CBD for menstrual cramps: Does it work?

Menstrual cramps are no joke. Often painful and debilitating, period cramps can wreak havoc every month when they roll around. So what exactly can you do to stop them? It turns out that a tiny compound found in cannabis may be able to help lower the symptoms of your menstrual cramps and make your day a little easier. We’ve rounded up all you need to know about the pain-relieving properties of CBD. 

Cannabidiol (CBD)

No doubt you’ve heard of cannabidiol (CBD), this cannabis compound has gained quite an impressive reputation for its therapeutic benefits. CBD belongs to a compound group called cannabinoids. You may have heard of the other major cannabinoid compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

CBD affects the body by acting on various receptor pathways. Research tells us that CBD produces benefits ranging from improved skin condition to reduced levels of anxiety (1, 2). 

CBD is available in many forms such as lotion, edible gummies, vapes and even shampoos. You’re most likely to find CBD as an oil that can easily be applied topically, placed under the tongue, or added to food and drink. 

Can CBD really help ease menstrual cramps?

CBD has shown a lot of promise as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, two extremely beneficial properties for people suffering from menstrual cramps. While more research is needed into CBD’s effects on the symptoms of menstruation specifically, the therapeutic potential of CBD indicates that it could be a useful tool in helping reduce the symptoms of menstruation. 

CBD the pain reliever 

CBD has long been touted as a pain reliever and research indicates that this cannabinoid may reduce pain levels by acting on serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and hormone that plays a key role in mood, and importantly, pain perception (3). 

CBD the anti-inflammatory 

Inflammation is a normal, healthy body process. But when inflammation starts to get out of control, it can leave you feeling swollen, tender, hot, and in pain. Inflammation is a common source of pain during menstruation, but the good news is that CBD may bring painful inflammation in control. CBD has shown an impressive ability to reduce inflammation by both suppressing proinflammatory factors and by activating inflammatory-blocking receptors (4, 5). 

Research on CBD as a menstrual cramps reliever 

Research into the effects of CBD highlights its potential to help reduce the symptoms of pain and discomfort that come with menstrual cramps. 

  • One study published in 2020 looked into the effects of CBD by surveying CBD users online. These survey results showed that CBD was being used by some respondents to manage the symptoms of menstrual disorders. It’s important to emphasize that this study relied on self-reported data, and more research is needed to validify the results. However, it’s promising to see that people are finding personal benefits from CBD for menstruation (6). 
  • Bloating and cramping are, unfortunately, common symptoms of menstruation and it seems that one hormone in particular might be to blame. The prostaglandin hormone triggers menstruation and can also result in the cramping and inflammation that often occurs during a period. Research into the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD tells us that CBD may block the inflammatory effects of prostaglandin by modulating certain receptor channels and inhibiting proinflammatory receptors (7). 
  • Pain and cramps go hand in hand, just ask anyone who’s experienced these unfortunate side effects of menstruation. However, a 2018 study showed that CBD helped reduce these pain levels. Published in the journal Pain, this study found that patients taking cannabinoids, including CBD, saw their pain levels reduced by up to 30% (8). Although it’s important to note that this study included a wide range of cannabinoid use, so the dramatic reduction in pain can’t be solely attributed to CBD. 

CBD can relieve other menstruation symptoms 

Unfortunately, cramps are not the only side effect that can occur with menstruation. Your period can also bring about feelings of anxiety, headaches and breakouts. The good news is that CBD may also help reduce these unwanted side effects, helping to keep your life a little more normal during menstruation. 

CBD for anxiety 

Mood changes are common during menstruation, and CBD may help get anxiety and mood swings under control. CBD activates serotonin receptors and increases the activity of serotonin. This is important as serotonin, nicknamed “the happy hormone,” plays a key role in improving mood and reducing anxiety (9). 

A 2019 study highlighted the effectiveness of CBD in controlling mood. The study found that CBD oil treatment led to a significant reduction in anxiety for teenage participants with social anxiety disorder (10). 

CBD for headaches

Headaches are also a common symptom of menstruation. A 2020 review found that CBD significantly reduced pain for patients with chronic headache conditions (11). 

CBD for breakouts 

Less debilitating but nonetheless unwanted, acne breakouts often occur during menstruation. Research tells us that CBD shows strong promise as a treatment for acne thanks to its ability to reduce oil production and inflammation in skin cells and act as an antibacterial (12, 13). 

Can CBD cause any side effects?

While CBD may relieve many symptoms of menstruation, it can also come with its own side effects. While typically mild, you should be aware of these. The common side effects of CBD oil include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness/lethargy (14)

The bottom line 

Menstruation can come with some frustrating and painful side effects, but CBD offers a lot of promise as a treatment for pain, inflammation, skin breakouts and anxiety.


**Standard Disclaimer: CBD is not FDA-approved. We make no such claims that using our products will guarantee relief. Moreover, research regarding CBD is still ongoing and in the early stages.**