effective" than sativas in treating cramps, Leafly, recommends sativa-dominant Kerala Krush for "a very smooth, clear cerebral buzz with flavors of mango fruit and warm spice" for patients seeking relief of menstrual cramps and nausea.

Until better research is made available, trial and error may be the cannabis consumer's best guide to what works for them - provided they observe caution.

"It's true, if someone had PMS and they used too much [cannabis], they could get anxious or worsen their symptoms," Ethan Russo, a neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher told Global News. For those who want the relief, without the buzz, it may be worth seeking out the offerings from Whoopi Goldberg and Maya Elisabeth which use THC topically, and won't actually get you high.

And if you live in New Jersey, it may soon be a treatment recognized by the government medical marijuana program. On April 8, state assemblyman Tim Eustace introduced legislation that would add women's conditions to the approved list of ailments for medical marijuana.

Eustace said he was inspired by the products introduced by Goldberg and Elisabeth.

"We have a lot of people leaving the state for treatment and hopefully this will change that," said Eustace.

h/t Forbes, Global News, Leafly, The Weed Blog.

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