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Legal or Not, Can Marijuana Truly Help Relieve Period Cramps?

If marijuana wasn’t illegal, would you use it to alleviate period cramps?

Published
Her Health
4 min read
If marijuana wasn’t illegal, would you use it to alleviate period cramps?
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Period gods have always had a conflicted relationship with the female kind. If afflicting us with streams of red wasn’t sufficient, vaginal and stomach cramps also arrived at the party.

For some women, one way to appease the period gods is to make regular offerings of chocolate. For others, it’s hot water bottles/pads and electric blankets, masquerading as little pieces of heaven against the stomach. And of course, there are desi, dadima ka nuskhas like eating misri or drinking lots of warm fluids.

Period cramps are no small business, with the pain ranging from minor to excruciating.
Period cramps are no small business, with the pain ranging from minor to excruciating.
(Gif Courtesy: Giphy.com)

However, there are times when all of it fails. Period cramps are no small business, with the pain ranging from minor to excruciating.

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We continue to look for solutions to help women during the monthly visit by the scarlet brigade and that’s why when someone mentions the word cannabis, we sit up and pay attention.

What is Cannabis?

Technically, cannabis is the product of the cannabis plant also called cannabis sativa. It is responsible for three products in return:

  • Marijuana
  • Hashish
  • Hashish oil

They are all products of the same plant differentiated by the part of the plant which serves as their source and process of making them.

Period Cramps

One in every ten women get cramps that are severe enough to leave them immobile, according to Pub Med Health.

In 10 out of 100 women the pain is so bad that they are unable to carry out their usual daily activities on one to three days every month.
Pub Med Health

It comprises two types of period pain - one that occurs due to womb muscle contractions. The second kind is caused by reasons (which can be several depending on individual medical history) other than these contractions.

Women have resorted to pain killers, contraceptives and anti-inflammatory drugs since time immemorial to treat them.

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But Why Are We Talking About Periods and Marijuana Together?

Marijuana is a form of cannabis which is believed to help women during periods by easing the blood flow and alleviating cramps. However, the lack of research in the field prevents any definite conclusions.

Dr Lauren Streicher, a UK based gynecologist, commented about the lack of research in the field, to Daily Mail Online:

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.

Additionally, there are speculations about how marijuana increases the chances of psychosis and mental illness, according to a report by The Conversation.

On the other hand, the drug is believed to have a calming effect, along with serving as a remedy for nausea, vomiting, anxiety and muscle pain (all symptoms common before and during periods), according to a report by The Times of India. Similar observations about nausea and anxiety, and marijuana, were also made by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

If marijuana wasn’t illegal, would you use it to alleviate period cramps?
If marijuana wasn’t illegal, would you use it to alleviate period cramps?
(Gif Courtesy: Giphy.com)

However, there is no standard scientific basis for any of these claims, especially in India, where the country has refrained from legalising medical marijuana.

When FIT tried reaching out to doctors for a comment on whether or not marijuana can help during periods, they declined. While international faces like Bob Marley, Whoopi Goldberg, and of course, Snoop Dog, have openly spoken in support of legalising the drug, the narrative clearly still remains an unexplored one in the country.

Goldberg has in fact taken the conversation a little ahead by launching an entire range of cannabis-based products called ‘Whoopi & Maya’, to help women during menstruation. It includes balms, tinctures and bath salts that can be bought and used in selected parts of the US.

However, remember at all times (and repeat under your breath) - marijuana is illegal in India.

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Marijuana in India

While other countries, including some parts of the US (29 states out of 50) have legalised medical marijuana, the situation is significantly different back home.

The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, bans all narcotic drugs in India. In the process, cannabis is put in the same category as hard drugs where only a gram or two of cannabis can land you with five to 20 years of imprisonment.

There are several arguments for legalising marijuana. For instance, it could increase employment opportunities in terms of the local and inter-state trade of the drug and that it’s not fatal or physiologically addictive like other hard drugs.

However, one of the biggest hurdles that India faces when it comes to legalising the drug, is its massive population of over 1.3 billion. Controlling the circulation of narcotics in the hands of so many people is a herculean task. At the same time, no conclusive results about making marijuana accessible is possible without its legal availability. Hence the conundrum continues.

Have questions on sexual health? Write to us at SexEd@thequint.com and we will get experts to answer them for you.

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