(This is our most commented on blog post, bar none. Given changing attitudes on this subject, including President Barack Obama's and ours, we have revisited the subject of marijuana for PMDD and PMS here.)
I saw a story just the other day on a somewhat mainstream website that claimed that cannabis—marijuana, pot, 420, or any of hundreds of other slang names—is bringing relief to women suffering from PMS and PMDD symptoms. My reaction to this headline can be summed up in one word: seriously? Or maybe in four words: are you kidding me?
Ensconced here in Northern California, I’m well aware of the medical marijuana movement, and I realize it can ease suffering for people with serious conditions like chemotherapy side effects. I have also seen that it is a system rife with abuse, and that marijuana is being prescribed before adequate medical workup of pain conditions, for anxiety and depression, and for other conditions for which it has never been adequately studied.
Cannabis can easily cause depression and anxiety, and we think it is terrible choice for PMS and PMDD. If you are a user, you should know that marijuana is not a remedy for these conditions, and there is a good chance it could make them worse.
It might help to stop for a moment to and consider: What are the symptoms of PMS and PMDD, and what symptoms does marijuana use cause? We have a complete list of PMS symptoms as well as one for PMDD symptoms you can peruse yourself. Lo and behold, marijuana causes many of the same symptoms women suffer through with PMS and PMDD. Layering pot on top of PMS is a lousy idea.
Here are some of the significant overlapping symptoms:
Depression: PMS, PMDD, and cannabis all cause depression. Long-term cannabis users often suffer from depression, as is the case with many chronic drug users. It’s hard to know if pot use is making people depressed, or if depressed people are getting stoned to avoid dealing with the issues that are troubling them. In either case, something that causes depression isn’t going to help improve PMS and PMDD depression.
Anxiety: Paranoia from cannabis is almost a cultural punchline at this point. Marijuana causes anxiety, which is one of the most common and miserable symptoms of PMS. For many women with PMDD, it is a debilitating problem. We don’t recommend exacerbating it with pot.
Fatigue: Cannabis is a depressant—it slows people down. Pot is not going to make it easier to get through those days or weeks each month that are a struggle against lethargy already.
Food cravings and increased appetite: This is yet another cultural punchline when it comes to marijuana. It’s hard enough to stick to a healthy food plan any time of the month, let alone premenstrually. The idea that marijuana “munchies”, layered on top of PMS food cravings, is going to be beneficial is laughable and plainly not helpful.
Confusion and forgetfulness: If you don’t have this symptom, you may not realize that it is a common PMS symptom. Of course, it’s a symptom of cannabis ingestion in almost everyone who habitually inhales or consumes the stuff.
Decreased efficiency? Out of control feeling? Avoidance of social interactions? Loss of interest in hobbies and usual activities? We understand if you’re not sure if this is a list of cannabis effects or PMS symptoms, because it’s both.
Cannabis is no solution to PMS: really, it’s just a recipe for more problems. We are big believers in plant medicine, which is why we’ve created natural relief programs for PMS in which herbal remedies are integral. And none of them slow you down the way marijuana can. In fact, they are designed to allow you to live better and more efficiently.