From suppositories and patches to roll-ons, creams, and salves, there’s no shortage of PMS-related CBD products for sale. And it makes sense! With symptoms like headaches, heightened depression and anxiety, joint pain, insomnia, and digestive distress, PMS is certainly no walk in the park. According to Mayo Clinic, about 3 out of 4 women have experienced some sort of PMS — and many women deal with a combination of the symptoms above every single month.
But does CBD really pack a punch against PMS? And if so, how does it work with our hormones? We sat down with Dr. Sara DeFrancesco, a naturopathic doctor and expert on all things cannabis, to find out. Here’s what she had to say:
CBD and hormone health
“CBD can definitely be helpful for PMS,” says DeFrancesco, who recommends CBD oil to her patients for the irritability and anxiety that can pop up in the last days of their menstrual cycle. “CBD has an amazing effect on the brain and inflammation throughout the body, so it can actually calm stress and bring pain down,” she explains.
There’s a well-established connection between stress and hormone imbalance; for example, it’s one of the reasons for abnormal menstruation and also plays an important role in PCOS, which is the most common hormone disorder in women. And according to DeFrancesco, if a woman’s PMS symptoms are related to stress — which is at least partly true for most women — CBD can be particularly effective. “CBD works on our brains and our stress levels, which affect how we feel daily” she explains.
But is there a direct connection between CBD and hormone health? “We don’t really have that information yet,” she says. So while there may be a link between the endocannabinoid system and PMS, at this point we just don’t know; CBD may just improve PMS symptoms by way of quelling anxiety, improving sleep, reducing inflammation and acting on the body in other beneficial ways.
CBD and PMS
If you’re looking to try CBD for PMS, it can be hard to know where to begin. DeFrancesco recommends avoiding edibles for two reasons. First, they have lower absorbability than sublingual tinctures and second, many of them contain sugar, which can be counterproductive. “You don’t want 5 mg of CBD in a chocolate bar with sugar in it. That’s just going to disrupt your hormones. There’s a CBD washing of junk food going on and it’s a real bummer,” she explains.
Her favorite way to use CBD for PMS is a sublingual tincture that is alcohol- or oil-based. “Sublingual CBD is an amazing way to control dosage and experiment,” she says. There’s one exception, however. “Cramping it’s all about contraction in the muscle,” she says, so she recommends using a topical product — like Dr. Kerklaan PMS Cream ($55.25) or this Papa and Barkley Hemp Balm ($30) — directly on the area.
How to use CBD for PMS
Now that we know what kind of CBD to use for PMS, the question of how to use it still remains. DeFrancesco recommends using it preventatively, for about 30 to 60 days. “While it can help acutely it’s really about balancing the system. It’s a long-term tonic,” she explains. Some of her patients notice results in a day and for others, it takes some time. If you’re concerned about your wallet, “you can also take it leading up to or during your period for relief,” she says.
Before we go, DeFrancesco reminds us that while CBD is an excellent tool against PMS, we should also be asking why the hormone imbalance is occurring in the first place: “If it's happening every month and getting worse, seek out a doctor and find out what the root cause of your PMS is.”
It’s amazing that so many women are motivated enough to take control of their own health, there’s also a point when you need to enlist the help of a trained professional. As she explains it: “If you’re using CBD and things aren’t resolving then it’s probably something that’s beyond the endocannabinoid system.”
Written By: Gretchen Lidicker