By Toni Brannagan
Note: Before you try any form of cannabis, check your local and state laws. CBD products made from industrial hemp are legal within the U.S. as long as they contain less than 0.3% THC.
It seems like CBD is *everywhere* these days, promising miracle cure after miracle cure. (Seriously, bodega CBD oil? Nah.)
I don’t know about you, but I’m still not exaaactly sure how CBD works… or if it can deliver on all the promises to cure all my period woes, that some super aggressive targeted Instagram ads keep claiming.
Intent on demystifying CBD, our period specialist extraordinaire, the radiant Dani Berkowitz from our PMS Weekly series on Instagram!), hit up Charlotte Palermino from Nice Paper, a platform that helps educate people about everything CBD and cannabis, and the social justice issues that surround those subjects.
Dani: Let’s start with the basics — what does CBD stand for?
Charlotte: In its most layman terms, CBD (or Cannabidiol) is found in both hemp and cannabis. It’s one of the most predominant chemicals in this plant, and depending on the strain, you’re going to find different levels of CBD. Hemp, however, has high CBD, and very low THC.
CBD is just a chemical compound, and you actually already produce very similar compounds to what’s found in weed. Everybody has an endocannabinoid system that is responsible for a looot of shit like regulating your mood, and even digestion and fertility. It attaches to your neural receptors, and your brain — CBD activates these receptors, and some of the research shows that it helps with things like inflammation and serotonin regulation.
Dani: So, let’s say I have really bad cramps — if I were to use CBD as a way to alleviate that, how would it work for me and my body?
Charlotte: Everybody’s endocannabinoid system is unique, so it’s hard to say exactly how CBD would work for other people, but I can speak to my personal experience.
For me, I have debilitating pain, my legs actually go numb, my back locks up, all those fun things. So, I actually take a lot of CBD every day. I take about 100 milligrams of full-spectrum hemp under my tongue, and I smoke hemp pre-rolls. (I’m half-French, my family smoked cigarettes around me, it’s a way for me to never pick up a pack of Marlboro Lights ever again.)
So for me, I take the full spectrum tincture, which I put under my tongue. I’ll also use a trans-dermal patch from a dispensary with a very high milligram dosage. It’s almost like a nicotine patch. With something like CBD edibles, you’d have to eat a lot order to feel the effects, because of something called your first-pass metabolism.
Anybody who’s ever had a THC edible knows that when you eat THC, you get high, and it’s because of how THC gets processed in your digestive system. CBD actually just breaks down. With CBD edibles, only 6% of what you’re eating gets into your bloodstream. With a tincture, you’ll get around 27%, maybe a little bit higher. With trans-dermals though, you don’t have to go through any metabolism.. Again, it’s what works best for you — so, I use a mixture of topicals and sublinguals to stop me from taking, like, 40 Advils.
Dani: Can you tell me a little bit about what your experience is in consulting people with endometriosis, PMDD, or PCOS?
Charlotte: I’ve connected with a lot of people that have general pain. One really interesting case was vaginismus. People were able to use CBD lube to help them with their muscle contractions, so some were able to have penetrative sex for the first time. Or, non-painful sex for the first time. Women are often expected to live with pain, as if that’s just the cards we’ve been dealt, but at the end of the day, there is a pain gap we should be able to bridge, and cannabis is really exciting for that.
For endometriosis or other very serious health concerns, you should see a doctor, but what I will say is that CBD is not a one-and-done. You need to take it every day. It’s not going to do anything if you take a 25 milligram gummy bear one time. I would suggest starting by testing, preferably when you’re not already on your period and your pain threshold is at its highest. I’ve personally found that CBD results in a dampening of pain — the pain won’t completely go away.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity, but Charlotte had a whooole lot more to teach us—and she even brought along some pretty cool recs to show-and-tell—so don’t forget to check out the whole interview on our IGTV.
Do you use CBD or cannabis to manage your period pain? What are your faves? Share them with us in the comments.