CBD and hemp for PMS and menstrual cramps

CBD can help

The female menstrual cycle is an essential part of human reproduction and as such should be valued accordingly. During menstruation, the body renews the lining of the uterus. The old mucous membrane - in which no egg has nested - is shed. So, the uterine muscles begin to contract shortly before menstruation. This causes the newly formed vessels in the uterus to constrict spastically to cut off the blood supply. As a result, parts of the uterine lining die and are excreted as viscous blood.

To this day, bizarre myths and prejudices surround the menstrual cycle. These have led to many women or menstruating people feeling uncomfortable talking about their periods. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was still assumed that the excreted blood was infectious, and that "impure" women should therefore be excluded from certain areas of society. It was only with the advancement of medical research and the realisation of its biological significance that people began to look more closely at the physical and psychological changes that occur with the monthly hormonal changes.

PMS - the days before the days

Leider geht der Zyklus für viele Betroffene mit unangenehmen Begleiterscheinungen einher. Diese beginnen oft schon Tage oder sogar Wochen vor der eigentlichen Monatsblutung. In der zweiten Zyklushälfte, ein bis zwei Wochen vor Beginn der Periode, haben viele Frauen mit Symptomen zu tun, die in der Medizin als prämenstruelles Syndrom (PMS) zusammengefasst werden. Dabei können die Beschwerden sehr unterschiedlich ausfallen: Unterleibskrämpfe, Rücken- und Kopfschmerzen, Schwindel, Appetitlosigkeit oder Heißhunger, Verdauungsprobleme, Verspannungen, aber auch psychische Veränderungen wie Schlaflosigkeit, Gereiztheit, Angstzustände, Antriebslosigkeit oder depressive Verstimmungen und ein vermindertes Selbstwertgefühl können dazu zählen. Meist sind die Symptome wenige Tage vor Beginn der Periode am schlimmsten.

Almost every woman experiences recurrent PMS symptoms. Why they are particularly severe in some women and what the exact causes are, however, have not yet been fully explained. In addition to hormonal fluctuations, it is also suspected that a genetic predisposition and a serotonin deficiency can be co-triggers of premenstrual syndrome. According to recent studies, obesity can also have a negative influence on the intensity of the symptoms. This is because obesity can change the hormonal balance in such a way that the production of male hormones, which are necessary in the second half of the cycle, is suppressed.

Because of the wide range of symptoms, it is not easy to diagnose PMS as such. The repeated occurrence before the start of the period is the main indication. However, it may be necessary to exclude other diseases as the cause of the symptoms.

The period

Menstruation itself is also often accompanied by complaints such as cramps and pain. Generally, a distinction is made between two types of period discomfort. The primary form is the most common, begins one to two days before the period and can last two to four days. The exact causes of cramps and pain cannot be determined. The symptoms usually begin during puberty and can accompany the affected person in varying intensity until the menopause. The cause of the second type of period discomfort lies in diseases such as endometriosis or inflammation of the uterus. It usually occurs later in life and additional medical advice should be sought here.

Since the physical suffering and the psychological stress before and during the period are very different, the treatment approaches are also very different. There is a range of over-the-counter and prescription remedies that are supposed to provide relief. Many women turn to over-the-counter painkillers or herbal preparations such as lady's mantle, St. John's wort or monk's pepper in order to be able to continue to "function". The demand is increasing. For example, the number of people who have used over-the-counter preparations for PPP and menstrual cramps in the past three months has risen from 1.83 million in 2014 to 2.4 million in 2018.

The contraceptive pill is also repeatedly prescribed for severe menstrual cramps. However, these preparations tend to combat the symptoms rather than providing lasting relief. The pill in particular also has numerous side effects and is therefore increasingly criticised in general.

The importance of nutrition for PMS and menstrual cramps

But it doesn't always have to be medication. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, women can also help to make the days of the period and the period itself less painful and stressful. This includes exercising regularly and getting enough sleep, abstaining from alcohol as much as possible and doing relaxation exercises. In addition, a healthy diet can contribute to greater well-being and fewer period complaints. Even though it is not easy to resist cravings for crisps and chocolate - which are also part of PMS - a healthy and balanced diet pays off.

Especially calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D can help prevent menstrual cramps. Except for vitamin D, hemp seeds contain significant amounts of all the nutrients just mentioned. Regular consumption in muesli, soup or as a topping for various dishes is therefore an excellent way to ensure intake. Hemp seeds - peeled or unpeeled- are also delicious and can be used in many ways in the kitchen.

Hemp seeds as a helper

Es gibt auch Hinweise darauf, dass eine vegane Ernährung die PMS-Symptome verbessern kann. Dies liegt zum einen daran, dass durch eine pflanzliche Ernährung Entzündungsreaktionen im Körper gebremst werden. Verantwortlich dafür ist der hohe Anteil an Antioxidantien und anderen Pflanzenstoffen, die Veganer/innen vermehrt zu sich nehmen. In einer Studie aus dem Jahr 2000 wurden Frauen untersucht, die entweder eine vegane und fettarme Ernährung befolgten oder ihre normalen Essgewohnheiten fortsetzen. Nach einer Weile sollten die Gruppen tauschen. Die Ergebnisse waren jedoch so überzeugend, dass einige Teilnehmerinnen sich weigerten zu ihrer vorher normalen Ernährung zurückzukehren, obwohl der Studienverlauf dies zu Vergleichszwecken vorgab. Die vegane und fettarme Ernährung hatte nämlich dazu geführt, dass die Intensität von Periodenschmerzen wesentlich zurück ging. Gleiches galt für mit PMS verbundene Stimmungsschwankungen.

This is where hemp seeds come into play again. They are ideal as an ingredient in a vegan diet because they are rich in protein and can be grown in native soil. Another ingredient that can also have a positive effect on PMS symptoms. Is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). A 2011 study was able to show that the intake of unsaturated fatty acids, including GLA, could alleviate PMS symptoms. About 4 percent GLA is contained in hemp seed oil. This makes hemp one of the GLA-rich foods. The fatty acid inhibits the release of pro-inflammatory substances in the body. Gamma-linolenic acid is produced by the body itself. However, inflammations and metabolic disorders can reduce the amount produced or bring production to a complete standstill. The consumption of hemp seeds or hemp seed oil can counteract a GLA deficiency and thus increase well-being.

Does CBD help with PMS and menstrual cramps?

Significant studies on the use of CBD for PMS and menstrual cramps are largely lacking. However, a study from 2019 suggests that the cannabinoid could certainly be considered as a herbal alternative. The reason: there are already some studies that could show that CBD can alleviate symptoms such as pain, inflammation, but also anxiety and depressive moods or insomnia, i.e. symptoms that menstruators also encounter time and again.

So there is reason for hope for those affected. While menstrual products with CBD are still a long time coming in Europe, the market for CBD and even THC-containing preparations is flourishing in the USA. In addition to oral CBD drops or capsules, suppositories are increasingly being used to provide local relaxation and pain relief. In this country, too, there are more and more reports from menstruators who swear by the positive effect of CBD on PMS and menstrual cramps. However, these anecdotal reports should not hide the fact that there is still a lack of scientific studies to clearly prove the effect and provide standardised dosage information. Severe complaints should always be medically clarified in order to recognise and, if necessary, treat diseases.