Pre-Menstrual Syndrome

Can medical marijuana help with PMS? It’s possible! Read below to learn about the details. 

Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) has various symptoms, including mood swings, breast tenderness, cravings, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, and depression. Approximately three in four menstruating women experience some form of pre-menstrual syndrome. Symptoms occur in a pattern, but the physical and emotional changes experienced may vary from mild to severe. Luckily, these issues don’t have to control your life. Treatments and lifestyle changes can help manage and relieve symptoms of PMS. 

What is Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS)?

PMS is a combination of physical and emotional symptoms many women experience after ovulation and before the menstrual period. Researchers suggest that PMS happens due to estrogen and progesterone levels decreasing dramatically if you aren’t pregnant. The symptoms stop within a few days after the period starts as hormone levels begin to rise again. 

What are the symptoms?

Some women have their monthly periods with little to no PMS symptoms. For others, they can be so severe that it disrupts daily activities like work or school. Severe PMS symptoms may be a sign of pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), so it’s important to talk with a doctor. The pre-menstrual syndrome goes away during pregnancy and after menopause. 

PMS Physical symptoms may include:

  • Swollen, tender breasts
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating or Gassy
  • Cramping
  • Headache
  • Body Aches
  • Clumsiness
  • Light or sound sensitivity

PMS Emotional symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Exhaustion
  • Sleep issues
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Food cravings
  • Cognitive issues
  • Tension
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Crying spells
  • Mood swings
  • Low sexual interest

Causes of PMS

Precisely what causes pre-menstrual syndrome is unknown, but several factors contribute to the condition:

  • Cyclic changes in hormones. Symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome change as hormones rise and fall and stop with pregnancy and menopause.
  • Chemical changes in the brain. Serotonin, a brain chemical thought to regulate mood, could trigger PMS symptoms as it fluctuates. Low serotonin levels may contribute to pre-menstrual depression, fatigue, cravings, and sleep issues.
  • Depression. Severe pre-menstrual syndrome can lead to developing depression. 

Diagnosis & Treatment for PMS

An entire medical history, physical, and pelvic exam are the first ways to track PMS symptoms. Your doctor may ask that you keep a journal of your symptoms for several months to assess the timing, severity, onset, and duration of symptoms. The physician will consider age, overall health, and symptoms when prescribing the best treatment.

Lifestyle changes and medications can help manage PMS symptoms, such as: 

  • Anti-depressants
  • Diuretics to stop fluid buildup
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Birth control pills 
  • Medications to stop the production of estrogen and progesterone
  • Increase protein and decrease sugar or caffeine intake
  • Vitamin B-6, calcium, and magnesium supplements
  • Light exercise or walking

Can Medical Marijuana Help?

Medical marijuana is commonly found to possess significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help with chronic pain management reasonably quickly. Cannabinoid receptors bind to the brain and peripheral nerve cells and help regulate how you see and feel the pain to reduce symptoms. Medical cannabis, therefore, as opposed to other drugs, appears to be an excellent alternative to treat and manage pain due to inflammation. 

Recent studies from medicine and health sciences professionals suggest that certain cannabis products may effectively treat an overactive immune system. It can connect with the cannabinoid receptors of the body to combat the proinflammatory t-cell responses needed. It has been used to treat rare skin conditions, Crohn’s disease, neuropathic pain, autoimmune diseases, menstrual cramps, inflammatory bowel disease, acute psychosocial stress, and many other conditions. 

A 2008 study called “Cannabis Treatments in Obstetrics and Gynecology: A Historical Review” reports that “the use of weed to treat menstrual cramping is nothing new, dating back to the 1800s when Queen Victoria’s clinician allegedly prescribed her Mary Jane to alleviate period pain and symptoms of PMS.” 

The Daily News stated that medical cannabis relieves headaches, menstrual cramps, low mood, and diarrhea and can be used topically or via inhalation.   

Women have been cultivating, using, and advocating for cannabis since ancient Egypt. From a female Pharoah named Hatshepsut to Queen Victoria, many famous women of our past have used hemp for medicinal purposes, expressly to relieve menstrual cramps and alleviate childbirth symptoms for new moms.

Several female writers have also advocated for using hemp as a treatment for ailments. For example, a German nun named Hildegard von Bingen, who wrote Physica and Little Women author Louisa May Alcott, described hash experimentation positively while writing her book Perilous Play.

In more recent times, Margaret Mead comes to mind as she fought the War On Drugs in the 1960s and even testified to Congress on behalf of cannabis legalization. In short, women have been fighting for marijuana rights since societal recordings began to mention cannabis.

So far, New Jersey is the only state that mentions menstrual cramps as a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana card. However, chronic pain is listed for most legal states and can be considered for an MMJ certification. We recommend talking with your doctor about this alternative option. 

Last Updated: July 25, 2023

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