The male species don’t know how good they have it. As well as avoiding the excruciating pain that comes with the ‘miracle of childbirth,’ they get to swerve a litany of painful issues that only impact women. Any attempt at a discussion about the ‘period’ with men often brings about an awkward silence and an earnest desire to change the subject to just about anything else.
Premenstrual syndrome, better known as PMS, brings about a feeling of dread amongst women. It is a term used to describe a wide range of recurring symptoms that occur from several days to two weeks before your period.
While the symptoms can happen at any time between puberty and the menopause, it usually starts becoming a major issue from your late 20s onward. The list of potential symptoms is lengthy, as is their severity. There are numerous medications on the market to treat PMS, but an increasing number of women are turning to the cannabis plant for relief.
What Is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome is best described as a combination of emotional and physical problems that affect women after ovulation and before the beginning of their menstrual period. According to research, it may happen because estrogen and progesterone levels fall significantly when you’re not pregnant after ovulation. The symptoms ease off or disappear a few days after the period once your hormone levels begin to rise once more.
Some females escape the horrors of PMS, but for millions of others around the world, the symptoms can be so severe that their daily lives are affected.
If the symptoms are extreme, it could be a sign of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a condition that affects fewer than 5% of females of childbearing age.
PMS may occur more frequently in women with a family history of depression, high levels of stress, or a personal history of depression or postpartum depression. Also, if your mother or sister suffer from PMS symptoms, you are more likely to follow suit.
There are up to 150 behavioral or physical symptoms associated with PMS, although for most women the list is restricted to a small fraction of that amount. Common PMS symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Breast pain
- Stomach pain or bloating
- Fatigue or difficulty sleeping
- Changes in sex drive or appetite
- A feeling of irritability, anxiousness, or sadness
- Greasy hair or acne
- Cravings for certain foods
The sudden rise and fall of hormones is the most likely cause of PMS symptoms. This process influences brain chemicals such as serotonin; which is known to have a major impact on mood. As some women are more sensitive to changes in their hormone levels, it would explain why they are more susceptible to PMS symptoms.
There is a suggestion that calcium plays a role in PMS. A double-blind, randomized clinical trial by Shobeiri et al., published in Obstetrics & Gynecology Science in January 2017, studied the effects of calcium on PMS. It concluded that treatment with calcium supplements is an effective way to reduce mood disorders during PMS. However, scientists are not sure what the precise link is between calcium and PMS symptoms.
PMS Diagnosis & Available Treatments
There is no standardized PMS test. Instead, your physician will discuss your symptoms, including information on when they occur and their effect on your everyday life. You are likely to have the condition if your symptoms:
- Begin five days or less before your period for three consecutive menstrual cycles in a row.
- End in the first four days after your period starts.
- Prevent you from completing your daily tasks.
It is a good idea to track your symptoms and see how severe they are over a few months. Write them down and have them to hand discussing your issues with the doctor.
As far as treatments go, there are various over-the-counter painkillers such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen that may help reduce the pain you feel after your symptoms begin. There are also prescription medication options, such as:
- Antidepressants like SSRIs, which may relieve some of the emotional symptoms.
- Diuretics to reduce breast tenderness or bloating.
- Anti-anxiety medicine.
- Hormonal birth control to help with physical symptoms. The problem here is that these pills can make certain symptoms worse!
- Natural herbal remedies including Chasteberry, Maca, Black Cohosh, and Lemon Balm.
You may find relief from PMS symptoms by taking certain vitamins and minerals:
- Calcium: As discussed above, there seems to be a link between increased calcium and a reduction in PMS symptoms such as cravings, fatigue, depression, and mood swings. As well as using supplements, you can find calcium in foods and drinks such as cheese, milk, yogurt, and orange juice.
- Magnesium: There have been mixed results from studies that looked into magnesium as a way of helping to soothe PMS symptoms. Increasing your intake of leafy greens such as spinach, along with cereals and nuts, may help reduce PMS migraines.
- Vitamin B6: This vitamin may reduce the effect of PMS symptoms such as irritability, bloating, moodiness, and anxiety. You will find B6 in fish, poultry, fruit (barring citrus fruit) and potatoes.
- Omega-3 & Omega-6: A supplement of 1-2 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids could help reduce cramps. Good dietary sources include oily fish, nuts, and flaxseed.
There are also a few things you can do to relieve PMS symptoms at home, including:
- Getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep each night. A lack of sleep is strongly linked to depression.
- Engaging in regular aerobic exercise to alleviate symptoms such as fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
- Considering yoga, meditation, or a massage to cope with any stress you feel.
- Avoiding smoking tobacco cigarettes as they have been linked with heightened PMS symptoms.
- Avoiding caffeine, sugar, and salt as much as you can in the two weeks before your period.
Marijuana as a Medical Treatment for PMS
Dr. Julie Holland is an experienced psychopharmacology specialist who believes that marijuana is effective in the treatment of emotional and hormonal issues common amongst women. She discusses the use of weed and other drugs in her book ‘Moody Bitches.’ Holland believes that weed could be a viable solution to treating PMS symptoms such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, and irritability.
Inflammation and stress are connected, and it is our endocannabinoid system (ECS) that is the key to fighting both according to Holland. Our internal cannabinoid system should be able to create enough cannabis-like molecules to fight off the effects of stress and anxiety. The ‘bliss’ molecule, anandamide, helps combat the stress response and returns our nervous system to the state of homeostasis.
Ongoing research suggests that THC can help with our ability to handle stress, irritability, and mood swings. Meanwhile, CBD could help with anxiety.
The main issue is the lack of double-blind studies to support these theories due to the prohibition of marijuana.
It is fascinating to note that cannabis has been used to treat PMS symptoms for centuries. For instance, it is widely believed that Queen Victoria of England used hemp or marijuana to treat her severe menstrual cramps. While there isn’t much in the way of research into how weed helps PMS, there is a litany of studies into the effects of marijuana on the symptoms associated with PMS.
In 2011, Ethan Russo conducted preclinical research, which was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. In it, he found that THC could act as a muscle relaxant. In other words, women can use weed to calm the tense muscles they have during a period. While you can smoke or vape marijuana, it may be worth applying it topically to the affected area.
A study by Rhyne et al., published in the Pharmacotherapy journal in May 2016, looked at the effects of cannabis on the frequency of migraine headaches. The study involved 122 adults with migraine headaches who received an MMJ recommendation between January 2010 and September. Each volunteer had at least one follow up visit from a doctor. Overall, medical marijuana reduced the average instances of migraines by over half.
Another common PMS symptom is acne, as women can break out in the days before their period. A study by Olah et al., published in the Experimental Dermatology journal in September 2016, found that CBD had a positive effect on inflammation, and reduced instances of acne.
Any positive effects that you feel from marijuana is a combination of its cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Therefore, when choosing a marijuana strain to treat PMS symptoms, it isn’t always about the THC or CBD content.
5 Marijuana Best Strains for PMS
1 – Sour Diesel
Often called ‘Sour D,’ this sativa-dominant hybrid is believed to be a cross of Super Skunk and Chemdawg. Although its precise origins are a mystery, it was probably created in California in the 1990s.
With a THC level of 22% and just 0.2% CBD, it is not a marijuana strain to be messed with!
Sour Diesel is popular amongst recreational users because of the euphoric high it provides. It is praised as being an outstanding mood lifter and offers a mainly cerebral experience. While there are indica genetics in there, you are more likely to feel the uplifting sativa effects in a high that is said to last for up to five hours.
As far as PMS symptoms are concerned, Sour Diesel is high in pinene and beta-caryophyllene, which makes it ideal for those awful cramps you suffer. The strain is also used to treat depression and stress and is also said to have anti-inflammatory properties. As the high helps you focus a little better, it is sometimes used by patients with ADHD or ADD.
2 – Blue Dream
Experienced marijuana users may be fed up of Blue Dream because it is seemingly everywhere! It was the most popular strain in Colorado and California for a long time after its release. Depending on the cut, it could be slightly indica or sativa. It is a cross of Super Silver Haze and a Blueberry indica and contains up to 24% THC and 2% CBD.
Blue Dream is famous for the way it relaxes the entire body. Despite the potency of the strain in THC terms, its onset is relatively gentle as you feel a calm wave of euphoria. As a result, it is used by novices in moderate amounts, and can even be used as a morning smoke. The body high doesn’t force you to succumb to couch-lock and ensures you have the energy to complete your tasks.
Blue Dream is one of the better strains available for combatting PMS-related fatigue. The high levels of limonene and pinene help. Its CBD content is above average, which all but guaranteed its popularity as a medical strain. Some users report feeling more creative after a few tokes.
3 – Pink Kush
This strain is extremely popular in Canada and the Pacific Northwest region. It is a strongly indica hybrid that was created from OG Kush. It is another potent strain with a THC content of up to 20%, along with 1% CBD. Pink Kush is fairly easy to grow, and while it takes a long time to flower, the large yield is worth the effort.
Pink Kush is very much a late evening or nighttime strain because its indica effects are not going to allow you to do many energetic things. Once the high kicks in, you will feel briefly invigorated, and the feeling of euphoria lasts for hours.
It won’t take long for full-body relaxation to take hold, and by this point, you will be relaxed and ready to sleep.
This strain contains limonene and linalool, which help combat any moodiness you may feel when PMS strikes. Pink Kush is often the ‘go-to’ strain for patients with chronic stress or anxiety. It is also powerful enough to act as a painkiller and could prove useful if you’re trying to treat muscle spasms and back pain.
4 – Super Lemon Haze
This is one of the most popular strains on the planet and is a Cannabis Cup winner. It is a sativa-dominant hybrid that’s a cross of Super Silver Haze and Lemon Skunk. Users of Super Lemon Haze love its sharp citrus scent and taste, not to mention the euphoric high. It has a THC content of up to 22% and minimal CBD of 0.1% or less.
Super Silver Haze is very much a strain that helps you get up and go! While it has relaxing effects, it primarily gives you the energy to get things done. Some believe it is an ideal Wake and Bake strain, and it is also known for significantly improving your mood.
Like Blue Dream, Super Lemon Haze contains limonene and pinene and is ideal if you are trying to combat the fatigue caused by PMS. As a medical marijuana strain, it is often used to treat depression and stress, not to mention minor aches and pains such as muscle spasms and headaches.
5 – Lavender
Lavender essential oil is known for promoting relaxation, and the marijuana strain is no different. This indica-dominant hybrid is a favorite on the West Coast and is a cross of Hawaiian, Afghani, Big Korean Skunk, and Super Skunk. It has an eclectic mix of parents, which leads to a unique strain with a THC content of up to 27%, against about 1% CBD.
As strong as it is, Lavender offers a surprisingly mellow high that helps you feel calm and relaxed. The cerebral effect is potent and may be overwhelming if you’re a new user.
You should feel euphoric and ready to indulge in a great night’s sleep as the body relaxation takes over.
Lavender contains a relatively large amount of limonene and linalool. If you have PMS symptoms such as mood swings or depression, you may find the uplifting nature of this strain to be most pleasant. Its ability to completely relax a person to the point of sedation makes it ideal if PMS pain keeps you awake at night.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana for PMS
We hope you found this article useful in your quest to treat the often-unpleasant symptoms of PMS. Please note that you don’t necessarily need to get high to feel the benefits of marijuana. There are terpenes and non-psychoactive compounds in the plant that are said by some to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, not to mention the ability to relax the muscles.
If you decide to use one of the five marijuana strains we have outlined for PMS symptoms or any other strain, we recommend microdosing. This is the practice of ingesting small doses in concert with herbal remedies such as lemon balm and nettle. When you microdose, there is less danger of falling asleep during the day when using a sedative strain!
However, if you have problems sleeping, or else the pain gets too much, a highly potent strain could be just what you need. Remember, be sensible when using cannabis, and make sure you adhere to your state’s laws.