Menstrual cycles or periods are generally associated with mood swings, tolerable pain in the lower abdomen, and discomfort. While these symptoms occur every month, and their impact can come in the way of your daily routine. According to a study conducted on women’s health, about 84 percent of women complained of menstrual pain or dysmenorrhea during their periods. And a study published by the British Medical Journal reported that menstrual cramps, mood fluctuations, and heavy bleeding result in about 9 days of low productivity among women. However, there are modern solutions to these problems in the form of allopathic medicines and other new-age healthcare facilities, often associated with negative or harmful side effects in the long term. This has led to the search for a better alternative with zero side effects for a pain-free period. Research has led businesses to find an herbal and ayurvedic alternative to help with period cramps. Medicines like Trailokya Vijaya Vati, a form of medicinal cannabis have been developed in India which works on the soft tissue muscles and relieves pain due to the presence of medicinal cannabis.
In India, menstruation is a stigmatized topic and often ignored. Hence menstrual pain and its remedy are as good as absent. But for women it is a huge part of their life, impacting their social and professional life for these 6-9 days every month. As described by women, period cramps are as bad as having mild heart attacks and in an average life span of a woman, there are about 450 menstrual cycles. And with only harmful medicines as an available solution in the market, makes it an important issue to find solutions for at the earliest. Ayurvedic companies are investing in R&D and venturing into safe medicines that do not have any side effects in the short or the long time and are compatible with the needs of the modern lifestyle. The work involves creating products that elevate the potential of the cannabis plant for medicinal use.
Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes
The efforts of period pain relief medicines will deem purposeful for about 35 million women, which is a huge scope for development. The cannabinoids are the chemicals present in the Cannabis Sativa plant which are used to cure diseases like insomnia, chronic pain, menstrual cramps, anxiety epilepsy, muscle pain, multiple sclerosis, mental health, and sexual disorders. These cannabinoids compound is observed by the body when inhaled or consumed to pass the blood-brain barrier and affects the brain directly.
The human body contains many cannabinoid receptors like CB1 and CB2, present not just in the central nervous system but also in kidneys, livers, lungs, and joints. Endocannabinoids, a naturally occurring compound attach themselves to these receptors. The endocannabinoid system which is present in the human body act in the regulation of inflammation and pain. The capacity of the cannabinoids to link themselves to the receptors will act in the same manner in dealing with pain and cramps.
The two variants of cannabinoids present in marijuana are:
• Cannabidiol (CBD) which is used to treat ailments and not cause a ‘high’.
• Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound which produces the psychoactive ‘high’ found in marijuana.
CBD and THC are both believed to be anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relief).
Evidence in support of Cannabis as a cure
As mentioned earlier, there is a lack of research on the medical benefits of cannabis in treating menstrual cramps. However, there is a long history of cannabis usage in gynecology dating back to the 19th century. Queen Victoria’s physician, Sir John Russell Reynolds used to prescribe a form of hemp tincture to help relieve the monarch’s menstrual cramps. It is still not clear how cannabis works to achieve pain relief, but menstrual cramps are caused by prostaglandins, an inflammatory compound released during the period cycle. Women with huge amounts of prostaglandins are more prone to severe cramps.
Modern medicines like Celebrex and Advil (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) which are used to treat menstrual pain, stop the production of prostaglandins in the system by attaching to the COX receptors in the tissues and the brain. But in contrast, THC and CBD (cannabinoids) do not tamper with the COX receptors and instead release dopamine in the brain to make one feel-good while tackling the problem of inflammation in the joints and nerves. This establishes the fact that the cannabinoids act beneficially in treating chronic pain and inflammatory disorders, even if the effect is smaller in comparison to NSAIDs.
Hence the stakes are high for the legal cannabis industry that is rapidly growing in the world. With the global business of the Marijuana market predicted to reach over 150 billion by 2025, this a scope to discover and venture into for the well-being of women’s health.