What is the menstrual cycle?
The menstrual cycle is the process which allows women to get pregnant and grow a healthy baby inside of them. Each month, a series of hormonal changes occur in the brain and uterus that create an environment for an egg to be fertilized and eventually grow from a fetus into a full human being.
The first day of a menstrual cycle is the first day of the period. In this phase, the uterus sheds its lining because no egg was fertilized and no pregnancy will occur. After bleeding has stopped, usually not after the 7th day, the hormone estrogen begins to slowly build up. This rise in estrogen causes the ovaries to begin working to produce a mature egg, which happens about a week after the period has ended, during ovulation.
Ovulation coincides with a steep increase of both estrogen and LH, a hormone that causes the ovaries to produce a mature egg. At the moment of ovulation, estrogen levels fall and this causes a spike in progesterone. Progesterone’s role is to continue the work of estrogen in building up the uterine wall in preparation for the newly-secreted egg to become fertilized and attach itself to the lining of the uterus as a fetus.
If the egg is not fertilized within 24 hours of its release, it will die. Sperm, however, can live for 3-5 days inside the uterus, so that is why the 4-6 days leading up to ovulation are the most fertile. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone levels will gradually fall over the last two weeks of the cycle. This leads to the symptoms of PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, which is the collective group of symptoms many women experience during their cycle.
Progesterone, or rather its absence, tells the uterus to shed its lining and prepare for the next ovulation. However, the drop in all of these hormones throws the entire endocrine system out of balance. There is very little predictable features of this process, and we actually know very little about why the specific symptoms of PMS occur when and how they do. Nonetheless, just like many other homeostatic disorders, PMS has an affinity for relief with CBD.
CBD and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
CBD has shown a strong propensity for treating a plethora of conditions and disorders that arise from unknown origin, or involve a component of homeostasis, such as hormones. The one common denominator of PMS symptoms is the hormones released by the pituitary gland that control the menstrual cycle, namely estrogen and progesterone.
These hormones are instrumental in the female body, and they are closely tied to mood and behavior motivation, and even muscle and kidney function. When they fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, the effect on mood and behavior manifests itself as PMS in severe cases. CBD attenuates the negative repercussions of this process by reducing excitation in the part of the brain that is controlled by these hormones.
CBD and menstrual cramps
One of the most common symptoms of the menstrual cycle is pain and cramping, or dysmenorrhoea. This is caused by muscle contractions in the uterine wall that help to shed the cells and fluid lining it. This can cause intense pain as these muscles are not usually active at any other time.
Analgesic drugs such as motrin and tylenol act in various ways on the peripheral and central nervous systems. Similarly, CBD interacts with the receptors in your brain and immune system. Receptors are simply proteins embedded in cell walls that bind with specific chemical signals from different stimuli and then produce a specific response within your cells.
It is thought that anandamide, which binds to CB, cannabinoid receptors, is not produced when progesterone is the dominant hormone, about a week after ovulation up until the onset of the period; this time period also coincides with menstrual cramps.
Painkillers bind with opioid receptors that produce a strong dopamine response that makes them highly addictive. CBD works in a different way, by reducing the sporadic firing and contractions that produce muscle cramps. It synchronizes your muscles so they work more efficiently for you. CBD is also reduces inflammation through several mechanisms of action, which definitely plays a role in its reduction of period discomfort.
CBD and hormone regulation
Due to the continuous fluctuation in several hormones (inc. progesterone), a wide array of symptoms like mood swings, irritation, frustration, pain, and cramps trouble women around their periods.
Certain studies suggest that CBD may weaken the level of progesterone during the luteal phase. It also can decrease levels of the stress hormones prolactin and cortisol. These hormones cause muscles to fire sporadically, which is likely why period cramps can be so painful for some.
CBD and embryonic implantation
Significant research has proved that anandamide levels fluctuate predictably throughout the duration of the monthly cycle, and the levels are at their lowest during the “implantation window”, or the time period during and following ovulation, when the .
CBD appears to have the capability not only to inhibit ovulation but also to prevent implantation of fertilized eggs in the endometrium. These are the corroborated elements which suggest that there could be tremendous potency for it.