In the throes of awful cramps, you might do just about anything to halt the pain. NSAIDs are the go-to painkillers for many women, but they aren’t necessarily the safest. The harmful side effects of over-the-counter pain relievers have been well documented. Kidney disease, gastrointestinal discomfort, those awful rebound headaches–they’re all some of the potentially nasty reactions. Understandably, some people choose to seek out alternative treatments to ease the pain, and CBD seems like a holy grail cure for those nauseating cramps.
CBD oil is, however, just a product. Which means someone, somewhere, is trying to sell it. And that means that the companies selling CBD try their best to market it to you, so consumers need to start asking questions. Are the pain-relieving effects of CBD backed by science? Are they just a gimmick, designed to take advantage of women in pain? Or maybe it’s something in between?
What is CBD and What Does it Do?
Before going further, it’s important to understand what CBD actually is. CBD stands for cannabidiol, a chemical compound from the Cannabis sativa plant. It’s extracted from the same plant that produces tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), except it’s not psychoactive. That’s why you’ll hear people say that CBD produces a similar effect as TCH, but without the “high.” And the DEA won’t bother you for having it, so it’s become an increasingly popular way to treat some illnesses and pains in the last couple of decades. Even in difficult economic circumstances, CBD sales continue to rise.
Cannabidiol isn’t associated with the negative side effects of THC, like memory loss or long-lasting cognitive damage. It’s reputed to help with several health conditions, including chronic pain and–which many women are really curious about–menstrual cramps. Also, you can find it in just about any form, from face masks to gummies to oils and fancy cannabidiol-infused coffee drinks. When it’s all you can do to crawl to the microwave to put your heating pad back in, a magical all-healing CBD face mask sounds pretty tempting.
Why is FDA Regulation Important?
It seems like a good deal so far, right? But the science behind whether or not CBD is effective (or as effective as the marketing professionals claim it is) is muddled. It hasn’t been heavily studied, and the tests performed on its healing properties have been small and often poorly designed. The product itself has been shown to have inconsistent levels of actual CBD, and some have contained illegal amounts of THC.
The internet is full of websites selling CBD products, where you can buy 30 ml for about $200 or more. Most of the companies make similar claims and follow the same formula. Essentially, If you have the extra cash, they say it can “promote focus and decrease tension,” etc., and rely on positive consumer testimonials to prove their value. But, as we know, there’s a big chance these claims weren’t tested properly.
This is where FDA regulation (or lack thereof) comes into play. The FDA “protects consumers by stopping unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in the marketplace,” which includes protecting consumers from false claims. But CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA, so they can essentially market their product in whatever way makes people buy it. And while all those positive customer reviews probably have a good deal of truth in them, the seller has one goal: to make lots of money. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, but they really need to stop marketing it as a miracle cure to crippling menstrual pain.
What are the Issues with CBD Prescriptions?
It’s inaccurate at best–not to mention a little insulting–to assume that all pain is created equal. While plenty of women successfully use CBD to manage some types of pain, it probably won’t cure the cramps you get from, say, endometriosis, or premenstrual migraines. There is no such thing as a “normal” period, and premenstrual symptoms are varied and difficult to pin down.
One complication is the lack of dosage information. Sellers suggest taking something like 12 mg of CBD sublingually to start, but many women find they need 30+ mg to even touch the pain they’re experiencing. Of course, for a price, you can contact the seller for a “dosage consultation,” but they usually aren’t doctors either. Finding the right dose to ease the discomfort will take a lot of trial and error, and at $200 per bottle, that’s an expensive experiment.
It’s also up to the consumer to research their CBD product to make sure it won’t interfere with any medication they’re already taking. Again, it’s important to remember that cannabidiol isn’t FDA regulated and hasn’t been extensively tested. It’s imperative that women who take SSRIs, for example, make sure that supplementing with CBD won’t disrupt the effects of their current prescribed treatment.
Overall, there is probably a lot of truth in those customer testimonials and reviews that CBD sellers love to display on their websites. It’s undoubtedly helped a lot of women deal with their painful cramps and other premenstrual symptoms, and it does have value as an alternative to over-the-counter medications. But it’s not the magical, agony-ending elixir that the marketers claim it is. They want to make money and are more than willing to embellish the benefits of CBD to do it. It’s necessary that women, and anyone else looking to use cannabidiol, discuss it with a medical professional who can recommend reliable sellers and prescribe an accurate dose.