Before they tell you it’s all in your head, cramps occur in the muscles. Muscles have parallel protein filaments: protein myosin and protein actin. Myosin is thick, and actin is thin. Ideally, they ripple with involuntary contractions like the peristalsis in our intestines.
The tadpole-shaped myosin proteins drive the contraction. The sphere-shaped actin proteins twist around each other in long chains against which the myosin proteins can bind and push. This simplifies the fundamental mechanics of the body’s muscles. The mechanism and composition of the muscles differ among the three types: skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscles. And, it’s the smooth muscles that link to menses.
Disruption = pain
These muscles respond to any number of adverse conditions. They do their duty despite exercise, daily work, and normal diet. However, injury, strain, or changes in biochemistry will cause pain. Women can bruise the uterus with injuries that impact the lower abdomen or pelvic area. That bruising may aggravate and inflame the uterine wall painfully.
Physically hard work may build tolerance over time, but it can strain or stretch the uterine smooth muscle on any given day. And, changes in the diet will introduce irritating chemicals through metabolism and blood flow.
Menses is an involuntary process that prepares the uterus for the possibility of fertilization and pregnancy. On the first day of the menstruation cycle, the tissue lining the uterus breaks down and flushes from the uterus with a flow of blood. The bleeding lasts an average of five days while estrogen levels also drop, sometimes prompting depression and irritability.
Hormones regulate menstruation. The pituitary gland produces luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones that trigger ovulation and initiate estrogen and progesterone production. So far, so good! But other factors can interfere with hormone production and deployment.
Prostaglandins cause the uterine muscles to contract and release the uterine lining once a month. For some women, the body produces too many prostaglandins worsening the contractions and related pain, a condition labeled “dysmenorrhea.” It follows then that the production of prostaglandins helps determine the degree of pain.
Hypothalamic amenorrhea is an anomaly complicating the lives of top-flight female athletes. Many of them stop producing the hormones that stimulate uterine functioning, so their periods stop. These already lean women have less fat to absorb the hormones. Without estrogen production bones thin to develop osteoporosis, especially concerning among young athletes who building bone mass. The low or missing estrogen also presents a cardiovascular risk. Clearly, balance is vital to maintaining uterine function and reducing irritation.
PMS afflicts millions of women even though it does not affect most. It simplifies the suffering to say that PMS is an exaggeration of the symptoms of normal menstruation. Nonetheless, approximately 80 percent of the women who suffer from very serious anxiety and/or depression. Others deal with sore breasts, bloating, and swollen ankles from hyper-hydration resulting from serotonin imbalance. And, it may be accompanied by serious migraines, exhaustion, lower back pain, and more.
Potassium and magnesium help some patients deal with pain. There may be relief in a low-inflammatory diet replacing nightshade vegetables with cruciferous ones. Some are using St. John’s Wort, Chasteberry, Lemon Balm, and other natural supplements.
Mayo Clinic recommends consulting a doctor if the PMS symptoms are serious to severe for treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for depression and anxiety, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for cramps and muscular/skeletal pain, diuretics for hyper-hydration, and hormonal contraceptives which stop ovulation.
And, some women report relief from acupuncture or chiropractic care.
And, cannabis, too?
Cannabis may hold enough THC to get your mind off the pain of menstruation and PMS. But cannabis with high CBD has a concentrated anti-inflammatory effect. The benefits of cannabis are available in enough consumable forms to make anyone comfortable with use.
Here are 5 strains recommended for period pain:
- Black Cherry Cheesecake is a hybrid of Black Cherry Soda and Cherry Pie with a touch of Cheese. It offers two to three-hour relaxation thanks to its heavy Indica load. It’s for a try after dinner or just before bed. 2.) Black Cherry Cheesecake: A cross between Black Cherry Soda X Cherry Pie, crossed with Cheese.
- Jelly Bean works great during the day because it helps you reduce stress and become social and creative. It’s a sativa-dominant hybrid from Orange Skunk and Space Queen with a great sweet taste or citrus candy.
- Sweet Tooth is a High Times Cannabis Cup Winner with happy and uplifting effects. It’s yummy sweet for chasing stress and headaches. It crossed Hawaiian and Afghani with a bit of Nepali for an Indica-dominant strain with more than its share of THC. It will improve your mood, relieve stress and depression, and fight pain. But it may be too much for a first-time user.
- Lamb’s Bread has a major CBD content, a sativa-dominant with a pungent skunky smell. It will hit fast and powerfully with a euphoria that settles quickly into focused and energized creativity. People use to fight insomnia, inflammation, and migraines as well as stress and depression.
- Django is a perfectly-balanced hybrid cross between Jack Flash and Blueberry, this sativa dominant strain is an incredibly potent strain hybrid. It offers a cerebral high for women whose periods create muscle pain, spasms, and stress. You’ll want to save Django for nap or bedtime.
There other favorites like Bruce Banner, Blue Dream, and Dutch Treat. But you must think of other issues, too. If you find smoking an irritant, you should stay away from it. You can opt for sublingual CBD oil or capsules. You can ease some pains and discomfort with CBD lotions and transdermal patches. Or, you can try an edible for discrete consumption even at work.
Finally, you can tell me what I don’t know about PMS as a man or share what strains have worked for you!