Monday, December 23, 2019

THC & CBD for Menstrual Maladies

Image result for cannabis women

Despite half the (cannabis using & human) population being female, not much is written about the plant's interaction with the menstrual cycle or how its main components--THC & CBD--may help with common complaints like PMS or cramps.  Women as far back as Queen Victoria have used cannabis to alleviate painful periods, and there are all kinds of products in today's market aimed at women, such as Foria & Whoopi Goldberg's "Whoopi And Maya" line.  Are they worth the dough or just a bunch of hype?

Hormones have a profound effect on the mind & body--almost like a drug themselves.  The number of conditions affected by the female hormones estrogen & progesterone are numerous; a few of them include:   PCOS, endometriosis, migraine, PMS/PMDD & uterine fibroids.  Autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis & lupus also affect women disproportionately.  While not a panacea, weed can help with the pain, nausea, depressed mood & spasticity associated with these conditions if used in the right doses at the right time.  The trick is finding the route of administration & product that works best for you.

THC & CBD are not the only substances in cannabis though they are the most abundant & most physically active in humans.  Together they have a synergistic effect, enhancing the impact of each other in a way that makes the overall experience more pleasant.  THC is the "psychedelic" mind-altering one that affects perception of time & causes the munchies, giddiness, laughter & intoxication classically associated with the plant.  CBD has essentially the opposite effect, acting as a mild anti-psychotic with relaxing effects that quiet the mind.  It can also stop a bad THC "trip" in its tracks if you get too high. 

Different strains of cannabis contain different amounts of THC & CBD.  There really is no "best strain for PCOS" or any other condition; if you want something high in CBD, simply type "CBD strains" in to Leafly.com or Wikileaf.com & see what pops up.  The majority of medical strains are selected for their soaring THC content, usually upwards of 19%, so that's not hard to find.  Much is made of the Sativa/Indica distinction but research has shown that most strains are a hybrid of both these days.  Terpene content is the most accurate indicator of effects:  limonene & pinene are associated with a more uplifting, focused & invigorating effect while linalool, myrcene & caryophyllene are more pain-relieving & relaxing.  These terpenes can be detected just by smelling the buds in many cases. 


Breaking It Down

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Understanding cannabis helps you rise above the BS.

Not all cannabis & hemp products are created equal, especially when it comes to CBD.  This booming market is entirely unregulated & products often contain little or none of the CBD advertised on the label.  Oils, gummies & topical formulations are less concentrated & thus less likely to be effective than isolates that contain 98-99% pure CBD in solid form.  As for route of administration, sublingual (under the tongue) and vaporized are the most direct way to ingest CBD so it bypasses first-pass metabolism & isn't destroyed by stomach acid.

If you prefer full-spectrum effects, you can smoke hemp/CBD flower which contains all the other cannabinoids & terpenes that occur naturally in the plant.  Both hemp flower & CBD isolate are legal in all 50 states, though full-spectrum CBD products can cause you to fail a drug test since they contain trace amounts of THC.  If this is a problem for you, stick to isolates.  Always choose brands that offer 3rd party lab tests for pesticides, heavy metals & diluents like Vitamin E acetate.

As for THC, I find that most products from licensed medical dispensaries are reliable in the general sense.  If you're new to THC, always start low & go slow so you don't trigger a panic attack.  According to Leafly.com, THC sensitivity is highest in the first two weeks of your cycle (the Estrus Phase) & decreases a bit during the 2nd two weeks (Diestrus Phase).  In my case, THC makes me paranoid & aggravates my migraines if taken during Week 3 of my cycle (PMS week) when I already feel moody.  I respond best during period time (Week 4) and neutrally during the Estrus Phase.  Everyone is different so keeping a journal can help you track your progress & reactions during various points in your cycle.

Here is a great list of weed products for endometriosis & vulvodynia pain.  I've reviewed several THC edibles & other medicinals that I loved from medical dispensaries in my state, as well as some CBD products that offer lab testing & are affordable.  If you live in an illegal state, you'll have to obtain your weed from the black market.  Always opt for plain bud in the black market & avoid THC vape carts since they're often contaminated with toxic lung-injurious agents like mineral oil or Vitamin E acetate.  Sadly, even edibles can be laced with fentanyl & other deadly cuts these days, hence why plain flower is the safest bet.  It's not common but fentanyl analogues have turned up in every illegal drug on the market so better not to risk it.



Weed Where the Sun Don't Shine

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Cannabis tampon

Two products I'm dying to try are cannabis suppositories & weed "tampons".  Sounds weird but it also makes sense that putting the medicine close to the source of pain would be most effective.  Tommy Chong uses weed suppositories to treat his rectal cancer, as he attested to in a recent interview.  (He's also covering his bet with chemo & other proven treatments which is important to note).  One suppository costs $20 at my local dispensary so I haven't gotten around to trying them yet, but I'll post a review when I do.  There have been times I've hurt so bad I considered going to the ER for endometriosis pain & nausea & weed was the only thing that touched the pain.  I highly recommend it for acute pain caused by uterine spasms in endometriosis & PCOS.

I've heard from a prominent weed reviewer online that the Foria suppositories were messy & not worth the money.  When all else fails, smoking some good old flower is a reliable & fast way to treat severe pain or nausea associated with menstrual problems.  I find that THC worsens my migraine pain slightly, especially when taken during Week 3 of my cycle.  That's easily remedied by substituting CBD isolate during that week.  As a side note:  CBD has been a more effective preventative for my migraines than Topiramate or anything else, though it may not work for everyone.  It won't abort a migraine in progress but it does reduce the overall number of them when taken daily & consistently.  Your mileage may vary.


Summary

So what's hope & what's hype?  Every lady will have to determine that for herself, as we're all unique & have different needs.  I will say that many product lines are overpriced & don't have any benefits that can't be gotten for much cheaper elsewhere.  Once you understand the basics of THC & CBD, you can cut through the marketing hype much easier.  For instance:  'Hemp seed oil' is not the same as 'Hemp oil' & contains no CBD.  Many CBD companies use deceptive labeling to mislead buyers into thinking they've got a medicinal CBD product when they don't.  Always look for the actual mg of CBD in the product; not the mL of oil or total weight of the product.  If it's not listed, put it back.

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Don't be fooled:  Hemp seed oil does not contain CBD.

Ditto for THC & whole cannabis--if the label or budtender can't tell you whether an item is full-spectrum or how it was extracted (or whatever major detail you want to know), don't buy it.  Don't pay a premium for essential oils or other expensive additives; you can always add those yourself if you want.  Topical products like lotions & bath salts can be tempting to try, but taking cannabis internally is by far the most effective route.  There are cannabinoid receptors in the skin but they absorb weed products so slowly you aren't likely to detect any noticeable effect (with the exception of vaginal or rectal use, which can cause a psychoactive effect if the THC dose is high enough).  Topicals are most effective for skin conditions like eczema, hives, shingles & others that are merely "skin-deep".

If you have severe menstrual or related conditions, weed alone is unlikely to be a total cure but it can be a useful tool in your toolbox.  The risks are relatively low compared to most prescription & OTC treatment options so you may as well try it.

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