If you’re a dude and squeamish about period talk, now’s the time to abandon this page. If you’re a female with a painful period, or a person with a significant-other lady that suffers on her monthly cycle, continue reading for some anecdotal insight to a solution.
For the last 8 years, I’ve struggled with the painful symptoms of Endometriosis, including but not limited to debilitating cramps, loss of sleep, nausea that causes severe vomiting and throwing up blood as a result of the vomiting. It’s been misdiagnosed as several things. The only way to get truly diagnosed with Endometriosis is through a surgical procedure, which I refuse to subject myself to.
I personally subscribe to an Eastern medicine thought process, which is quite different than how Western medicine diagnoses and treats anything.
If I chose to treat my symptoms with Western medicine, my only two options would be to treat the symptoms with an opioid prescription of hydrocodone, or get a uterine ablation (incinerating the walls of the uterus – which is basically sterilization).
I’ve been in the cannabis industry for over a decade, and neither of those treatments were options for me. I refuse to get hooked on Vicodin or it’s generic counterparts. In the past, when I have used hydrocodone, initially the drug is effective, until the part where you nod out and are no longer a useful person that day. Followed by severe constipation that induces further cramps that worsen the female cycle cramps.
I knew if I could find clean medicine, and find the right dose I could find a way to get my menstrual cycles under control. Each cycle year after year either remained the same pain level or increased in intensity.
I launched EdiblesList.com in 2010 to find healthy edibles and connect products with dispensaries and patients with products. Finding quality products became my mission, and I’m still looking for “healthy” edibles today.
Over the last ten years I’ve seen the cannabis industry change, expand, contract, and be completely overhauled. I’ve seen products take off and companies go out of business, and I’ve been ripped off and stolen from several times myself. I think ultimately, the industry has finally reached a point where products are mandated to be high-quality and companies are accountable for what they put out there because of regulation, licensing and testing.
This is the combination of efforts that I’ve found works for me, to keep my Endometriosis symptoms under control. It’s basically a combination of every type of delivery method available. You’ll see a lot of my options include products I make at home for myself.
• Cannabis Infused Bath Soak
Hot baths have always been my number one way to deal with my period. It’s the main way for me to reduce the cramping, and while I’m in the bath I’ll run freezing cold water on my belly and back to shock my system to stop the cramping. The body would rather feel cold than pain, so I’ll alternate back and forth with hot and cold. I prefer to use cannabis infused epsom salts rather than a bath bomb, as the coloring of the bath bomb tends to leave a residue in the tub. Om Edibles and Whoopi & Maya™ make some amazing options, you can also use epsom salts and add infused olive or coconut oil to the bath.
• Clean Cannabis Flower to Smoke
Ultimately, the fastest delivery method to absorb cannabis into your system is through the lungs. While some people might not like the idea of smoking, it’s the quickest and easiest way to start dosing without the potential of overdosing. If you have a smoking tolerance, taking a quick dab is an easy way to get a lot of cannabinoids in your system fast. I’m not a big fan of vaping, as my lungs are mucous sensitive with asthma-like symptoms, so any vapor in my lungs causes discomfort and can easily lead to bronchitis or pneumonia.
(high dose and home-made)
My tolerance is so high that 100mg edibles in the dispensary won’t cut it. They are too expensive, hard to obtain, contain weird chemicals and ingredients and require too many calories to be worth it. On the medical side, 500mg edibles are supposed to exist, but you still have to consume 5 times as much of the 100mg edible to get the dose. I like getting infused oil, or infusing oil myself, and then making my own gluten-free, vegan, and low-sugar edibles. It’s important to figure out your dose before you make your own edibles. Edibles aren’t for everyone, but when you’re dying in pain, sometimes the only way to get the amount of THC necessary to provide the appropriate analgesic effect is through consuming edibles. Dosing up to get the correct dose you need is a trial and error process. We recommend starting with a 5mg dose and then go from there. Depending on your metabolism the THC effect can be delayed.
• Cannabis Infused Topicals
Using topicals on my belly as often as possible helps with some of the cramps, but not all. Transdermal absorption is usually pretty quick, but it’s not always enough to penetrate the layers of skin to where the cramps are coming from. I’ve seen some companies use toxic chemicals like SLS and other additives like parabens that aren’t tested for by California testing companies. I would avoid companies and products that appeal to a recreational consumer, and stick to what appears medically branded.
• Cannabis Capsules
(both high THC and high CBD)
For me, I haven’t found the right ratio in a product on the shelf at legal dispensaries, so what I like to do is make my own THC capsules and supplement with Hemp CBD gel capsules to get what my body seems to need which is close to a 1:1 ratio.
• Cannabis Suppositories
(both THC and CBD)
The quickest way to the endocannabinoid system and cramps itself and where they originate is through the vagina. I use both THC and CBD capsules while in the bathtub. I’ve found that if I can start the suppositories before the period begins, the overall cycle is easier to keep under control. It typically sets into effect within 15 minutes and depending on the dose can get you way higher than on edibles. You have to be careful what type of product you’re using, if you’re sensitive to pH changes a coconut oil based suppository is not ideal. You also don’t want to take high dose THC suppositories before having to do anything requiring your full attention.
• High CBD Tincture
In addition to the capsules and suppositories, I use a whole-plant high-CBD low-THC tincture sublingually to try to tame any cramping or nausea I have during my cycle.
Changes in Diet/Lifestyle:
• Organic & Pesticide Free Diet
Hormones and antibiotics in your food supply can contribute to added hormones to the body that make it react negatively. Eating organic might be a few bucks more in the short-term, but your overall health in the long run will end up costing less eating clean and organic. In America, it’s hard to find truly organic foods, as most certified organic products still have an allowable level of pesticides and hormones. They actually allow higher levels of pesticides and heavy metals in our food than California allows in cannabis and edibles.
I never thought I might be gluten intolerant, until I went to Fran Drescher’s Health Summit in Los Angeles last year. Then I cut out gluten, and noticed any acid reflux or indigestion I had went away. When I tried to eat gluten again it returned.
• Dairy Free (Egg Free as well for me)
Similar to my gluten experience, I never realized I was dairy and egg intolerant until I cut them out and tried to eat them again. Dairy products, in general, have the most amount of hormones and antibiotics in them. Removing as many hormones, pesticides, preservatives and antibiotics has been just as key as cannabis has been for reducing my period pain. (I went Vegan for a year, and it seemed to improve my cramping, but not the nausea and eventually I became B12 and Iron deficient and had to go back to eating lean meats a few times a week. Everyone is different.)
• Low to No Sugar
We’ve always heard that sugar is poison, but it seems like it’s almost impossible to eat a completely sugar-free and chemical-free diet. Sugar is literally in everything. Drastically reducing my sugar intake to less than 15-20 grams of sugar a day made a huge difference on my Endometriosis symptoms.
• Iron, B12 Supplements & Flaxseed
As women we lose a lot of blood during our periods, replacing the iron loss with supplements was helpful for me. B12 is another supplement that helps with overall health and well-being. Flax seed is supposed to help with the reproductive system, and can easily be thrown into a smoothie.
• Tobacco Free
I’m in the cannabis industry so I used to smoke blunts. I made a commitment to myself to see if cutting out tobacco blunts made an improvement in my female cycle, and it absolutely did.
• Regular Sex
I’m married so finding it, isn’t hard. But I’ve learned that using the muscles required for sex regularly, greatly help at reducing the cramping in the vaginal walls or cervix. If you don’t have a regular penis nearby, get a vibrator.
• Regular Exercise
The more exercise I had in the month prior, the less painful and intense my cramps and nausea were. Sweating is also the body’s natural way of releasing toxins in the body. Those toxins contribute to discomfort and health issues.
Additional Alternative Treatments:
I used to go to acupuncture for allergies, back pain and carpal tunnel when I lived in San Francisco and my acupuncture clinic was right down the street. Somewhere along the way I forgot about the healing power of acupuncture, until my 14 year old Husky took a turn for the worse and it led me to dog acupuncture. Within a week she was walking, eating and playing normal again, and behaving younger than ever. Nine months later it’s as if she’s reversed in age by several years from the regular acupuncture and Chinese Herbs she received. So I went back to acupuncture, after my worst period yet, and within one cycle I noticed the difference. What seemed to work was going twice a week when possible, or once a week to start if you can’t afford twice a week. If cost is an issue, there are many easy to find deals on Groupon, or you can find an acupuncture school nearby and find out when they have the low-cost $10-20 donation walk-in clinics with student supervised treatments.
• Chinese Herbs
There a many ways to benefit from Chinese herbs. Cannabis itself is considered an ancient Chinese Sacred Herb. Herbs from the Chinese Doctor’s office can be expensive and marked up. The key herbs that help with reproductive cycles and periods are Black Cohosh, Echinesea, GoldenSeal, Primrose Oil which all come in easy to swallow capsule form. Adding organic powdered maca, cinnamon and tumeric to my daily coffee also seemed to improve inflammation and hormone stability for me. If you can’t afford the $40-$80 for a custom combination of Chinese Herbs at the Acupuncturist’s office, you can buy Xia Yao San in any ChinaTown herb pharmacy, or find it online. It comes in powdered form, and you add hot water to make it like tea. Fair warning, Chinese Herbs taste awful and I’m not sure you ever get over how gross the taste is, but I’ve found that if you use a little bit of honey it masks the bitterness of the herbs and is worth stomaching. Of all the options on this list, it is my personal opinion that the Herbs are the most effective alternative treatment on this list.
It’s important in this fast-paced world we live in to take the time to de-stress and relieve our nerve endings. I found that the more stress I had in the weeks prior to my cycle, the worse my cycle was. Do Yoga, swim, go to the spa or sauna, dance or find whatever is accessible to you.
• Sensory Deprivation Tank
This one is a reiteration of de-stressing and disconnecting from the modern technology world, kind of like meditating in the easiest environment to meditate in. The added benefit of a Sensory Deprivation Tank is the 1,300 pounds of epsom salts. The magnesium in the salt reduces cramping and inflammation.
• IV with Magnesium
In the last couple years there has been a new market of on-call nurses and clinics that offer IV treatments for hangovers, jet-lag or food poisoning dehydration. A few days before your cycle, or while you’re on it, you can go in and get an IV at one of these hangover doctor’s clinics available in many major cities. Most offer an option of cocktails, choosing the cocktail with magnesium helps reduce cramping and inflammation. These non-emergency IVs are a little bit on the expensive side and can range $100-$300 depending on what you get.
• Reiki / Energy Healing
Transcendental energy healing has been around for millennia. It might not be something for you and can be replaced with meditation. However, if you’re open minded about energy healing, Reiki, Qi Gong and Tai Chi are all options to improve your “chi.” Reiki and Qi Gong treatments can be expensive and each session adds up. Finding a Tai Chi group or meetup is not too difficult. There is also the Chinese version of Reiki called Longevitology (longevitology.org), which is totally free and requires no payment to learn and no payment to receive treatment, just the exchange of love with universal energy. Longevitology teaches one how to heal others and heal yourself with the laying on of hands and meditation. They also offer treatment centers around the world and believe that healing treatments should be free and not charged for;
Gratitude is enough.
Finding the right doses of cannabis products and the consistent availability of products has been the hard part. Now with legalization, access is slightly easier, but stores are busier with less time to help real patients, which is why I chose to write this piece. I’ve read so many articles, stories and experiences online about Endometriosis, none that ever end with a solution or a pathway to a treatment regimen that works.
If your pain level is a 20 out of 10, like my female cycles used to be, high doses of THC are what seem to work best for me. The high doses require acclimating to over time, and edibles over 100mg are hard to find in California now. Learning to make your own edibles is what we recommend in order to get the higher dose. You can find recipes and how-to videos online at