Indica Or Sativa For Menstrual Cramps: Which Works Best? | CAC
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Indica Or Sativa For Menstrual Cramps: Which Works Best?

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Menstrual pain is a monthly occurrence for the vast majority of women. It can range from mild discomfort to debilitating cramps that severely reduce the quality of life for at least a couple of days per month.

While there are various pain management options available, with medical cannabis now a legal reality in the UK, women are starting to turn to this natural alternative for relief.

But when it comes to choosing between Indica or Sativa strains, which works best for menstrual cramps, and what are their differences?

Key Takeaways

  • Indica strains may help alleviate menstrual cramps through their relaxing and pain-relieving properties.
  • Sativa strains can provide uplifting effects and aid in combating fatigue associated with menstrual cramps, and also help dull the pain. 
  • Other non-cannabis options, such as OTC pain relievers, heat therapy, exercise, and relaxation techniques, can also be effective in managing menstrual cramps.
  • Finding the right strain and dosage may require some trial and error, so it is essential to consult with a medical professional before beginning any treatment.
  • The potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis for menstrual cramps are still in the early stages of research, but anecdotal evidence and initial studies show promise.

Indica vs Sativa: Understanding the Differences

Indica and Sativa cannabis strains are actually the same in terms of genetics, but they do have a few key differences. These differences are mainly based on their physical characteristics, effects offered, and chemical makeup.

  • Indica strains typically have slightly elevated levels of CBD, and are more often associated with relaxing, pain-relieving, and sedating effects.
  • Sativa strains, on the other hand, tend to have slightly higher levels of THC levels and are more often linked with uplifting, energising, and creative effects.

In the modern age of designer medical weed, these above points are somewhat blurred, as growers can tend to focus on the desired effects rather than whether the strain is Indica or Sativa. Hybrids now dominate the market with a balance of Indica and Sativa characteristics, offering pain relief while still allowing for day-long usage.

Benefits Of Cannabis For Menstrual Cramps

Medical marijuana offers its therapeutic benefits by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). We all have an ECS, and it’s the system that maintains balance within the body, regulating important functions such as pain perception, mood, sleep, and appetite.

The ECS consists of CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the body, including the myometrial – the muscular outer layer of the uterus.

This study from the International Journal of Molecular Sciences shines a light on the significant role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) within uterine tissue, particularly focusing on the myometrial tissue.

During menstruation, the ECS influences the myometrial tissue’s ability to contract. THC is shown to be an agonist, which means when the THC molecule binds to the CB1 receptor, it produces a physiological response. 

When THC binds to this cannabinoid receptor in myometrial, the tissue can produce a relaxation response.

This relaxation effect of the myometrial tissue provides pain relief for dysmenorrhea, also known as painful periods, consisting of cramps in the pelvis, stomach, lower back, and legs. 

While more research is still needed, most women in this study reported improvements in finding pain relief. 

Choosing Between Indica or Sativa for Menstrual Cramps

The first thing that every prospective patient should do before starting to medicate with medical marijuana is to reach out to a UK specialist who has experience in prescribing medical marijuana for their specific health needs.

The NHS does offer prescriptions for cannabis-based products, but typically only for rare, severe forms of epilepsy, nausea and vomiting relating to chemotherapy or multiple sclerosis. For all other patients, there are a bunch of private clinics to now choose from.

Your doctor will be able to guide you towards the most suitable strain (or product) for your specific needs, and this will often be based on trial and error. It is important to remember that every individual’s body chemistry is different, so what works for one person may not necessarily work for another.

When selecting between Indica and Sativa strains, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • The severity of your cramps
  • Your tolerance to THC
  • Your desired effect (e.g. pain relief, relaxation, or productivity)

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Indica Strains For Menstrual Cramps

Leafly, one of the industry-leading online publications, lists over four hundred Indica strains that may help relieve menstrual cramps.

While specific menstrual-related research from authoritative medical journals or clinical trials is currently lacking, many recreational and medical weed users took the time to report the effects certain strains have on cramps anecdotally.

Specific Indica Strains That May Be Effective For Menstrual Cramps

  • Northern Lights
  • Purple Kush
  • Afghan Kush
  • Granddaddy Purple
  • Northern Lights
  • Blueberry
  • Stiiizy OG
  • Wish Mountain
  • American Beauty

Research supporting the use of Indica strains for menstrual cramps remains in its very early stages, primarily due to legal restrictions. With the world finally waking up to the huge potential that this amazing plant offers therapeutically, we should start seeing more research and clinical trials soon.  

Despite this, anecdotal evidence and initial studies indicate potential pain relief benefits in all areas of the body, including potentially menstrual pain and cramping. 

Sativa Strains For Menstrual Cramps

Leafly also lists over one hundred Sativa strains that may help relieve menstrual cramps.

Specific Sativa Strains That May Be Effective For Menstrual Cramps

  • Harlequin
  • Candyland
  • Sour Diesel
  • Jack Herer
  • Green Crack
  • Purple Stardawg
  • Johnny’s Tonic
  • Island Maui Haze

Sativa strains are known for their uplifting and energising effects, and may also aid in combating the fatigue that can go hand-in-hand with menstrual cramps. 

Other Non-Cannabis Options For Menstrual Cramp Relief

There are several non-cannabis options to consider for finding relief from menstrual cramps.

  • OTC pain relievers – NSAIDs (Advil, Aleve, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc)
  • Heat – apply a warm healing pad to your lower abdomen
  • Light exercise and stretching
  • Diet changes
  • Supplements – research shows ginger had the most powerful relief effects, followed by vitamin D and E.
  • Relaxation techniques – yoga, massage, acupuncture, and meditation
  • Herbal remedies – chamomile, chasteberry, fennel, and cinnamon.

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can be effective, but they don’t work for all women suffering through period cramps. Heat therapy, such as a warm bath or a heating pad on your lower abdomen, can help relax your muscles and reduce pain. 

Regular physical exercise can decrease the intensity of cramps, and some find yoga or other stretching exercises particularly helpful. Others find relief through alternative therapies like acupuncture or massage, incorporating relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing exercises.

In general, combining all the above methods listed, with the assistance of UK medical cannabis, you are likely to find something that works for you in terms of relief from menstrual pain.


Is medical marijuana legal in the UK for menstrual cramp relief?

Yes, medical weed can be prescribed in the UK for pain issues.

Currently, only a select few cannabis-based products are available on prescription through the NHS. This is primarily for patients with rare, severe forms of epilepsy, nausea and vomiting relating to chemotherapy or multiple sclerosis.

People suffering with pain issues will have to reach out to a private cannabis clinic to obtain a legal prescription for medical marijuana.

Is Indica or Sativa better for menstrual cramps?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Every person’s body chemistry is unique, and the effectiveness of a particular strain will vary from one individual to another.

If you are looking for daytime relief but are worried about feeling “too high”, Sativa strains may be a better option. On the other hand, if you are looking for more sedative effects, an Indica strain may be more suitable. Finding the most effective strain for your needs will mean trying a few different options and seeing how your body reacts.

Can I use CBD oil for menstrual cramps?

Yes, CBD oil is legal in the UK and can be purchased without a prescription. However, it is important to note that CBD oil and medical cannabis are not the same thing.

CBD oil does not contain enough THC to produce psychoactive effects, but it may still have some therapeutic benefits for menstrual cramps. THC has proven pain killing properties, so while CBD may help to reduce inflammation and discomfort, it may not be as effective as a product that contains both CBD and THC.

We suggest consulting with a doctor or trying different forms of CBD to see what works best for you.

What is the recommended dosage for cannabis-based medical options for menstrual pain?

There is no one-size-fits-all recommended dosage for medical cannabis, as it varies based on your body chemistry, tolerance, and desired effects.

It is important to start with a low dosage and gradually increase until you find the right amount that provides relief.

Final Thoughts About Indica Vs Sativa For Menstrual Cramps

Choosing between Indica and Sativa for menstrual cramps largely comes down to your individual preference and which strain ends up responding best to your body chemistry. If you want an option for evening and nighttime menstrual pain issues, Indica dominant cannabis strains may be the way to go. Sativa dominant strains might be the better option if you want something more uplifting for daytime use.

Always consult with a medical professional who has experience with medical marijuana before beginning any treatment. Remember that finding the right strain and dosage may take some time and a little trial and error.