What is Premenstrual Syndrome?
Premenstrual Syndrome is a mix of emotional and physical symptoms that women experience after they have ovulated, and before their menstruation. It is thought to be due to levels of oestrogen and progesterone dropping significantly after ovulation. The symptoms of PMS should stop a few days after menstruation as your hormone levels begin to rise again. Over 90% of women will experience symptoms of PMS at some point in their life. For some women, the symptoms are light and manageable. However, for others, the pain and discomfort can be so severe that it interferes with daily life.
What are the symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome?
Due to hormone levels dropping women can experience many emotional symptoms such as:
- Mood swings
- Periods of crying
- Sleeping problems
- Low sex drive
- Changes in appetite and food cravings
Women can also experience various uncomfortable physical symptoms such as:
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Swollen or tender breasts
- Low tolerance for noise and light
There are a few factors that can increase the severity of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. A family or personal history of depression will increase the likeliness of experiencing depression as a symptom. One large scale study found that women who smoked tobacco experienced worse PMS symptoms than those who didn’t smoke. Eating healthier throughout the month, and avoiding sugary or caffeinated drinks can help reduce problems too. Symptoms of PMS are more likely to affect women in their thirties and can continue until menopause. For some women, symptoms worsen with age, and in a few cases, PMS can develop into premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is similar to PMS but much more severe.
What are the current treatment options?
The symptoms of PMS are so varied, and they can affect each woman so differently. For this reason, there is no miracle cure for all of them together. However, there are many options to treat them individually. Some are more appealing than others. For physical symptoms such as headaches, cramps and bloating there are over the counter pharmaceutical options like Aspirin and Ibuprofen. These are a good short term fix, but any chemical taken over a long time is bad for your health. Another option is prescription medication. Certain diuretics can help with bloating and there are various types of birth control that can help correct hormonal imbalances. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed to relieve the emotional symptoms. These treatments can all be successful however there are always risks to taking any medication. Various lifestyle changes can help too like eating healthy and being more physically active.
How can CBD help?
Many women around the world already use cannabis to self-treat symptoms of PMS. Mountains of anecdotal evidence confirm that it helps with pain, nausea, anxiousness and more. However, for some women, consuming THC does not work for them, and can actually increase feelings of sadness and anxiety. This is where CBD comes in. CBD, or cannabidiol, is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. It is similar to THC but does not produce the ‘high’ associated with the plant. CBD can actually reduce the feelings of anxiety brought on by THC.
CBD is already used to alleviate many of the emotional symptoms of PMS. Its use in the treatment of sadness, feelings of anxiety and mood swings has been very successful. Endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors can be found in abundance in the areas of the brain related to anxiety and sadness. This means cannabinoids such as CBD may be able to help regulate these emotional conditions.
CBD has also made a name for itself by being a powerful anti-inflammatory and painkiller. This could come in handy when trying to alleviate the physical symptoms of PMS. Some women experience such severe headaches and cramping that even getting out of bed is difficult. One early study from 2012 found that cannabinoids like CBD are “ideal therapeutic agents in the treatment of inflammatory and neuropathic pain” and that they can weaken pain sensations “without significantly causing major psychoactive side effect and analgesic tolerance” (2012, NCBI).
CBD is a health supplement, used to support homeostasis and maintain a healthy immune system. It is not a cure, or medicine, but can provide relief from many physical and emotional issues. Medical research is limited due to its cost, but what has been discovered so far is very promising. Furthermore, the anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of cannabinoids like CBD is overwhelming. If you are thinking about trying it out it is always best to do as much research as possible, and seek the advice of your doctor.
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