Is CBD Oil The Answer To Painful Periods & Hormonal Mood Swings?
LONDON, Feb 2020 – Women’s bloody business has become big business, with everything from hormone-tracking apps, to subscription boxes and plastic-free menstrual cups taking the market by storm.
In fact, the global feminine hygiene products market is forecasted to expand at a rate of 6.8%, and will reach a value of $52 billion by 2023, up from $37.4 billion in 2018 (Market Watch, 2020).
The BBC reported that last year, a football club in Gothenburg – Forza Football -became the first Swedish business to be certified ‘menstruation-friendly’, introducing flexible working for employees suffering from PMS, free sanitary products in all staff toilets and if they feel comfortable, sharing their cycle dates with other team members in advance to actively plan for working-from-home days.
But even with workplaces becoming more ‘period-friendly’, what about the women who suffer daily with debilitating cramps, bad mood swings and crippling anxiety around that time of the month? If women have tried all the over-the-counter remedies to no avail or are keen to go down the natural route, what can they try?
OurRemedy is a new CBD Oil with a difference. Created by a team of women who have suffered from endometriosis and painful periods – OurRemedy is an organic, vegan oil with a unique blend of grape seed, 500mg CBD infused with two key essential oils; clary sage and peppermint.
Made in the UK and beautifully packaged with sustainable, recycled materials – for each bottle of OurRemedy sold, the brand donate compostable sanitary products to Bloody Good Period, the leading Period Poverty Charity.
Founder, Rachel Mason said: ”Selfcare is important, but it doesn’t need to be selfish care. 1 in 4 women miss work due to period poverty, so we’re helping out. When you buy OurRemedy, you’re helping too.”
The brand also offer plastic-free refills for returning customers, with a £5 product discount incentive for doing so.
While there are no published research studies on CBD usage for period pain relief, cannabinoid expert Dr Dani Gordon told Refinery29 that it does have ‘well studied anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects across a wide range of chronic pain conditions’.
Teamed with clary sage, which may help alleviate menstrual cramps and hormonal change effects, PMS symptoms such as bloating, mood swings and compulsive eating could be soothed.
The addition of Peppermint provides OurRemedy with a subtle flavour, steering away from the typical hemp, earthy oil-taste that many CBD Oil products have. It’s also widely known for it’s muscle relaxing benefits, which may help with PMS related cramping.
OurRemedy is available online and from select stores from RRP £29.99.
CBD Oil for Cramps | Managing Your Period as a Runner
Over the last year, I’ve noticed more women finding a comfort level in talking about their menstrual cycle. And I think that’s HUGE. We need to understand how it effects our running, our mood, our stress and is this new trend of CBD oil for heavy periods and cramps legit?
Honestly, this is a subject that I always veered away from in the past because it felt like we were supposed to keep it quiet. Hush. Hush. Pretend it doesn’t happen.
But it does…almost like clockwork…with some wide variations depending on the month, the woman, our running and LIFE.
In my Virtual Run Club we’ve been diving so much in to female hormones for performance and weight loss that I wanted to shed some light on this topic as well because period cramps have been my downfall more than once.
A few good reads if you haven’t already:
– when are you primed for your speed sessions – how this hormone could be causing your weight gain – it’s not marijuana and it’s not the same as hemp! KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY anything.
CBD Oil for Cramps
Can CBD help with periods? In my experience the answer is yes.
But let’s be clear, I’m not saying it’s the only thing I’m using. I’m saying it helps.
One of the reasons, many female runners have been looking to try it out is because when we take Aleeve or another pain reliever, there’s potential issues with taxing our liver (seriously it’s a don’t do), but also because it can make us tired.
Since I only need Aleeve once a month, it almost knocks me out! I’m game to try and find other tools to help my body.
Why CBD oil can help with period pain?
helps to promote relaxation for better sleep and since sleep is often disrupted during PMS that’s win number one is often used on muscle aches and I’ve found it to be sooooo great on my lower abdomen when cramps start to help ease them
- CBD works with our internal endocannabinoid system which is part of why we think it can help with pain
- That same system is what’s responsible for achieving the runner’s high
A few things that can help to ensure CBD oil works for period cramps:
- Start increasing your CBD dosage some prior to starting your period. There is a cumulative effect.
- Take a full spectrum CBD from a HIGH QUALITY source (stop with the hemp oil, it’s not the same and stop buying one’s with a ton of filler. Might be cheaper, but if it doesn’t work who cares.)
- Take a high enough dosage and possibly a little more when feeling your worst. 20mg dropper at night and then CBD gummies during the day is a great option.
I shared my skepticism about CBD in that original article with all the research. And while it’s still not a cure all by any means….
I was happy to be proven wrong as it was such a game changer in my return post knee surgery and now I’ve seen how it’s continued to help me improve my running through higher quality sleep and recovery.
It was a pleasant bonus to realize it could help when that pain started and I wanted to crawl in to a hole. Plus, the CBD gummies were a nice mood boost on those days when I felt like I couldn’t handle any additional stress.
Why runners need their periods?
Yes ladies they are important. As someone who has super low hormones, I can tell you there’s a lot happening with those puppies and you need them.
Inconvenient because we can’t schedule them around races, sure.
Necessary none the less for optimal health.
- We’re learning more about how birth control forcing a period isn’t really the same and isn’t truly giving you the necessary hormonal benefits
- Not having it is often a sign of the Female Athlete Triad – which is a major issue for health.
- Low estrogen leads to bone density issues – more stress fractures
It’s not impossible to be a distance runner and have a consistent cycle. But you do need to pay attention to your body and your fueling.
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Amenorrhea: What Might Be Causing Your Missing Periods
Amenorrhea – loss of periods – can be troubling. Sure, your regular monthly bleed can be a bit of a nuisance when it strikes, but periods that go AWOL for months at a time can cause some serious health anxiety.
Irregular periods can be fairly common – a 2019 study found that over 14% women aged 19-54 reported irregular cycles – and may be nothing to worry about. However, persistent amenorrhea could be the sign of a more serious underlying health condition.
Here’s everything you need to know about missing periods, and whether yours should be cause for concern.
What is amenorrhea?
Quite simply, amenorrhea is the rather nasty sounding term used when women don’t have periods. There are two types: primary amenorrhea – i.e. you’ve never had a period in your life, and secondary amenorrhea – when you’ve had periods in the past but for some reason they’ve stopped.
It’s often associated with menopause symptoms but it can affect women at any time of their life, for other reasons. In this article, we’ll talk secondary amenorrhea specifically.
Generally, you’re considered to have amenorrhea if you haven’t had a period for:
- 3 cycles if you were regular before
- 6 months or more, if your periods were irregular before
‘If you’ve had periods in the past but they have stopped, and it’s not because of the menopause or because you’re pregnant, it is important to see your GP,’ says Shirin Irani, a consultant gynaecologist at Spire Parkway Hospital.
Amenorrhea is often a symptom in of itself. ‘Your period is an excellent barometer of your health,’ says Dr Nicky Keay, a sports and dance endocrinologist. ‘It’s normal to have fairly regular periods – at least 9 a year. If you don’t, there is likely something else going on in the body that needs your attention.’
What are the dangers of amenorrhea?
Anyone who’s every been caught tampon-less on D-day may be tempted to agree: not having been periods might seem pretty convenient. However, amenorrhea comes with a host of other health problems that could catch up with you down the line.
Most notably, oestrogen levels are needed to maintain calcium content in bone. This means that without the oestrogen spikes of your cycle, your bones can become progressively more porous, resulting in osteopenia, and eventually, osteoporosis.
Unsurprisingly, a lack of periods will also mean that it’s tough (but not impossible – more on that below) to fall pregnant.
Can you still get pregnant with amenorrhea?
It’s not impossible to get pregnant with amenorrhea says Kay Ali, a nutritional therapist and functional hormone specialist. ‘There are methods we can use like IVF to help,’ she says. ‘However, since you need to experience ovulation in order to get pregnant, it’s unlikely someone with amenorrhea will conceive naturally.’
How is amenorrhea treated?
There are a plethora of ways to treat amenorrhea, all very dependent on the root cause. For example, loss of periods as a result of premature ovarian failure or PCOS can be treated with medication, while lifestyle changes may help combat loss of periods caused by being overweight, underweight or energy deficiency.
Read on to find out the most common causes of amenorrhea and how they’re treated.
Amenorrhea causes: why your periods may have stopped
When it comes to why periods might unexpectedly stop, the answer is different for everyone. However, here are some of the most common causes.
No surprises here. A fertilised egg requires a nice, thick uterine lining – which is what you’ll shed in a regular period. If you suspect your may be pregnant, it’s worth checking out these 7 Early Signs of Pregnancy That You Need to Be Aware Of.
2/ Premature ovarian failure
If your ovaries call it time before you hit 40 then you’ll likely be diagnosed with premature ovarian failure (aka premature menopause).
Your periods will stop because you won’t have any more eggs to release and you’ll likely show other menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness and mood swings.
The reason? Because your ovaries won’t be producing oestrogen as they once were, your whole hormonal cycle will be all out of whack. It’s a key condition to get diagnosed.
‘If left unchecked, premature ovarian failure can cause oestrogen deficiency, which in turn can increase a woman’s risk of having weak bones as they get older,’ Irani says. Premature ovarian failure can also raise your risk of heart disease, dementia and depression.
The condition can be managed through hormone replacement therapy, as well as other lifestyle changes – so if your periods stopped for this reason, all is not lost.
3/ Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
In PCOS, the cyclical hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle don’t do what they are meant to do. Instead of maturing one ovarian follicle and releasing an egg into the fallopian tube, multiple follicles develop immaturely.
The result? Amenorrhea. However, without a monthly bleed, the lining of the womb can thicken, which, over time, could encourage abnormal cells to develop and lead to endometrial cancer.
However, a loss of or irregular periods are not the only symptom of PCOS, says Ali. ‘If you’ve diagnosed just on this basis, I encourage you to ask for have your hormone levels tested with a blood test.’
PCOS symptoms can be treated with medication but also changes to the food you eat and the ways in which you break a sweat.
Lifestyle changes have helped many women manage PCOS. Following a PCOS diet and plan for PCOS weight loss can also help. ‘Blood sugar control is important for women with PCOS as it is often this dysregulation of insulin that causes the other reproductive hormones to go haywire,’ says nutritionist Melanie Brown.
‘This can be done by eating foods rich in protein and fibre, plus complex carbohydrates, all of which take longer to break down, slowing the release of energy into the blood stream and preventing any sharp releases of insulin.’
4/ Being overweight
‘If you’re overweight, you will have more oestrogen floating around in your body, a condition described as hyper-oestrogenic,’ says Irani.
‘This is because not only is oestrogen produced by the ovaries; it can also be created in fat tissue.’ It’s all very complex but the long and the short of it is that too much excess oestrogen equals periods stopped.
The obvious answer is to lose weight. Here’s how to lose weight well. Your GP may also prescribe progesterone to encourage a fake bleed, which is important to relieve any thickening of the womb lining that could, left unchecked, could develop into endometrial cancer.
5/ Being underweight
The cause: as being overweight can cause your monthly bleed to go AWOL, so too can being underweight. Why? Body fat acts as a store for oestrogen. ‘One of the most common reasons for a woman’s periods to stop is simply not having enough body fat,’ says Brown.
‘We need a certain level of fat to maintain a pregnancy and if this falls below our own particular set-point, our pituitary gland will stop instructing our reproductive organs to produce the hormones needed for menstruation.’
It’s known as being hypo-oestrogenic and is a key player in long-term bone health. ‘If you have no periods because you are underweight, you’re at risk of osteoporosis – regardless of your age,’ Irani says,
And before you think you’ve dodged the bullet because you’re super lean but still having periods, take note: ‘It has been shown that being underweight – whether you are having periods or not – lower the “potency” of reproductive hormones,’ says Brown.
‘Think of it like the difference between full fat robust creamy milk and watery skimmed milk. When it comes to oestrogen and progesterone, full-fat is best.’
‘Put some weight on you,’ Irani says. An excuse to scoff Krispy Kremes that is not.
‘Follow a Mediterranean Diet,’ recommends Brown. ‘And never skip meals. Weight gain requires both nutrient- and calorie-dense foods – think plant fats, full-fat dairy products, complex carbohydrates such as sweet potato, brown rice, seedy wholegrain bread with peanut butter, fresh fruit with cheese or nuts, and a good whack of extra virgin olive oil over everything.’
Exercising regularly and monitoring your calorie intake? Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) occurs when you’re not getting enough energy to sustain you. ‘You may be overexercising, under-fuelling, or a combination of both,’ says Dr Keay.
‘Think of it as your body going into low battery mode – effectively switching off non-essential apps to conserve enough energy to keep you switched on,’ Dr Keay says. ‘One of the first things to go is the female reproductive hormones.’
In the past, this was a condition only really associated with serious athletes, but Dr Keay often treats regular gym-goers who have amenorrhea as a result of RED-S. ‘Often, these women are not noticeably underweight, or training more than once a day,’ she says. ‘Every one has a different healthy set-point.’
If you think you may fall into this category, you can try troubleshooting this yourself. Dr Keay recommends a minimum of three meals a day, all featuring a decent serving of protein, fat and carbs. Add to that a carb-based snack like a cereal bar or a banana before exercise and a snack that contains protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of your workout.
Or, she suggests decreasing intensity, like swapping your go-to HIIT workouts for strength and conditioning, and cutting out fasted cardio. Important: it could take a few months before you see that tell-tale spot of blood again, so don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t happen right away. If it doesn’t come back within a few months, it’s time to visit your GP or a specialist, Dr Keay says.
7/ Your contraception
‘Long-acting contraceptives can suppress the body’s mechanism of ovulating,’ says Irani. ‘Even after you stop using them. You may find you experience amenorrhea for a while before the complex hormonal mechanisms that trigger a bleed return to normal.’
In most cases, your periods will return to normal so, if you’re not trying to get pregnant, you don’t really need to do anything.
If, however, you are wanting to start a family, or are considering an alternative form of contraception, read our guide to coming off the contraceptive pill, first.
Think back to our ancestors for a second – living in the wild, fighting for survival on a daily basis. How awkward would it be if, while outrunning a bear, say, you find yourself saying hello to Aunt Flo.