• How can you use cannabis to hack your period cramps?

    Cannabis is best used as an analgesic so consider consuming indica cannabis strains to relax the muscles. Otherwise, use cannabis topicals for localised pain relief.

  • How can you use food to reduce period pain?

    Foods that support liver health can be really helpful — eat lots of cruciferous vegetables and antioxidant rich fruits like goji berries, blackberries, and beetroots.

  • Which herbs can be helpful with period pain?

    Ginger is a great herb to increase blood flow. Consider adding cinnamon, motherwort, crampbark and dandelion root. These can all help promote the flow of the period.

  • Any other tips?

    Make a ritual out of your period hack. Take a few minutes to drink that cup of tea or have a cannabis-infused bath and focus on relaxing your muscles. Having a ritual can help you develop a better relationship with your period and reduce PMS and period pain.

There’s absolutely no reason why something as natural as a period should be uncomfortable, dreaded, or hated. But for a lot of women it is this way. It’s even been somewhat ingrained into women that period pain is normal. But does that sound right to you? Getting a period is as natural and normal as going to the toilet or sleeping — so why is pain considered normal? 

There are some biological explanations for painful periods. Diseases like endometriosis, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory conditions can cause women to have painful periods. Less obvious things like hormone imbalances can also play a role for women who develop period pain later in life, too. But for most women, period pain is just an accepted monthly occurrence that seems to happen spontaneously — sometimes bad, sometimes average, sometimes not at all. 

In herbal medicine, we take a little tangent from plain old biology. The foods we eat and the toxins we surround ourselves with can alter the consistency of our body fluids in very minute ways, altering the way all the tubes have to function to move those fluids. And after all — the body is just a bunch of tubes! With these concepts, you can learn how to hack your period cramps with cannabis, food, and herbs — a trifecta for menstruation self-care.

How does your lifestyle affect your period cramps?

@minimal.collage

Have you ever wondered how the turn of events in one of your menstrual cycles might affect your period cramps? For example, have you ever noticed that your period is heavy and painful after a particularly stressful month? Or a month that you perhaps weren’t taking very good care of your physical health with diet etc?

Our lifestyle choices can affect the way a period feels when it happens and the PMS leading up to it. The food we eat, the amount of alcohol and drugs we consume, whether or not we’re on the contraceptive pill, and how we relate to stress can all impact how painful a period is.

For example, did you know that it’s the liver’s job to metabolise hormones like estrogen? If your liver is overloaded (because of excessive drinking for example) and can’t do its job, those hormones get dumped back into the bowel and are resorbed into the bloodstream. Excess estrogen is linked to period pain and premenstrual symptoms. If the liver is struggling for whatever reason, it can be hard for the body to properly excrete hormones.

Other dietary factors can also play a role, such as iron levels. Anemia is also associated with period pain (remember that blood consistency we were talking about). In herbal medicine, seeing as iron is heating, we say that the blood becomes too cold. When that happens, it easily congeals, making clots that are painful for the uterus to excrete. 

The really good news is that I’ve got a few simple hacks for you to reduce your period cramps with cannabis and basic foods and herbs that you can find in the supermarket. I’ll give you tips on how and when to include these hacks throughout your cycle and the kind of benefits you can expect to see.

How to hack your period cramps with cannabis.

A collage art of women in a spa filled with rose petals and a giant cannabis plant in the background.
@headinthe_flowers

The major role that cannabis has to play in menstrual pain is that it is analgesic. It is a pain killer for most and a muscle relaxant, which can help to reduce the spasms in the uterus causing the pain. There is some evidence that cannabis can assist with endometriosis, but in terms of average period pain, it’s primary role is as a pain killer.

There are a few ways that you can use cannabis as pain relief for a period. You can consume cannabis with edibles or flower or oils, you can use cannabis topically, such as in a bath bomb, or you can use a cannabis suppository. All of these ways are outlined in this article about how to use cannabis for period pain.

But there’s one remedy that’s especially useful. And that’s a cannabis topical in the form of a bath bomb or bath salt. I say this because bath bombs and bath salts often contain magnesium, a mineral that is known to assist with period cramping and pain. It also happens to be that through the skin is the best way to absorb magnesium

Topical cannabis helps to reduce muscle spasms and provide localized pain relief. So as you’re probably imagining, cannabis and magnesium make a lovely pair in the bath tub for cramping muscles and period pain. 

For extra relaxation purposes, consider bringing your favourite indica vape to the tub with you. Indica strains are relaxing and sedative, giving your muscles and cerebrals a chance to relax and let it all flow. If you’re not into vaping, consider indica edibles as a sweet treat before jumping in the tub.

From the pantry.

300mg CBD Lavender Relax Bath Soak

The 300mg CBD Lavender Relax Bath Soak contains epsom salts (a form of magnesium), CBD, and lavender essential oils. It’s a perfect recipe for relaxation of the muscles and the central nervous system. It’s the perfect blend of cannabis and aromatherapy for period cramps or PMS.

Blueberry Kush Indica Vape Cart

Blueberry Kush is relaxing, sedative, and gets your appetite going. It’s the perfect precursor to relaxation — plus it tastes deliciously sweet so it makes it feel like a sweet treat. I recommend vaping gently while in the tub to intermingle all the forms of relaxation. 

How to hack your period cramps with food.

A collage art of Charlie Chaplin holding a golf club and a golf bag full of green beans. A concept of food and health.
@pedro_martinez_caravaca

I briefly mentioned how even just a weakened liver from toxins or drugs can affect how you metabolise hormones like estrogen or cortisol. So you can also use food to strengthen your metabolic processes, build your blood, and regulate hormones. 

The first step is the obvious, albeit difficult one. Avoid processed carbohydrates and refined sugars as much as possible. But carbohydrates themselves are actually very important for menstruating women — so enjoy lots of whole grains, vegetables and legumes. 

If you’re not eating red meat, it’s important to consider from which sources you’re getting bioavailable iron and Vitamin B6. Omega-3 and Omega-6, which are essential fatty acids that can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, are also important for menstruating women. Regular consumption or supplementation with essential fatty acids is also thought to help with period cramps and PMS.

Throughout your cycle, include lots of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts and similar leafy greens) as these vegetables are liver heroes. They help the body eradicate toxins, they contain antioxidants, and they help to reduce inflammation. Cruciferous vegetables are able to do this because they contain compounds called indoles. In addition to broccoli, enjoy all matter of purple fruits and vegetables. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, goji berries and beetroots should be a big part of the diet of a woman with PMS and period cramps. Think about the colour of blood and how these fruits resemble that!

Seed cycling.

Seed cycling is a regime that rotates between certain edible seeds throughout the menstrual cycle. It is controversial in that there’s no scientific evidence yet that this technique is effective. It’s rumoured to work by regulating the estrogen-progesterone ratio, two hormones which dominate the menstrual cycle. It’s a simple, naturopathic regimen.

How to seed cycle

Let’s start on the basic premise of a 28 day period. Even if you don’t know period biology very well, imagine it as one cycle with two halves. In the first half, your body is preparing for ovulation and in the second half, it’s either pregnant or it’s preparing to menstruate. They’re separated by a fertile period of a couple of days when fertilization is possible. 

Day 1 marks the beginning of your period. Between days 1 and 14, your body should be producing a lot of estrogen to prepare for ovulation. So each day for days 1-14, eat 1-2 tablespoons of flax and pumpkin seeds. These seeds contain plant-derived estrogen and can help the body boost estrogen levels. 

Between days 14-28, progesterone prepares the uterine lining to thicken and be expelled. So in this part of the cycle, naturally progesteronic seeds are used to help boost progesterone levels and bring on a smooth period. For these 14 days, you can eat 1-2 tablespoons of sesame and sunflower seeds

Use the seeds however you want — in smoothies, on salads, blended into seed butter. It’s entirely your choice. It’s important to remember that hormones aren’t the same as neurotransmitters. They’re slower acting. It can take up to 3 months for hormone levels to regulate and for the benefits of foods to be observed on period health.

How to hack period cramps with herbs.

An illustration of a jar full of orange slices; a concept of how to hack your period cramps with herbs.
@palulosse

Remember earlier when I mentioned how the consistency of blood can change ever so slightly as well as its “temperature”, so to speak? This is where herbs come in. Think about blood as a fluid. When fluids are warm, they are soft, flowing, and move easily through passages. When they are cold and hardened or thick, they don’t easily travel through passages. We can use herbs to help warm the blood so that it can be expelled easily.

If you haven’t already, you should drink ginger tea on the days you get your period. You can drink it every morning if you like, but it’s an especially useful herb when you’re experiencing period pain. 

Consider adding cinnamon, crampbark, dandelion root, or motherwort to your herbal tea, as well. These are uterine tonics and blood stimulants while crampbark is an analgesic and muscle relaxant. Add some rose petals or chamomile flowers to soothe the soul at the same time. 

Make a ritual out of your period hacks.

All of these period hacks will be even more effective if you can manage to make a ritual out of them. By that, I mean turning your bath into a consciously relaxing experience and not just a “prescribed activity”. Same goes with the foods and the herbs. When you’re drinking your tea or your smoothie, sit down with it and take time to focus on yourself and your body.

The ritual part connects you better to your period. Seed cycling even helps you follow and track the days of your period. This is another way to tune into cycles, your own cycle, the moon cycle, and the ritual that is a monthly bleed. When you have your period, indulge yourself and don’t work too hard. The more you can relax, the less pain you’ll experience and the freer you’ll feel.

Do you already have some period pain rituals? What are your favourite hacks for period cramps or which ones did you try? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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