Having researched CBD and perimenopause extensively, we're more than familiar with the players here.
Perimenopause is essentially a 2-3 year period with huge fluxes in estradiol and low progesterone.
My story is here on that front but more practical questions come up often.
Can I take CBD during my period?
There is so much confusion on what CBD is and does that simple questions like this often send women for a loop.
Let's dive into it!
We'll look at these topics:
- What does CBD do to periods
- Can I take CBD during my period
- Does CBD help with PMS
- Can CBD help with PMS cramping
- Can CBD help with PMS Mood changes
- Can CBD help with PMS and weight gain and bloating
- Can CBD help with irregular or late periods
- What's the best CBD dosage for periods and PMS
- What's the best CBD for period cramping and PMS
Let's get started...we only have 28 days.
What does CBD do to periods
We'll get into benefits for cramping and other PMS symptoms below but first, the basics.
CBD works within the endocannabinoid system which we all have.
It's tasked with balancing other key systems:
- Nervous system - neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, etc
- Immune system - inflammatory response (really important for pain and cramping)
- Endocrine system - Hormones!!!
Ding ding ding on that last one.
Our menstrual period is governed by steroidal hormones like:
- Estrogen (estradiol especially - E2)
- FSH and LH (which trigger estrogen release)
So...first question...does the endocannabinoid system have anything to do with this system?
In fact, new research is pointing to a complex and very involved interaction between the two.
As researchers put it:
There is a complex interplay between the ECS and the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, and intricate crosstalk between the ECS and steroid hormone production and secretion.
Those steroid hormones are the main drivers of our cycles!
Think of our menstrual cycle as a cascade.
At the top, a hormone called GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) starts the ball rolling.
It produces LH and FSH which then increase or reduce the worker hormones estradiol and progesterone.
Collectively termed gonadotropic hormones (or gonadotropins), FSH and LH regulate the growth and development of the follicle and oocyte and stimulate the ovaries to secrete the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Okay...we have the players.
It's easy to get lost in the weeds (no pun intended) with these very complicated systems so we'll try to drill down to where CBD might affect the cycle and period.
There are two key players in the endocannabinoid system we'll look at tied to our cycle:
Anandamide is our so-called "bliss" molecule named after the Hindu Goddess of Bliss, Anand
FAAH breaks down anandamide. (see FAAH and the woman who can't feel pain, anxiety, or depression).
Anandamide is intimately tied to our period:
Peak plasma AEA occurred at ovulation and positively correlated with estradiol and gonadotrophin levels suggesting that these may be involved in the regulation of AEA levels.
Inversely, FAAH is as well since Anandamide is higher when it is lower (they oppose each other in this way).
Our first question is whether CBD interferes with the hormones.
We have to start with GnRH since it's the precursor to all of this (really pregnenolone further upstream but we'll leave preg to this review here).
First, THC is shown to reduce GnRH:
Injections of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) over 10 days can decrease hypothalamic GnRH concentrations in a dose-dependent manner.
Some of this effect may "normalize" over time but make sure to understand how CBD protects against THC issues here.
In fact, it's known that women who use cannabis have less success trying to get pregnant than non-users...even for IVF.
This same dampening effect from THC occurs with testosterone for men as well.
This makes sense when you realize that THC acts like Anandamide in the body.
It fits into the same lock and stimulates that activity.
The net effect of this extra stimulation:
This, in turn, decreases GnRH release to make for less FSH and LH release.
CBD generally counters many of the effects of THC in the body so what about GnRH?
Amazingly, we had difficulty getting hard and exact research on CBD's effects for GnRH, LH, FSH, etc.
It's only women after all (sarc).
Feels very reminiscent of the lack of information on perimenopause (see perimenopause versus menopause).
Anyway...what we did find was this.
At the end of all this cascade is ultimately estrogen which is key to the monthly cycle.
Interesting, cannabis smoke significantly affected estrogen levels but CBD did not:
MSC stimulated the estrogenicity related to the ER-mediated pathway, while neither THC, CBD, nor CBN did.
MSC is a marijuana smoke condensate.
As for testosterone, we see this effect:
Chronic THC, 2 mg/kg, but not CBD, evoked the most dramatic decrease in testicular enzyme activity.
While on the topic of testosterone, sperm is adversely affected by cannabis and THC:
Interestingly, it appears as if THC and CBN, but not CBD, leads to more morphological abnormalities.
The net net of this is:
- THC appears to reduce and interfere with hormones tied to our cycle
- CBD does not appear to affect this highly choreographed dance.
This makes sense.
The CB1 receptor appears to be the one that's highly involved in the process behind the period.
And it starts at the top:
Thus, stimulation of hypothalamic CB1 results in a reduction in the release of GnRH, preventing anterior pituitary stimulation.
- Anandamide operates primarily via this CB1 receptor.
- THC also acts on this (hence the interruption of our cycle)
What about CBD?
It doesn't directly plug into the CB receptor.
It acts as a dampener when activity is too high.
Otherwise, you would see direct increases or decreases in the steroidal hormones above.
This is the beauty of CBD...it's a balancer by nature...hence we don't see the overdoses.
Sorry...we went down deep but it's important to get the lay of the land and really look at the research.
Let's move to practical questions.
Can I take CBD during my period
There is no research showing a downside to taking CBD for PMS or during your period.
We looked at the primary hormones above which govern your cycle.
THC does show issues in terms of the entire menstrual and reproduction process so be careful.
It acts like Anandamide which has its hands on many if not all levers of our monthly cycle such as:
Furthermore, THC has also been shown to cause a dose-dependent inhibition of the FSH-stimulated accumulation of P and E in ovarian granulosa cells.
FSH is an initiator. P is progesterone. E is estrogen. P and E are primarily made in the ovaries until perimenopause.
Estrogen spikes before your period and progesterone spikes after (release of egg actually triggers it).
That's just the period piece. If you're looking to conceive, THC has issues there as well.
Again, the high THC product in the marketplace now is not great for women!
As for CBD, it doesn't directly plug into CB1 receptors like Anandamide so we don't see these effects.
All the research we could find was on cannabis with THC or THC specifically.
We look forward to further research but for now, there doesn't appear to be a detriment to using CBD during a period or for PMS.
If CBD doesn't directly push steroidal hormones up or down, what does it do for the period.
What does CBD do to periods
Let's take our cues from situations where hormones are out of balance and lead to diseases.
PCOS comes to mind!
Short for the polycystic ovarian syndrome, this is an example where the very choreographed hormonal dance above is performed by 2nd graders.
It leads to a range of issues.
It hits approximately 10% of women in reproductive years (another clue!).
A domino effect in issues with metabolism trigger further problems with hormones:
Increased adiposity leads to an increase in serum leptin, which blocks LH secretion , leading to infertility and anovulation.
Adiposity just means making more fat.
We don't have studies on CBD for the mechanism of PCOS but we also don't see this as a result of using CBD!
Meaning, if CBD were skewing our hormone balance and process during the menstrual cycle and period, we would expect to see irregularities especially with higher levels of CBD.
That doesn't bear out in research, with Reddit users, or with our own clients.
Again, since CBD operates as a constraining agent on CB1 activity (where Anandamide and THC operate), this isn't surprising to us and it matches other more researched pathways.
Why women's issues are last to be studied is….well….expected.
There is one area we can look at with more research….PMS.
Does CBD help with PMS
This actually requires a full review which we'll get to.
Let's look at some of the key players in our PMS grudge match.
- PMS cramping
- PMS Mood changes
- PMS and Weight gain and bloating
Look...perimenopause is just an extended cycle with peaks and drops in estrogen while progesterone drops.
My perimenopause story is here but we go deep into how estrogen flux affects those systems.
Let's look at perimenopause lite. PMS.
CBD and PMS cramping
First, what's driving cramping and pain associated with PMS.
Prostaglandins are the main culprit behind pain and cramping during PMS.
One of the well-known mechanisms for dysmenorrhea is the elevated release of prostaglandins into the uterine tissue once the menstruation begins. These metabolites increase vasoconstriction and myometrial contractions causing uterine ischemia and pain.
Prostaglandins are made via the COX pathway which you're probably familiar with from NSAIDs like Advil, Motrin, Tylenol, and even Celebrex.
Check out CBD and Tylenol to learn about the interesting connection there.
So...what about CBD and prostaglandins and/or COX2 levels?
Let's jump right to the chase:
A single dose of cannabidiol reduced edema in a dose-dependent fashion and subsequent daily doses caused further time- and dose-related reductions. There were decreases in PGE2 plasma levels, tissue COX activity, production of oxygen-derived free radicals, and NO after three doses of cannabidiol.
That's across the board for what we're interested in.
Again, check out CBD and perimenopause pain to understand the hormone effect.
CBD and PMS Mood Changes
Here's what most people don't understand.
Estrogen directly controls the creation and destruction of serotonin, our "feel-good" neurotransmitter.
Does PMS ever feel like a discount version of the flu to you?
There's good reason.
When we're sick, our body naturally blocks the creation of tryptophan to starve out the bacteria or virus from their basic building block.
That immediately affects our mood and energy levels.
During PMS, estrogen can plummet prior to our period.
What does CBD do for serotonin levels?
Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain.
The most important word in that statement is "modulates".
Not boosts or drops. Serotonin is very important across a range of pathways in the body including mood.
CBD for PMS weight gain and bloating
This gets to the bottom of estrogen's effect there.
Estrogen and progesterone exposure have important effects on both body fluid regulation and cardiovascular function and both of these reproductive hormones impact blood pressure responses to sodium loads.
With PMS, it's usually more water retention than actual weight gain (although it feels equally crappy).
Of course, the hormones are directly tied to this effect:
The increase in GI symptoms around the time of menses and early menopause occurs at times of declining or low ovarian hormones, suggesting that estrogen and progesterone withdrawal may contribute either directly or indirectly.
There's a powerful player called vasopressin that governs water retention.
We can see its effects on blood pressure as well as PMS bloating.
We know from other research that CBD can drop blood pressure (in fact, it's a side effect).
What about PMS bloating specifically?
Here's the interesting connection.
Anandamide (our bliss molecule from above) governs water retention.
Estradiol governs anandamide during PMS and our cycle in general.
Work from other laboratories suggests that both anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol, released from the hypothalmus, may modulate the release of hypophysial hormones, including vasopressin.
And CBD's effect on Anandamide (from studies on schizophrenia of all things):
Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.
Can CBD help with irregular or late periods
First, understand that the endocannabinoid system and its main actors (anandamide and 2-ag) are ALL OVER our menstrual cycle and reproduction itself.
That's why research is pointing to THC's effect on menstrual cycles, fertility, and all things reproductive!
THC acts as a substitute (addition really) for anandamide.
Acute administration of THC suppresses LH secretion. In detail, marijuana use during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle reduces 30% LH plasma levels, which remain unchanged during the follicular phase.
LH starts the ball rolling for estrogen production and is key to the timing of our cycle.
The effect of this in practical terms…
Other studies show increased anovulatory cycles and short luteal phases in chronic women smoker
Anovulatory is a period without the release of an egg. This also means that progesterone doesn't get released since the egg triggers that phase of our cycle.
Also, did you catch the "short phrase" part?
This is a highly choreographed dance of hormones and chemicals and we just threw in a Kesha bass drum with THC.
What about CBD?
We can't find studies on CBD affecting period cycles but we do know two things.
- CBD counters the effects of THC across a range of pathways
- CBD range-limits Anandamide
Think of it as the shocks in a car.
When it's too hard (anandamide levels too high or THC), it dampens the effect.
Technically, it's called a negative inverse agonist!
That's a very complicated word to say that it sends a message back to calm activity at the receptor (which anandamide and THC stimulate).
We look forward to further studies.
On to some practical questions.
What's the best CBD dosage for periods and PMS
There isn't clear research on this front yet.
A starting amount is usually 25-30 mg to test how your body responds.
- Sleep studies are showing benefit at 160 mg
- Peak neurogenesis (brain support and repair) are at 300 mg
Hormones are trickier and will likely be lower.
Peak CBD is 4-6 hours after taking it which coincides with meals.
We have lots of research on how many mg for anxiety (the mood aspect of PMS).
Everyone's system and situation are different so it's important to test to see where you see benefits.
Since the endocannabinoid system is so integral to every facet of reproduction, we want more research on CBD during pregnancy.
THC definitely has some issues there as you would expect from what we saw above.
There's clearer information on the best type of CBD for periods and PMS.
What's the best CBD for period cramping and PMS
Obviously, we don't want any THC and if a woman uses cannabis, they should make sure to have CBD to protect themselves.
A CBD product needs to have the following:
- Organically grown in the US at an FDA registered farm
- 3rd party tested
- CO2 extracted
- No THC
- No Solvents
- No Pesticides
- No Heavy Metals
- No Mold
- No Bacteria
Those are the basics and we test twice.
Here's where we differ from 90% of the market.
Everyone out there is pushing full spectrum CBD stating that it's "better".
Where's the research?
Most of this is a salesy spin until they show us research which, hopefully obvious, is very important to our decisions.
Here's the deal…
40-60% of the population have allergy/histamine issues and all that plant material will likely not feel well.
Women are especially hit hard with this.
Our body's histamine response is directly tied to our cycle!
The perimenstrual allergies are about the cyclic abundance of the hormone causing a cyclic expression of allergic symptoms.
Look at our reviews.
Women who tried full-spectrum had bad reactions and then found our CBD Isolate.
That's how we got started to begin with (our story is here).
Check out CBD isolate versus full spectrum to really get into it.
Be well. Be informed. Let's take care of each other.
Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!
The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.