CBD and hemp brands are marketing their products for managing pain and period cramps, but as someone with endometriosis, I know they won’t help me. Because CBD might help reduce inflammation and chronic pain, it might also help reduce menstrual cramps and other period-related symptoms, like headaches, lower back pain, and sore breasts. But because there are many CBD products on the market, it can be challenging to sift through products and find high quality CBD.
I Really Need CBD Brands to Stop Lying to Me About Period Cramps
I was scrolling through my emails recently, exorcising spam, when one subject line caught my eye: “CBD for PMS? Hallelujah! .” The hemp company’s newsletter could not have been more on point—I was smack dab in the middle of one of my most painful periods to date. I opened the email, and my heating pad slipped as I shifted to the edge of my seat.
Could this really be the magical answer to the burning ball of fiery knives inside my uterus? I thought.
The newsletter was riddled with seemingly relatable Friends GIFs, clever alliterations, and marketing buzzwords to get the reader to buy, buy, buy! “PMS Pain Be Gone!” it read. But what it didn’t have was products that have been proven to—in any way, shape, or form—actually minimize excruciating period cramps.
I was floored. Not just as someone with intense period pain due to endometriosis, but also as a C-suite-level marketing professional. I couldn’t tell what was worse, the cramps in my uterus or the knife in my back.
One of the products was a patch with only 15 mg of CBD, also called cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis that does not produce a high. Using that to try to manage my pain would be like putting a Band-Aid on a gushing head wound. How do I know this? For starters, I typically consume between 30 mg and 50 mg of CBD in a single dose when I’m taking it to manage my pain. And as much as I feel CBD assists me in my pain management, it’s not my cure-all. I could replace my blood with CBD oil and I would still have intense cramps. If something has only 15 mg of CBD, I don’t have to try it to know it’s not going to cure my PMS. Not to mention, there’s just no science or regulation behind these claims.
I quickly grabbed my phone and did what all opinionated millennial women do: rant on social media. Messages immediately poured in. I was not alone. Other women had similar experiences with the new wave of CBD products. Screenshots of high-end packaging and their ingredient labels flooded my DMs. Once again, I was taken aback by the prices, claims, ingredients, and minimal CBD contents.
If a product hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the brand behind that product cannot legally claim it will cure any ailment. From the FDA itself: ”Unlike drug products approved by the FDA, unapproved CBD drug products have not been subject to FDA review as part of the drug approval process, and there has been no FDA evaluation regarding whether they are safe and effective to treat a particular disease, what the proper dosage is, how they could interact with other drugs or foods, or whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns.”
This is an incredibly personal issue for me because my periods are definitely not normal. I received my official endometriosis diagnosis after a laparoscopy in the summer of 2015. I have been working ever since to manage the painful, frustrating symptoms, which I’ve dealt with unofficially for over a decade. Traditional painkillers barely scratch the surface of my pain, and I had trouble getting doctors to take my level of pain seriously.
By Maggie O’Neill, M.F.A.
By Korin Miller
By Carolyn L. Todd
Up until my surgery, I was subjected to bouts of extreme discomfort and frequent UTIs. Sex was painful, and sometimes I would bleed during or after. I developed depression and anxiety while going through these unsuccessful battles with an ever-growing list of symptoms that went undiagnosed for years. I was opposed to opioid use and searched for an alternative. Not only do I understand the allure of using cannabis for period paid—I do it myself, and I find that some products really do help.
I didn’t know about CBD until I moved to California in 2017 and was shown a world of wonders (and snake oil), much of which is targeted toward women. Beauty products, supplements, and pain management aids were all labeled with “CBD” seemingly overnight. Even in California, where cannabis is legal, it isn’t regulated or FDA-approved the same way that prescription drugs are. So labels can still be inaccurate, which makes it difficult to know if you’re actually getting the dose you think you are.
Personally, I have found benefits from using CBD, and I find the best results when using CBD with THC products. That makes sense, according to a 2017 report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, which found that there is “conclusive or substantial evidence” that cannabis—not CBD on its own—is effective at treating chronic pain. (But not specifically pain due to PMS or endometriosis.)
I particularly gravitate toward tinctures and gummies that have a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD (meaning they contain the same amount of both compounds) when I’m dealing with tougher days or trying to sleep. I rely on trustworthy products and brands because my well-being can’t afford anything less. I’ve also made other healthful changes in my life that have helped me manage my symptoms, like finding other supplements that work for me, getting an IUD, changing my eating habits, and working out more. CBD and cannabis aided my journey of health and self-growth.
But I’m tired of brands and headlines making CBD out to be a miracle supplement that will rid you of anxiety, stress, tension, pain, acne, inflammation, PMS—the list goes on. The reality is that people do report that cannabidiol helps them, and I would never want to diminish CBD for those who receive benefits from it. But we have to be careful about the claims we make about these substances—especially when those claims are about treating serious, chronic conditions.
When I see brands push these products to unsuspecting women, I can’t help but feel a mix of anger, sadness, and loss of hope for a real solution. Women already go through insurmountable pain with few options and skeptical doctors. When we find something that we think works, we need to know that we can consistently trust it. But right now, we don’t have that for CBD.
More than ever, it’s on us, the consumers, to be discerning—and to make sure we’re having honest, reasonable discussions about what we’re experiencing, whether or not our treatments are working, and when it’s appropriate to try something new with open-minded medical professionals. Those conversations are crucial to help you figure out exactly what your needs are and what you can really expect from a possible treatment—especially when it comes to CBD.
CBD for Menstrual Cramps: Can it Help with Period Pain?
People use cannabidiol (CBD) for a bunch of reasons, including pain relief. And while research is still ongoing into the pain-relieving effects of CBD, what we know so far is promising.
Because CBD might help reduce inflammation and chronic pain, it might also help reduce menstrual cramps and other period-related symptoms, like headaches, lower back pain, and sore breasts.
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But because there are many CBD products on the market, it can be challenging to sift through products and find high quality CBD. Below, in addition to exploring how CBD can help with menstrual cramps, we also list several high quality products that we’ve extensively vetted.
How can CBD help menstrual cramps?
Sure, you can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen to relieve cramping and other uncomfortable menstrual symptoms. But these can sometimes produce unwanted effects like stomach issues. And if you have severe cramping, they might not work for you.
Some people swear by CBD as a natural alternative for dealing with period cramps. But does it work?
One 2020 review concluded that there’s not enough evidence to give solo credit to CBD for pain relief, especially since many studies involve products that also contain THC.
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According to research from 2019, women with endometriosis self-rated cannabis or CBD oil as the most effective at relieving pain, compared with physical interventions, such as yoga and stretching, and other remedies. But the survey did not evaluate whether cannabis or CBD oil was more effective than the other.
When it comes to CBD specifically, there’s currently no research on the effects of CBD on menstrual cramping.
However, some evidence does suggest that CBD alone might have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2016 study on rats, for example, found that applying CBD gel reduced joint inflammation and pain with no adverse effects.
These properties may help reduce painful period-related cramping and other uncomfortable symptoms during your period, including headaches.
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That said, research suggests that THC and CBD work best together, so if you’re looking for a CBD product to help with menstrual pain, consider opting for a full-spectrum one.
Ultimately, to better understand CBD’s potential role in pain management, more studies are needed.
How to choose CBD for menstrual cramps
Here’s what to consider when choosing a CBD product for menstrual cramps:
Research suggests that CBD may work better when paired with THC. When combined, they produce the entourage effect. That means if you’re looking for a product to help with cramping, a full-spectrum option may be the best option.
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For menstrual pain, you’ll likely want full-body effects, so opt for a capsule, gummy, or tincture. A topical gel or cream can provide targeted relief for things like back or muscle pain.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate CBD products — at least, not exactly. They can issue warning letters to companies that make deceptive, unfounded claims. However, it’s still pretty easy for companies to misrepresent their products.
How can you be sure you’re buying a high quality product? Look for an up-to-date certificate of analysis (COA), and check that the info on it matches what’s on the product label. If you can’t find evidence of third-party testing? That’s a red flag.
Transparency doesn’t just involve making COAs readily available. Reputable companies will also be open about where they source their ingredients.
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Look for CBD made with U.S.-grown hemp — ideally, organic.
If you’re shopping specifically for pain relief, some topical products contain added ingredients meant to relieve pain, like arnica. Arnica also has warming properties that may help with period-related abdominal discomfort.
How we chose
We used standards for safety, quality, and transparency to make our selections. Each product selected:
- is made by a company that provides third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
- plainly provides evidence of this testing
- is made with hemp grown in the United States
- contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the COA
- is free of heavy metals, pesticides, and molds, according to the COA
- customer reviews
- any warning letters from the FDA
- any unsubstantiated health claims for the product or the CBD in general
ishonest’s pick of the 8 best CBD products for menstrual cramps
Vertly Infused Bath Salts
- Price: $
- CBD type: full-spectrum
- CBD potency: 100 milligrams (mg) per pouch
- COA: available on product page
If bath time is already part of your period week self-care ritual, consider adding these CBD-infused bath salts to the mix.
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The full-spectrum CBD Epsom salts contain a soothing blend of arnica, lemon, clary sage, and lavender to help you relax, unwind, and forget about cramping. The product is organic, vegan, and handcrafted in California.
Vertly’s founder recommends soaking before bedtime to promote relaxation and sleep.
GoGreen Hemp CBD Melatonin Softgels
In addition to CBD, these softgels contain calming chamomile oil and melatonin, which may help you get a better night’s sleep when cramps come on at night. Each bottle contains 30 broad-spectrum CBD capsules, and each capsule contains 1 mg of melatonin.
GoGreen Hemp has a rewards program for frequent shoppers, which is good news if you plan on buying these to battle monthly cramps. The company also offers an assistance program for long-term disabled people, veterans and active service members, and low-income households.
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Customers say they appreciate the excellent customer service. Many also claim that the CBD soft gels helped them sleep.
CBDistillery CBD Warming Cream
If you regularly grab a hot water bottle or heating pad when you have monster cramps, consider adding this warming cream to your anti-cramp routine. This broad-spectrum cream contains camphor, which provides a soothing warming sensation when applied directly to the skin.
Rub it on your abdomen to help dull the pain from period cramps. The cream also contains skin-nourishing ingredients like aloe.
Reviewers say it’s easy to apply and works effectively to relieve pain.
Elate CBD|CBN Sleep Blend
Nutrition for dry skin
This CBD oil from Elate also contains cannabinol (CBN), another cannabinoid thought to help with sleep. This mint-flavored, THC-free oil might help if sleep is evading you because of painful cramps.
Elate recommends taking a full dropper about 30 minutes before bedtime.
Seabedee Extra Strength CBD Oil
This ultra-potent CBD oil might help kick your painful cramps to the curb. Bottles contain either 1,500 or 3,000 mg CBD and come in flavors like vanilla and peppermint. This CBD oil also contains cannabigerol (CBG) and CBN, other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. The carrier oil is organic MCT oil.
Seabedee offers free shipping and a money-back guarantee.
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One reviewer calls the product highly effective, claiming they feel a mild calming effect after ingesting the oil.
CBDfx Calming Tincture
CBDfx’s calming tincture contains a mix of CBD and CBN. This tincture is available in multiple strengths, up to 4,000 mg. The full-spectrum blend is both vegan and gluten-free.
The company offers a 60-day guarantee and has a team of medical advisors on staff.
This product has over 800 positive reviews, and customers say the taste takes some getting used to, but the product works wonders.
Harmonious CBD Isolate
You No Longer Have to Live With Pores
Harmonious CBD Isolate might be the CBD product for you if you want to avoid THC. The product is vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO, and it’s made with organic hemp. It also contains organic MCT oil.
While the oil is potent, the high price tag might be a big downside for some.
PlusCBD Oil Gummies
These fruit-flavored CBD gummies might be a good option for people who hate swallowing pills but still want the benefits of an extra-strength CBD product. The gummies are available in cherry mango and citrus punch, and contain no artificial sweeteners. Each gummy contains 10 mg CBD.
PlusCBD sources their CBD from non-GMO hemp plants.
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Reviewers say the gummies help with pain and that they taste great and have a pleasant texture.
Benefits and risks of using CBD for menstrual cramps
Unlike THC, CBD is unlikely to cause side effects. Even if you do experience adverse effects, they’ll likely be mild. Possible side effects may include:
- appetite and weight changes
Be careful when using topical products, especially if you have sensitive skin. Read the ingredient list and do a patch test before using topical CBD products.
Talk with your doctor before using CBD products, especially if you’re taking any drugs or supplements, as drug interactions are possible.
How to use CBD for menstrual cramps
How to prevent pimples?
To use a topical CBD product, rub it directly on the area that’s causing you grief. If you don’t get any relief, you can use more after a few hours.
For ingestible products, check the product label for dosing guidelines. Generally, it’s a good idea to start with a low dose and work your way up. It can take time for CBD to take effect, though, so wait a few hours before taking an additional dose.
CBD oils, creams, sprays, gummies, and capsules are not guaranteed to get rid of your menstrual cramps. But there’s little risk involved in trying them.
More research is needed to determine the relationship between CBD and pain relief. Although some evidence suggests CBD may help with pain — particularly anecdotal evidence — there are no specific studies that look into the potential benefits of CBD for cramps.
Before you try CBD for period cramps, talk with your doctor. If you’re experiencing severe cramping, you may have an underlying condition that requires treatment.
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