For some women, their monthly period is regularly preceded by pain and suffering. Premenstrual syndrome can induce a gamut of unpleasant physical symptoms, including headaches and migraines, bloating, insomnia, fatigue and pain. Emotional changes, such as mood swings and episodes of hostility and anger, often accompany these symptoms. While women may find some relief by taking medication and making lifestyle changes, but symptoms may also be relieved with medical marijuana if lifestyle changes are not enough.
PMS symptoms occur one to two weeks before the start of a period and sometimes symptoms continue through the period. While the cause of PMS is not certain, hormonal fluctuations appear to play an important role. Changes in hormone levels affect brain chemistry, and because cannabinoids from medical cannabis mimic the endocannabinoid system of the body, research indicates that medical marijuana may help combat some PMS symptoms.
In 2009, Josee Guindon and Andrea G. Hohmann of the University of Georgia published a summary of research on the endocannabinoid system and pain in "CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets." Results show that cannabinoids closely resemble anandamide, one of the body's natural endocannabinoids that turns on nerve receptors affecting movement, nausea and other functions. Because of this resemblance, researchers are studying whether the cannabinoids in medical marijuana have similar effects in the body.
The focus of research has been on two specific cannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the feelings of euphoria marijuana users get, while CBD relaxes the mind and body.
The highest concentration of cannabinoid receptors is in the parts of the brain that affect pleasure, sensory perception, and movement. It's thought that cannabidiol (CBD), may suppress the headaches and pain of PMS, and the relaxing effect makes it useful for treating insomnia and sleeplessness.
In studies of cancer patients, THC has been shown to reduce nausea and stimulate appetite. It may also inhibit the release of serotonin, a cause of migraines. THC can also help sufferers avoid the unpleasant side effects of triptans such as dizziness and an "out of body" sensation that some people experience.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that 5 to 10 percent of menstruating women suffer significant impairment because of PMS. These women welcome more, and better, treatments for their symptoms, and medical marijuana may just be the answer.