Mary Jane and Aunt Flo

For people who suffer from cramps, cannabis could be a vital source of relief.

Ah, periods. Nature’s painful, messy, emotionally exhausting way of thanking your body every month for taking on the burden of propagating the species. But here’s a suggestion from your friendly neighborhood weed witch: Integrating cannabis into your monthly self-care routine could be the most effective way of mitigating PMS, cramps, and other elements of that “special visit from Aunt Flo.”

First, a little science. Nowhere near enough research has been done in the area of cannabis’ effects on reproductive and hormonal systems in humans, but what little data we have points to some exciting possibilities. A 1983 study in the journal Sterility and Fertility showed evidence that cannabis can reduce the body’s production of progesterone, a hormone found in high amounts in people who experience severe PMS. Nearly 25 years later, another study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology revealed weed can also affect the creation of other important hormones known as prolactin and cortisol, which also may influence the severity of PMS symptoms.

This all kicked off with studies conducted in the late 1970s by Carol Smith and Theresa Siler-Khodr, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, that suggested cannabis could suppress fertility during ovulation by inhibiting the creation of a hormone critical to the ovulation process, known as a luteinizing hormone, which directly controls what you experience during the premenstrual phase (aka the luteal phase, aka “the war zone”) of your period. And if all that wasn’t cool enough, that luteinizing hormone could also shorten the overall length of the period.

So how do you bring this wonderful plant into your period- or hormone-maintenance playbook? Weed can be used to address all the fun stuff that occurs throughout hormonal fluctuations, like mood swings, cramps, nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and fatigue. Thanks to the mind-boggling array of processors in Washington, you have hundreds of choices of canna-centric period products.

If you have to leave the house and deal with people, try a topical. Our city has a great selection of products. I have really enjoyed the Relief Lotion from Ceres Gardens, named after the Roman goddess of the harvest. It’s easy to rub in, isn’t oily, and smells great. But I also encourage you to try to make your own pot-potion. There’s something special about creating a balm to rub on your body to deal with the aches and pains of life. If you do make your own, keep it extra-witchy by adding beeswax—sacred to goddesses and ultra-luxurious for your skin.

Pro tip: If you don’t already, start tracking your period so you can study your ovulation cycle. Then you can plan when to include cannabinoids in your system for maximum effect. Talk with a naturopath and your favorite budtender, and investigate on your own to dial in just the right strains for the best levels of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. And remember to pick methods that aim for a whole-plant experience, to take advantage of the “entourage effect,” which produces more of a full-body high.

Of course, smoking, vaping, or dabbing your favorite strains while curling up under a blanket with a bowl of ice cream or a bag of edibles and binge-watching Broad City is also a completely legitimate way to deal with cramps and mood swings.

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