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5 surprising ways CBD may help with period problems

Hot water bottles, chocolate and Netflix marathons are tried and tested period pain relievers. But what can you do if the ibuprofen doesn’t do the rest? 

CBD could help to control the pain and a few other unpleasant time-of-the-month troubles.

We look at 5 surprising ways CBD could help with period problems.

1. Pain relief

Painful periods are very common as many women have some pain in their lower abdomen during their periods.

But some have pain that’s so severe it affects their daily activities and leads to time off work. This is made worse by conditions such as endometriosis or adenomyosis.

CBD communicates with the endocannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system, triggering the pathways responsible for reducing pain and inflammation.

While there haven’t been any direct studies on the effectiveness of CBD in easing period pain, some are currently ongoing into conditions such as endometriosis, as well as chronic pain.

A review in 2018 assessed how well CBD could relieve cancer pain, neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia.

Based on these studies, researchers concluded that it could be effective at overall pain management with potentially no side effects.

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Read more about CBD and women’s pain relief

2. Skin saver

Just before your period starts, estrogen and progesterone levels drop. This triggers the sebaceous glands to secrete more sebum, an oily substance that covers the skin.

While sebum protects our skin from the outside world, too much of this can produce breakouts and clogged pores. It mixes with dead skin cells, dirt and becomes trapped in pores, leading to spots.

A study examining the effect on human sebocytes in 2014 found that CBD may prevent cells from creating too much of the oily substance.

The study also showed that CBD triggered an anti-inflammatory response in the cells, prevenings inflammatory cytokines from activating.

Reducing cytokines may lead to a reduction in breakouts and prevent acne. 

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3. Anxiety reduction

Hormones control and regulate the body as well our mental health. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) interferes with that balance and can trigger anxiety and depression spikes around the time of your period.

PMS is defined as a combination of both physical and psychiatric symptoms that occur after the ovulation phase of the menstrual cycle and ends after a period lasting approximately two weeks. 

CBD is thought to intact with CB1 an CB2 receptors which are found in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.

The cannabinoid is thought to affect serotonin signals. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which plays an important role in mental health.

Although there are no studies on CBD and PMS, there are studies on its effect on generalised anxiety disorder.

In a 2015 rodent study, CBD decreased in the behavioural signs of anxiety and reduced heart rate.

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4. Back pain

An excess of prostaglandins causes dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation. Heavy contractions can lead to lower back pain as pain radiates from the lower abdomen into the lower back. 

Topical balms or lotions may help by relieving the inflammation which can cause back pain.

A 2017 study in the journal Pain showed that a locally-applied balm reduced joint inflammation and prevented pain associated with arthritis. 

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5. Improved sleep

Sleep issues are a common side-effect of PMS due to changing hormonal levels about three to six days before starting a period.

This may cause problems with falling asleep and increase sleep interruptions due to melatonin production and body temperature changes.

Progesterone which increases after ovulation increases body temperature which can cause fragmented sleep.

Research published in 2019 examined whether CBD could improve sleep and reduce anxiety.

The study involved 72 participants with 47 experiencing anxiety and 25 suffering with poor sleep. The subjects were given 25 milligrams in capsule form daily.

After the first month, 79.2% of the patients recorded lower anxiety and 66.7% reported better sleep.

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