31 Mar Can marijuana ease menstrual cramps?
If you haven’t heard by now, actress Whoopi Goldberg has teamed up with Maya Elisabeth, the head of Om Edibles, which is a company that infuses products with marijuana, to launch their own “Medical Cannabis Menstrual Line” of products aimed at easing menstrual cramp pain. Called Whoopi & Maya, they offer a bath soak, edible raw cocao product, topical rub and tincture that are all infused with “sun grown cannabis”.
So, what’s my take on this? Well, let’s look at the science first. Can marijuana or any of its components ease menstrual pain? Unless you count a single one-patient experiment in 1847, I couldn’t find research directly examining the use of cannabis on menstrual cramps. And, that account is difficult to take seriously considering the doctor appeared to overdose his patient on a marijuana extract, then alternately used brandy and opiates to try to revive her.
Then there are rumors that Queen Victoria used medical marijuana to treat her menstrual cramps, but the only official mention of this I can find is here–and that comment doesn’t have a source. Not that use by a queen would automatically validate the use of marijuana for menstrual cramps. But, if true, at least that would double the number of women who were recorded using this herb as a cramp treatment.
To be honest, I consider it surprising that I’m not forced to wade through a mountain of studies examining marijuana’s effects on menstrual cramps. This herb has already been studied on a wide variety of other health issues, such as pain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), weight loss due to cancer and epilepsy.
Considering menstrual cramps are so common and marijuana is becoming legal and readily available in more areas, it seems like an obvious treatment to test on human subjects. This is especially true considering its low risk of side effects.
Okay, so the science is lacking. How about taking a closer look at the products? Could they relieve menstrual cramp pain?
In looking at the ingredients, it’s possible. However, it may not be due to the “sun grown marijuana” the products are infused with. It could be due to any of the other number of proven cramp-fighting ingredients these products also contain. For instance, the epsom salt in their bath soak is a known muscle relaxant that can ease cramp pain. Compounds found in cocao are already known to act in the brain like the mood-enhancing properties found in marijuana. The topical rub contains white willow bark, which is an herbal form of aspirin, and cramp bark, which is an herbal antispasmodic (it eases the spams causing cramp pain). And, the tincture contains cramp bark and other herbs traditionally used for relieving cramps.
The only way to know for sure if the marijuana components used in these products actually have any effect on menstrual cramp pain is to have them in products that don’t contain other pain-relieving ingredients.
So, what’s my verdict? It’s difficult to have one without any studies being conducted specifically to examine medical marijuana’s effects on menstrual cramps. So, if I lived in an area where this line was readily available, I might conduct an experiment using products with similar ingredients, but no marijuana, and then using these products that contain marijuana to see if the herb resulted in a greater pain-relieving effect. This could help make it clear if there’s any benefit. And, if the scientists aren’t going to conduct the research, someone should.
That said, I don’t recommend experimenting with the new cannabis suppositories (you insert them like tampons) that are supposed to also help eliminate cramp pain. At least not without first talking to your gynecologist about it first.