We know that cannabis is often used for menstrual cramps, irritability and general pain management during a woman’s period. This is such a common use for cannabis that brands are creating entire product lines to address all the ways cannabis can be used to get you through that time of the month. Many medical marijuana states recognize chronic abdominal pain as a qualifying condition while other medical states, like New Jersey, are considering bills to add menstrual pain to their list of qualifying conditions.
Have you ever noticed whether the effectiveness of cannabis changes for you throughout the month? Are there certain times of the month where you need more than your normal dose?
A study done by Washington State University says that THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is most effective in women when their estrogen levels are at peak during a woman’s monthly cycle. Researchers found that female rats were up to 30% more susceptible to the pain relieving qualities of cannabis than their male counterparts during this time.
What does this mean for women who use cannabis to relieve cramps, irritability and nausea during their period? As if life isn’t hard enough, this could mean cannabis is least effective when many of us need it most.
Why? Get ready for a middle school health lesson with a twist!
Estrogen, a hormone that controls a woman’s monthly cycle, has a very special relationship with cannabis. Estrogen helps the body break down THC, the chemical compound in weed responsible for psychoactive effects, into a more potent chemical to be absorbed by the body. That is to say: the more estrogen, the more potent and effective THC will be.
A woman’s period comes at the lowest level of estrogen production in a cycle. As most of us know, this time of the month can come with terrible cramps, back pain, headaches and irritability. Cannabis is a great alternative to classic menstrual medicines like Midol. But the lack of estrogen during your period makes it tough for the body to break down THC, rendering cannabis less effective.
CBD is also less effective during times of low estrogen levels. Estrogen helps produce some of the same important medical benefits as CBD by doing one thing in particular. It is able to block one crucial enzyme: Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase, also known as FAAH. FAAH’s main job is to break down a naturally produced cannabinoid in our bodies called Anandamide, known for its ability to lower levels of anxiety and depression just like CBD. When estrogen levels are high it acts as a bodyguard against FAAH so anandamide can flourish. When estrogen levels are low, anandamide gets broken down, leaving CBD to do twice the work.
Now that we know we may need to increase our dosage during the worst days of our period, we have a perfect reason to introduce new and innovative products to our regimen. If you find smoking a joint or dab of your favorite strain isn’t enough, then maybe try some infused salve to ease your lower back pain or an infused suppository to help dull the sharp pangs of menstrual cramps.
In summary: yes, cannabis can be less effective for you during your period. But let’s stay positive! This gives us a whole new reason to try some of the great new products on the market.