May 28, 2022

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CBD for menstrual cramps: Options, considerations, and alternatives

7 min read

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CBD products may reduce inflammation and help with menstrual cramps. Alternative treatments include pain relievers, heat therapy, or light exercise.

Menstrual cramps are typically common, with approximately 75% of women experiencing cramps during their periods.

CBD products are becoming an increasingly popular option for pain relief. Research on CBD’s effectiveness for pain relief is still limited, but some studies show that CBD might reduce inflammation. As a result, CBD products may benefit people who experience menstrual cramps during their periods.

This article explains what menstrual pain is, how CBD might help, and lists a range of products a person may wish to consider when trying to treat their menstrual cramps at home.

Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

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Menstrual pain is also called period pain or dysmenorrhea.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name of a group of symptoms that may start a week or two before a person gets their period.

Hormonal changes may cause menstrual pain symptoms to begin, but an exact cause for menstrual pain is currently unknown.

Menstrual pain can be mild, but some people experience pain severe enough to interfere with their daily lives. A 2021 research review showed that 16–91% of women of reproductive age experience menstrual pain, with 2–29% of women experiencing severe pain.

The review above lists the following as symptoms of menstrual pain:

Learn more about how menstruation affects bowel movements.

A person may also experience headaches, irritability, and tiredness as part of menstrual pain.

A 2019 review of studies into CBD as a treatment for PMS showed that cannabis may be helpful with chronic and acute pain relief, and cannabis and CBD may provide relief for similar symptoms.

Additionally, a 2020 research review concluded that it is not possible to definitively state that CBD is solely responsible for reducing pain symptoms, as many products used in studies on this subject contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

While there are limited data focusing specifically on using CBD for menstrual cramps, CBD’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties may help provide relief, according to a 2015 animal study with rats.

Learn more about pain relief for menstrual cramps.

Experts typically recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for menstrual cramps, according to a 2019 review. However, the review also mentions that NSAIDs can increase the risk of:

Learn more about heart attack symptoms in females.

Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved one CBD product to date, a prescription medication called Epidiolex, for use to treat epilepsy. However, the FDA approves no other CBD products for use to treat health conditions.

  • Tinctures: People will usually take CBD tinctures orally with a dropper. They can put drops of CBD tincture under their tongues or add the tincture to drinks. A person should always follow the instructions on the product and be mindful of the dosage they use. Learn more about CBD tinctures.
  • Topicals: Topical CBD products include balms, creams, and lotions. A person can apply these products directly to their skin, which may provide targeted pain relief for menstrual cramps. An individual may find it more difficult to measure the dosage with a topical CBD product. A person may also wish to do a patch test before using topical CBD products across wide areas of their body to see if any skin reactions occur.
  • Capsules or pills: People take CBD capsules and pills orally. A person will be able to measure the dosage more easily with a CBD capsule or pill. Learn more about CBD dosages.
  • Gummies: There are many CBD gummy products available on the market that come in a wide range of flavors. Learn more about CBD gummies.
  • Patches: A person applies CBD patches directly onto their skin. They can choose where they apply the patch so they can target a specific area of pain. Some patches can deliver CBD through the skin for several days before a person needs to replace the patch. Learn more about CBD patches for pain.

CBD also comes in edibles, sprays, and vaping liquid.

Learn more about the different types of CBD.

Read our guide on buying CBD here.

A person can consider the following CBD products that may help with their menstrual cramps.

Best CBD tincture: CBDMD Full Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture Chocolate Mint

To use this product, a person can mix it with a drink or place drops under their tongue.

The manufacturer’s website says this product promotes calm, enhances recovery from workouts, and promotes whole-body wellness.

A 30-milliliter (ml) bottle is available in strengths of 750 milligrams (mg), 1,500 mg, and 3,000 mg CBD.

The company states that, as a full-spectrum CBD product consisting of non-GMO America-grown hemp, this tincture contains a small amount of THC.

Prices range from $59.99–129.99.

Best for long-term effects: Pure Kana 60 mg Transdermal Patch

This product is a THC-free adhesive patch that a person applies directly to their skin. The company recommends applying the patch to a “soft tissue” area, and states that the lower abdomen is a common area users apply the patch to. As such, these patches may be suitable for people experiencing menstrual cramps.

The company states that the patches are easy to apply, waterproof, and nonirritating. Once applied, the CBD remains active for up to 96 hours.

This PureKana product uses 60 mg of full-spectrum CBD per patch, along with aloe vera and essential oils.

One patch costs $17.99.

Best CBD gummies: PlusCBD CBD Oil Gummies 10 mg Cherry Mango

These gummies come in two flavors, Cherry Mango and Citrus Punch.

The company claims these CBD gummies are vegan, organic, and gluten-free.

Each gummy contains 10 mg of full-spectrum CBD. This means a person can always know how much CBD they take.

The manufacturer states that the CBD within these gummies comes from EU-certified hemp seeds and undergoes testing from a third-party lab.

The manufacturer’s website states that, in addition to CBD, these extra-strength gummies contain other cannabinoids, terpenes, and fatty acids that may enhance the product’s effectiveness. As a full-spectrum product, these gummies contain a small amount of THC.

Prices range from $27.99 for 30 gummies to $44.99 for 60 gummies.

According to a 2019 research review, people who experience menstrual pain often opt for self-care methods to alleviate their symptoms. This can include using over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

In the review above, participants found that low intensity exercises, such as stretching and yoga, provided large menstrual pain reductions and were slightly more effective than pain relief medication. Heat therapy, such as a heating pad or a hot water bottle, also reduced menstrual pain.

However, this review also highlighted that the studies in it had limitations. They had little to no reporting on adverse effects of treatments, wide differences in administering treatments, and potential bias occurring in studies that relied on participants self-reporting on pain levels and improvements.

Below are some common questions and answers about CBD for menstrual cramps.

Is CBD good for menstrual cramps?

There is little evidence to prove that CBD is effective for menstrual cramps, but some studies found that CBD reduced inflammation. In a 2019 study, participants reported that CBD oil was most effective at reducing pain caused by endometriosis.

For more information and resources on endometriosis, please visit our dedicated hub.

Can I put CBD oil on my tampon?

Do not put CBD oil on a tampon and insert it in the vagina. Doing so could upset the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria and acids in the vagina. This could result in irritation and infection.

Does CBD stop periods?

No. Hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, rise and fall naturally throughout the month. This movement in hormone levels controls a person’s menstrual cycle. CBD does not influence this natural cycle.

Learn more about how to stop or delay your period.

How much CBD should I take for menstrual cramps?

There are no official guidelines on correct CBD dosages, as the FDA does not regulate CBD products. A person should follow the package instructions on their CBD product.

They can consider starting at a low dose and gradually increasing it to see whether they tolerate the CBD product well and whether it improves their menstrual cramps.

A person should contact a doctor to discuss appropriate dosages before taking any new CBD product.

Menstrual cramps affect numerous people throughout their lives. Popular home treatments for menstrual cramps include light exercise and OTC pain medication. However, CBD products are becoming increasingly popular and may help people experiencing menstrual pain.

The research on the effectiveness of CBD for pain is still limited. A person should be aware that the FDA does not currently regulate CBD products, and no CBD products have approval for use as pain relief.

If a person is interested in using CBD for their menstrual cramps, they may wish to consider contacting a doctor to discuss whether these products are right for them.

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