As the CBD industry continues to explode outwards into the universe (somewhat hyperbolic, but not entirely) it is disrupting market segments that not long ago might have seemed untouchable – by cannabis at least.
But here we are.
Period health has, just generally in recent years, been shedding its shroud of silence. And with women beginning to own, name, and speak out about what it means to menstruate, this has (surprise, surprise) opened new doors for marketing.
The CBD industry has not been slow to catch on.
Not only are traditional CBD products like tinctures and capsules being marketed as cure-alls for period pain and emotional see-sawing, but there is now a whole range of novel products that aim to deliver CBD to the parts that ail us on a monthly basis.
This includes CBD-infused vaginal suppositories, transdermal patches, roll-on headache elixirs, tea, and chocolate. Also, CBD tampons.
CBD tampons are a relatively new twist in the CBD-for-menstruation plot, and they have yet to really hit the US market. In the UK, where they are available, the jury is still out. A very unscientific scan of online reviews shows a mix of absolute die-hard converts and people who think it might have helped but aren’t really sure. So, pretty similar to a lot of other CBD products out there.
But unlike suppositories and tinctures, if this idea takes off, it could potentially be a disruptor in a massive market that has yet to be touched by CBD. Revenue in the American feminine hygiene segment is projected to reach US $3,547 million in 2021.
With little scientific research to build on, the evidence for CBD's benefits for period symptoms is largely anecdotal - and pretty mixed.
Just reflect on those numbers for a moment.
Clearly, menstruating women wield considerable spending power. And why should this be a surprise? Most of us will go to whatever length is necessary (and affordable) for relief from the mess and inconvenience of menstruating – not to mention the pain of period cramps.
So if CBD-infused tampons can take care of both, great. Problem is, you guessed it, due to a lack of research, we don’t know yet if they do. And it should be telling that one of the first articles to pop up under a search for “CBD for period pain” is one lambasting CBD brands for making outsized claims.
One small review, published in the Online Journal Of Complementary and Alternative Medicine surveys the scientific literature on many common symptoms associated with menstruation: headaches, emotional and psychological symptoms, and menstrual pain.
The authors point to evidence that “CBD compounds have been studied and proven to treat and relieve symptoms such as chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety and depression, and insomnia, to name a few.”
So while research on CBD for menstruation symptoms specifically is scant, they conclude that “since many of these symptoms often present themselves to women who suffer from PMS, CBD may be an appropriate, natural alternative treatment when it comes to managing these occurrences.”
Until more research is published, this endorsement may be as good as it gets from the scientific community.
Recently, the FDA has been weighing in on how cannabinoids like CBD affect women – as well as the way they are marketed to women. A recent panel discussion held at the behest of the agency explored biological (sex) and psychosocial (gender) differences in the use and effects of CBD and other cannabinoids:
“Conditions for which CBD is often marketed, such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances, are more prevalent in women than men. Therefore, consideration of issues pertaining to the safety of CBD products may be particularly important to address in women.”
This is an important conversation to have, and women need to keep their ears to the ground for future research in this area. (A rage-inducing fun fact: There have been five times as many studies into erectile dysfunction as there have been into PMS. That’s despite the fact that approximately 19 percent of men experience erectile dysfunction over the course of their lifetime, while over 90 percent of women report some symptoms of PMS.)
In the meantime, look out for overblown claims and implausibly low-dose products, while exploring the potential relief that cannabinoids may offer those of us who menstruate.