New York state lawmakers are set to approve cannabis treatment for menstrual cramps. Medical cannabis is already legal in 29 American states, and is used to treat or ease symptoms of a variety of conditions.
In addition, US companies like Whoopi & Maya already manufacture cannabis based products aimed at women, including tinctures and balms.
The proposed bill states: “Medical marijuana can alleviate many of the painful effects of dysmenorrhea,” the medical term for pain associated with menstruation.
“Not only will this improve women’s wellbeing and productivity during menstruation, but it will advance New York State in one of the country’s fastest growing industries.”
Despite these claims, The Guardian notes that Dr Penny Whiting, lead author of a large systematic review on the medicinal uses of cannabinoids confirms that there is still no research showing that cannabis relieves period pains, which should come as no surprise. There is still a dearth of research surrounding the many ways anecdotal evidence would suggest people are currently self-medicating with cannabis (whether its legal or not).
The Guardian‘s Dr Dillner explains how cannabis products could be used for this treatment:
“Period cramps are caused by the release of prostaglandins that trigger muscle cramps in the uterus. These cramps reduce the blood supply to the uterus and cause painful spasms.” In US states where things like cannabis tampons are already legal, women have reported that the tampons, which contain both THC and CBD, relieve their symptoms within 20 minutes.
“The cells lining the vaginal wall absorb the cannabinoids and may block the nerves from carrying pain signals to the brain. Local absorption is also meant to reduce any psychoactive high from the drug,” she explains.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, menstrual cramping is very common, and is severe enough to interfere with daily activities for up to 20% of women, yet there remain very few other existing medical treatments for dysmenorrhea.
The Daily Mail spoke to gynaecologist Dr Lauren Streicher about the frustrating lack of research:
“Patients ask me about it all the time. It could be that in five years it’s the first thing I recommend. But right now we need a trial into it. There simply isn’t enough research to say one way or the other.”
It remains to be seen whether research will prove the efficacy of cannabis for period pain, but it is clear the the UK continues to lag behind the US and other countries in research and legislation on cannabis that could help treat conditions where other medications are failing, and save people from suffering unneccesary pain.
Raquel Morton is a staff writer at Volteface.