Everyone has probably felt the sudden, painful muscle contraction at a particular moment in their lives. Such contractions, or cramps, are not harmful to your health. However, they may be highly discomforting, especially if they reoccur pretty often. The causes of cramps are diverse, ranging from athletic exercise to periodic pain associated with menstruation in women.
What Are Cramps?
Cramps are sudden, involuntary muscle contractions or excessive shortening. As soon as you experience cramps, you might feel that your muscle gets paralyzed. In some people, cramps cause considerable pain, while menstrual cramps are couch-locking for many women. Thus, medical professionals are constantly searching for effective medications that can block or at least minimize the impact of cramps on people’s well-being and daily performance.
The most widespread remedy for cramps is a complex of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. Their positive effect is associated with blockage of prostaglandins — the hormones causing muscular contractions.
Still, not everyone favors pharmacological treatments and searches for more natural ways of minimizing the discomfort of cramps.
In this article, we will examine the existing clinical evidence to show you how cannabis can deliver a relief alternative to NSAIDs.
DISCLAIMER: This article isn’t intended for use as an instruction for self-medicating; it’s only a compilation of clinical evidence and published facts about the impact of cannabis on cramps. Always consult your physician before using weed to treat cramps!
Most Common Types of Cramps
Cramps have many manifestations and happen in cases of painful muscular contractions. The latter are usually brief and sudden, but the intensity of cramps is individually determined. Some people are highly intolerant to cramps-associated pain and spend several days on a couch trying to live through this period with minimal damage.
You may suffer cramps after an intense workout. Cramps also happen during the premenstrual period and plague millions of women across the globe every month. Thus, when we talk about marijuana administration for cramps, we mean menstrual cramps in most cases as women are increasingly accepting this method of coping with the pain of PMS cramps. So how does weed help cramps? Let’s clarify that.
Both professional athletes and sports beginners can feel muscles cramps after intense workouts. This condition is caused by muscle overuse or dehydration. Otherwise, you can overburden the muscle by holding it too long in a fixed position. Such cramps are harmless but can cause significant discomfort and intense, though brief, pain episodes.
If you wish to use weed to fight cramps, here is a couple of weed strains with the best-proven effect for this condition.
They all cause significant muscle relaxation and help you feel relief quickly due to the release of dopamine:
Menstrual cramps are a distinct type of pain and discomfort women experience before menstruation. These cramps come with major pain, inflammation, soreness, and tenderness that not every woman can stand. Thus, PMS-associated muscle contraction requires management not to affect women’s daily activities.
Does weed help menstrual cramps? Yes, there is enough medical evidence to suggest that cannabis has a proven positive effect on the unpleasant feelings caused by uterus contractions during PMS.
The impact of cannabinoids and terpenes is relaxing and anti-inflammatory, thus helping to combat the complex of painful and discomforting cramps experiences. Here is a list of weed’s positive effects:
Reduced tenderness of breasts, abdomen, and lower back.
Digestive issue management.
Does Weed Help Menstrual Cramps?
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that weed doesn’t produce an effect similar to that of NSAIDs we’ve discussed above. In other words, it won’t block the release of prostaglandins, causing you pain and discomfort. However, weed helps you differently — it stimulates the release of dopamine in your brain, making you feel good. It means that even if cramps persist, they won’t bother you that much.
Besides, the cannabinoids contained in marijuana are known for their anti-inflammatory and spasmolytic effects, which help your uterus relax and experience less pain from cramps. Thus, taking into account the generalized painkilling effect of weed, the consumption of weed products can relieve cramps-related pain as well.
Kogan and Sexton reported the presence of conclusive and substantial evidence for cannabis’s efficiency for pain treatment in adults (as per the National Academy of Sciences’ 2017 statement).
Hasnie (2019) found CBD effective in menstrual cramps relief, among other therapeutic effects (depression relief, skin rejuvenation, improved sleep, lowered blood sugar, etc.)
Mercurio et al. confirmed that marijuana is a viable substitute for prescription medications, such as opioids and analgesics.
Besides, women are growing more accepting of this treatment method in the USA. Clinical research supports this assumption as well:
Alton et al. studied a sample of U.S. female respondents and found that many of them would consider using (or are currently using) cannabis to manage gynecological conditions.
The 2021 survey of Han et al. showed that many women use cannabis for gynecological conditions and those who haven’t tried cannabis for cramps management are willing to do so.
Given this clinical evidence of marijuana’s effect on cramps, you might consider adding weed-containing medications to your arsenal of managing menstrual or sports cramps. But before you do this, make sure to study all the pros and cons of using cannabis for treating menstrual cramps.
Positive effect on inflammation.
Healthier skin and PMS acne prevention.
Reduced tenderness of breasts, lower back, and abdomen.
Muscle relaxation reduces the intensity of cramps.
There is always a risk of overdosage and unwanted psychoactive side effects. Cash et al. discovered in their 2020 study that the potency of cannabis products sold in medical and recreational dispensaries is higher than the one recommended for cramps treatment.
Bonn-Miller et al. cautioned against trusting the labeling of cannabis products as 90% of all merchandise available to date are incorrectly labeled, indicating the wrong concentration of cannabinoids, which may also end with an unwanted overdosage or side effects.
Women are cautioned against regular use of cannabis for cramps alleviation as cannabis abuse has adverse effects on female reproductivity.
Read Also: How To Buy Recreational Marijuana
Top 7 Strains of Cannabis for Menstrual Cramps
Experts recommend using CBD-rich strains to alleviate the pain and discomfort coming with menstrual cramps. Here is a list of weed strains suitable to manage menstrual cramps.
The Midnight strain is the most CBD-rich choice among those available on the market today. It has 10.98-11.5% of CBD, which makes its effect mostly relaxing. Its CBD-THC ratio is roughly 1:1, which is quite rare. The strain is grown in Israel and labeled as a hybrid product, though its dominant strain is Sativa.
Berry OG offers up to 0.96% of CBD, thus being suitable for those who want to relax and have a good night’s sleep, exhausted by cramps and pain. Its strong relaxation effect makes it a good match for evening weed consumption. Medical smokers report its strong impact on physical pain.
Strawberry Cheesecake strain is a favorite among those who lean for the relaxing effect. The CBD concentration is 1.16-1.48%, which is relatively high. Women also love the strain for its sweetness, dessert flavor, and pleasant taste. You’ll enjoy the combination of fruity and creamy shades in its flavor. However, the strain is not recommended for inexperienced users as it possesses a solid sedating effect and can be really couch-locking.
The Strawberry Glue strain is also an excellent choice for females as it contains sweet strawberry flavors and is very pleasant for consumption. This strain is specifically recommended for pain, inflammation, and muscle spasm treatment because of its balanced, calming effect.
The 0.45-0.3% CBD concentration in LemonAde strain gives the users a significant inflammation and pain management effect while at the same time not affecting their daily activities. Its impact of relaxing for the body and stress-clearing, though without a knock-out effect. The citrus flavor also attracts many weed connoisseurs.
The Jelly Breath strain comes with up to 1% CBD concentration, thus giving a pronounced soothing effect for the users. Consumers claim that this choice is ideal for those wishing to ease the tension and minimize pain and cramps.
The sweet taste and 0.8% CBD contained in Sherblato make it a top pick among users seeking stress minimization, pain relief, and cramps alleviation. It’s also good for fighting depression as its major effect is an elevated mind, boosted creativity, and better focus.
Possible Risks of Marijuana and Menstrual Cramps
Marijuana and menstrual cramps have become closely associated as weed can bring quick, tangible relief for this condition. However, it’s strongly recommended not to self-medicate as intense, prolonged cramps may be a sign of a severe illness, or you may be too susceptible to weed components, thus not achieving the desired therapeutic effect. Here is what Joseph Rosado, MD, recommends:
“Definitely. I manage a lot of patients with pelvic pain, and I provide different modes of administration. One is using the topical patch. Applying the patch and cutting the patch – because it comes in a rectangular form – in half and putting one half on one inguinal area of the groin and one on the other inguinal area of the groin because you’ve got the femoral arteries and veins there and it’s absorbed through the skin and makes its way into the bloodstream and then addresses the pain. Also, applying it directly over or just above the pubic bone, which is the bone found between your belly button and your pelvis — a good place to apply the topical patch.
“Other things that we recommend are utilizing a capsule or a gel cap and inserting it intravaginally. The glycerin capsule dissolves, and the oils are absorbed intravaginally, which will help with the cramping. There are certain states in the United States that have tampons that have been infused with cannabis, so inserting the tampon during their menstrual cycle helps also with the cramps. So those are different modes of administration to manage cramping and cramp pain.”
There are numerous precautions for women, including pregnancy, breastfeeding, or other issues they should consider.
Medical marijuana labeling is not always precise, with numerous products containing higher cannabinoid doses.
Marijuana use may affect your ability to drive a car and perform daily work routines. Thus, you shouldn’t use this method of fighting cramps on a daily basis.
Thus, despite the proven efficiency of weed for muscular contractions and menstrual pain, you need to seek a medical professional’s consultation first to develop an individual treatment plan and dosage to achieve the intended effect.
As the presented evidence suggests, the impact of weed on cramps is well-established in medical research and practice. Due to marijuana’s ability to alleviate pain and reduce the unpleasant effect of inflamed membranes, it is widely used to treat menstrual and sport-related cramps.
However, don’t self-medicate with marijuana as it is a psychoactive substance not everybody can benefit from. If you’re considering the use of cannabis for menstrual cramps, we recommend consulting with your physician first. In this way, you’ll minimize the risks of undesirable side effects and check whether this option will be safe for you.
This article originally appeared on AskGrowers.com and has been reposted with permission.