Every woman’s body and cycle is unique, with each new moon phase, your body naturally flushes out its unused endometrial tissue in preparation for a new cycle. It is also a time that reminds you of your ability to both create and nurture life into existence. This is great and should equally make you feel good, right?
Unfortunately, not many women feel enthusiastic about their new moon phase. The bleeding, cramps, nausea, bloating, and mood changes are not things to make us feel our best. It’s that time of the month again- when you have to bring yourself to swallow painkillers, call into work sick, and stay curled up in bed with a heating pad on your stomach.
If this sounds like your monthly routine and you’re worried, the truth is, you aren’t alone in this. Studies have shown that the highest reason for absenteeism from schoolwork in women of reproductive age group is menses. Up to 90% of women suffer from a painful period, and about 20% have severe pains affecting their productivity and quality of life. Here is a deeper understanding.
Your Moon Cycle
Your uterus prepares itself diligently throughout the month, ready to catch an embryo for implantation. It goes through a series of events, driven by some chemical messengers. During each cycle, one of your ova matures and is released. The walls lining your uterus builds-up, getting ready to host its guest, but it is shed through the vagina if this doesn’t happen.
In this process, some chemical substances called prostaglandin are secreted; they help contract the uterus and expel its unused endometrial tissue, resulting in pain. These substances also induce inflammation and increase the sensitivity of pain perceiving nerves reduce blood flow to the endometrium, worsening pain.
The knowledge of prostaglandins being central to the cause of pain and other unpleasant symptoms during menstruation has led to various interventions. This can range from natural remedies such as heating pads, herbs to Ibuprofen and oral contraceptive pills.
Researchers dig deep into old herbal remedies that have worked for years, renewing them and reminding us what they can offer; an example is the Cannabinoid (CBD).
Get Back to the Roots: Go Natural
CBD is a plant-derived molecule, one of the most known phytochemicals found in the cannabis plant, known as phytocannabinoid.
Because of its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, relaxing muscle attributes, more and more people have reported CBD as their greatest companion during menses. This bolsters the fact that it plays a vital role in our moon cycle and combats the central cause of pain: prostaglandin.
The body enzymes that produce prostaglandin are called cyclo-oxygenase (COX); they are basically of two types (COX 1 & COX 2). Inhibiting these enzymes decreases prostaglandin secretion, affecting different ways it contributes to pain. CBD works on this principle; it inhibits COX 2 enzyme, therefore, reducing inflammation. NSAIDs work similarly; however, they inhibit COX 1 over COX 2, which accounts for their association with stomach discomfort.
CBD also activates the PPAR Y gene, which combats inflammation by increasing the body’s production of antioxidants and reducing inflammatory molecules.
Maintaining Homeostasis; the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
Cannabinoids aren’t only found in plants like many suppose; the human body also manufactures its form of cannabinoids called endocannabinoids; they are chemical messengers of the ECS, just like dopamine and serotonin are to the nervous system. These molecules, “endocannabinoids,” act on their receptors in various parts of the body, mediating several functions. Its highest concentration is in the brain and immune system. To a large extent, they are also found in the uterus and are essential for the healthy function of the reproductive tract. Studies have shown that they may also play a role in managing diseases like Endometriosis. People who suffer from these conditions have testified to find relief on commencement of CBD.
Another vital role ECS plays during your menses is that CBD activates its receptors in the Nervous System, digestive tract and Immune system. This helps relieve anxiety, elevate your mood, aid digestion, prevent constipation and stomach upset; it also prevents the release of inflammatory molecules.
Switching Off Pain Signaling (Neurotransmitters)
During your period, some nerves are highly sensitized to pain by the inflammation process, CBD plays a role in desensitizing such nerves, switching off these pain signals. Furthermore, it helps to target receptors such as TRPV 1, CB 1, which decrease sensation to pain and spread its soothing effect to surrounding nerves.
CBD helps relax smooth muscles and decrease tension, including the muscles of your uterus whose contraction causes pain. It also relaxes blood vessels, increasing blood flow to oxygen-starved cells- reducing pain.
Using CBD During Your Cycle
There are many ways you can include CBD in your routine, such as oil in your morning smoothies or tea, topicals, ingestibles or CBD-infused pads. Its anti-inflammatory property helps to relieve pain, it’s action on the Endocannabinoid system also plays an important role in reducing anxiety, nausea, and bloatedness.
Adding CBD to supplement your menstrual cycle may offer you that much-desired relief and comfort so that you can honor and celebrate your body instead of bearing pain.
Dysmenorrhea (practice essentials, background, pathophysiology) Medscape
French, “Dysmenorrhea,” American Family Physician, vol. 71, p. 285, 2005.
Stages of the Menstrual Cycle (Healthline)