I was also excited to try another skin balm called “Love Your Ladyparts” — how could I resist that amazing feminist marketing? This product is designed and marketed for use on skin, the vulva, and inside the vagina.
The Whoopi & Maya tincture is significantly less expensive than the CBD one, most likely because CBD is a lot harder to extract than just making a tincture with marijuana as-is, which is mostly THC. A 1oz bottle costs $27-30 and a 2oz one for $45-50.
Before we get into my review, it’s important to note that most of these products are designed to help alleviate your cramps, not to get you high. (Although, as you’ll see, some of them did make me feel a bit loonytunes.)
7. "Love Your Ladyparts" Skin Balm
It’s common knowledge that heat is a good way to get cramping muscles to relax. Hot baths or showers can also help by increasing blood flow to your uterus area and causing the muscles there to relax. The geniuses over at Whoopi & Maya (yep, as in Whoopi Goldberg) created a cannabis Epsom bath salt to merge the pain relief powers of cannabis with that of natural heat.
Lots of companies are making topical body balm to combat cramps, which intrigued me, because I always think of menstrual pain as so internal that anything topical wouldn’t reach it. I was interested in checking out Whoopi & Maya’s body balm, since the rest of their products are so potent.
I drew a warm bath and dumped just a little under half of the jar in. The instructions said to use the full tub in one go, but I thought, This stuff is precious! And I have to say, I was lucky I scrimped, because it is potent. I soaked for around 30 minutes, during which time I got increasingly relaxed and bendy. After a few minutes, my cramps were gone! This relaxed no-cramp feeling lasted for around five hours.
OK, now that that’s cleared up, let’s move onto what I thought of the seven products I tested.
According to the experts at MedMen, there are more than 100 different chemical compounds in cannabis called cannabinoids—the all-stars being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). “THC is the psychoactive element that produces feelings of euphoria or the ‘high,'” one of the official spokespeople explains to me, while CBD is associated with some of the more medicinal and reparative effects, such as decreased inflammation, pain management, anxiety reduction, and improved sleep. In fact, Kiana Reeves, a woman’s health advocate, doula, somatic sex educator, and Chief Brand Educator at Foria, laments, “THC also has incredible pain relieving benefits and studies show all of these compounds work best together, otherwise known as the entourage effect. For certain medical conditions, having THC in the formula is essential (for others not as much), but trace amounts are still beneficial. Currently the legal limit for THC in CBD products is less than .3 %.
Thanks to pharmacological-grade Epsom salt, apricot kernel oil, avocado seed oil, jojoba oil, vitamin E, aloe vera, essential oils, and oh yeah, sun-grown cannabis, this isn’t your average bath soak. We highly recommend it come that time of the month when you’re feeling especially crampy and achy, as its medical cannabis promotes relaxation and yes, epic pain relief. (Plus, it has a luscious, warm, and woodsy scent.)
CBD + THC Decoded
Decadent dark chocolate (lots of it) and our period go together like peanut butter and jelly—it’s a winning, no-brainer combination. Then, go ahead and add 90mg of THC and you’ve reached another level of bliss entirely. Enter Défoncé (translated to “stoned” in French), a bougie and irresistibly cannabis-infused chocolatier lessening period qualms for women everywhere (or at least for those who get major cravings.) MedMen recommends its “Dark+” iteration, which boasts 90mg of THC and 81% pure cacao. Just try to limit your consumption—with 18 pieces per bar, you’ll get roughly 5mg of THC per bite. (A true test of self-control, we know.)
A mixture of California wildflower honey and cannabis-infused cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, these ingredients offer plenty of benefits where pain relief is concerned. Plus, thanks to the Indica strain of cannabis this sweet honey bear features, MedMen tells us it will have an ever-so-slight sedative effect.
Boasting a sweet and soothing cooling sensation, this extra-strength body spray offers fast-as-lightning pain relief perfect for those who suffer from PMS-induced cramps. It’s handily optimal for all skin types, conveniently sized, and expertly balances a small percentage of cannabis with other natural botanical pain relievers like arnica, juniper, peppermint, and clove. Simply spray one to two pumps of mist on your targeted area and wait a few seconds for it to dry.
Winged founder Jessica Mulligan says she launched the line after noticing that there were few CBD brands “tailored specifically to women’s needs.” And indeed, the ingredients are legit—although it should be noted that not all herbs are super well-supported by robust research. “Evening primrose may help reduce the symptoms of PMS and cyclic breast tenderness, as can chaste tree,” says Dr. Gersh.
Ned takes this concept a step further with its new Natural Cycle Collection ($178). “O ne of the most common questions we received after launching our original full spectrum hemp collection was whether or not CBD can help with period symptoms,” says Brittany Weeden, curator of the Natural Cycle Collection. “It was a no-brainer that we had to develop products that are not only safe to take over the long term, but could also help support the endocrine system and uterus.”
How it (theoretically) works
Some of the benefits promised by these products should be taken with a grain of salt, especially since they often rely on ingredients who haven’t been particularly well-studied. (Including, yes, CBD.) But in general, Dr. Gersh thinks that CBD is safe for most people. However, she recommends those who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should steer clear of CBD and other medicinal herbs. It’s also a good idea to vet supplement products with your health practitioner first to ensure that their ingredients won’t interfere with any conditions you have or medications you’re taking.
CBD is also believed to support the endocannabinoid system—an internal network of receptors and chemical messengers that helps the body maintain homeostasis in the face of environmental stressors. While there’s a lot that we’re still learning about the endocannabinoid system, research suggests that if a person’s hormones are imbalanced, it can negatively impact their natural levels of endocannabinoid molecules. This is where CBD can come into play. “ Cannabinoids like CBD support our endocannabinoid system by decreasing the breakdown of our own endocannabinoids,” says Soyona Rafatjah, MD, medical director of PrimeHealth. “This, in turn, leads to the positive benefits that we see from stimulating our cannabinoid receptors, from pain relief to reduced inflammation to improved mood—all of which can [potentially] improve our menstrual cycle experience.” Hence the appeal for people looking for more natural solutions to their period woes.
Of course, CBD hasn’t been rigorously studied in humans for most use cases. (The same goes for many of the herbs included in the aforementioned products.) Most of the evidence for CBD’s benefits for sexual health is largely anecdotal, or based on very small studies. But brands are banking on CBD’s enduring buzziness (and a slowly growing body of research supporting it) to create products tailored specifically for menstrual and reproductive health.