Today’s guest post is from Bonita of HerCBD. Bonita started a social enterprise that provides CBD oils (https://hercbd.co.uk/). The object is to support women with an organic alternative for anxiety, period cramps and pain relief for those suffering with endometriosis. HerCBD donates profits to various endometriosis charities and support groups around the world. She collaborated with a friend, who has endometriosis, who also initiated a support group for endo women in Zimbabwe; where it is extremely taboo to talk about periods. The economic situation there also makes it extremely difficult for women to get the right products, which is why she was adamant to donate some of her profits to that organization. She also works with endometriosis groups in the UK, discussing ways to educate and raise awareness, and as it is also underfunded, also contributes some of her profits to those groups. This guest blog is about CBD in the UK, how it helps with endometriosis, and period pain as well as anxiety. It also highlights how causes like endometriosis are underfunded and the importance of contributing to the causes.
‘I love my period!’, said no one ever.
Menstruation is not necessarily an exciting time of the month. We all experience periods differently and if you are like me, then you might get severe mood swings, stomach cramps that feel like a volcanic eruption, and sometimes back pain.
But every month, despite a little bit of whining I put up a front, and I get on with what I must do- after all, the pain is endurable, and as I have been told repeatedly it’s part of our natural biology and hey I am stuck with it, so I might as well embrace it! Be a polite girl and keep it to yourself.
Over 50% of women in the world have experienced severe period pain at work and like me, they did not tell anyone and got on with it. For most, it is just a normal part of the cycle but, the more I have started up a dialogue about menstruation, I have learned that it could also be an indication that there is something else that could be wrong.
Do you have irregular periods, chronic crippling pains, worryingly heavy bleeding? These are things that you could be hiding and telling yourself that they are OK, until you realize they are not. They could be an indication that you have something out of the ordinary- you could be the one in ten who have Endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a bit of a mouthful to say it, but it is something that should not be polite about and keep quiet.
What is endometriosis?
To understand endometriosis, you need to know a bit about the menstrual cycle… I know most of you reading the Vagina blog will know this, so I will keep it brief.
Every month your body prepares itself to fertilize eggs for a pregnancy, this preparation occurs in the womb and there are cells that grow naturally to help flush blood and nutrients to the egg. If the egg is not fertilized by sperm then the body disposes of the cells and it comes out of your body in the form of blood, this blood is known as a period.
There are cases when the cells grow in other areas outside of the womb or in the fallopian tube; when this occurs, it is a symptom of endometriosis (Endo). Endo is a chronic condition that is experienced by 1 in 10 women globally. The symptoms of endometriosis consists of severe pain across the body, heavy bleeding during (and even outside of) menstruation. Endo is a life-time illness which can lead many to suffering from depression, anxiety and feeling suicidal. Endo can leave many women infertile which can have a huge psychological impact. (Source: https://osvilt.com/gynecology/what-is-endometriosis-symptoms-of-endometriosis.html)
The worsening of your mental health, particularly the increase of anxiety, may also heighten the physical symptoms.
There is not yet a cure for endometriosis but quite often surgery is used to remove the excess growth of cells and prescribed medication are used to manage your hormones, however, the pain is so severe that it is difficult to alleviate naturally. This means you will be consuming pharmaceutical medication every day for the rest of your life… which can be expensive and certainly not beneficial to your long-term health.
This is where CBD can really make a huge difference- it offers an alternative to pharmaceuticals and provides a natural and holistic solution.
What is CBD and the Endocannabinoid System?
You have probably already heard of CBD. It is currently taking over the world as the next natural essential to general health and well-being. If you haven’t heard of CBD you will certainly have heard about cannabis, or weed? Yes, CBD is derived from the Hemp plant which is part of the Cannabis family! Don’t worry though… if you adverse to the idea of the ‘erb then keep reading and we will explain how this works.
CBD is one of 113 Cannabinoids which are found in Cannabis, the main two being CBD, and THC. THC is the phyco-active compound which is associated with being high and is therefore illegal in many states, the UK and around the globe. CBD is non-psychcoactive and there is no evidence of the ability to overdose or become addicted to it; it is an anxiolytic and can calm you down without spacing you out. Believe it or not, Cannabinoids can be found in Olives, Flax Seeds, Black Pepper and our own bodies produce its own version of Cannabinoids. This is all down to the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
The ECS is a network of receptors in our bodies (consisting of CB1 & CB2 receptors) which help our bodies regulate normal and healthy body functions; this system ensures that everything in our bodies is working perfectly and is in perfect balance… also referred to as homeostasis. The ECS regulates from everything to temperature regulation, blood sugar, cell production, chemical production (including hormone production), inflammation reduction, sleep regulation and reproductive health. It is basically a super amazing part of your immune system.
Cannabinoids such as CBD power the ECS to enable it to regulate your body so that it can work to return to normal. Hence why it is known as the ‘miracle cure’ and has been associated with fixing everything!!
How does it help with menstruation, endometriosis and anxiety?
When your body goes through any kind of stress (such as injury, invaded by bacteria or when you are in pain) the body works to return the internal environment back to its happy middle.
During the period, our bodies do all sorts of weird things; an increase in hormone levels lead to contractions of the muscles, which in turn causes inflammation in the uterus and it is the reason why we experience back breaking cramps, and lots of pain! This flush of hormones throughout our bodies can affect our moods, increase our irritability and anxiety levels. Not fun for anyone 🙁 Especially if you are an endo sufferer, then these symptoms are tenfold.
To our ECS, this is out of the norm, so it will activate to try and bring these symptoms of pain, inflammation back down and try to regulate hormone production. CBD itself is an anxiolytic and is used by the ECS to regulate serotonin levels in our brains and helps to fight off the pangs of dread caused by anxiety or stress, can help you deal with pain and help you sleep like a log.
By giving fuel to your ECS, you help your own body regulate and protect itself… in almost the same way that eating healthily, exercising regularly and drinking lots of water can do the same. CBD is not particularly special… but it is certainly uniquely powerful!
I am writing this as the founder and owner of HerCBD. We are a social enterprise based in the UK with a mission to raise awareness about, and fund support for underfunded female issues, specifically menstruation.
Periods are sadly still a taboo topic and when a women cannot speak freely about what is happening in their bodies, it becomes very difficult to provide the right support. This is especially true in many impoverished countries (particularly in Africa) where the rights for women are not the same as they are in the US, or the UK.
Here is where we come in: we want to share information about CBD and women’s issues and provide a range of CBD products to fund women’s’ health and well-being which directly fund underfunded causes.
We work with organisations in the UK to create awareness about menstruation, anxiety, but our key project is endometriosis. It is extremely underfunded and under researched which means that millions of women (1 in 10 of us) are not receiving the right care; we want to empower women who cannot afford the extra period products they may need, the medication and support networks which are so desperately required. On average it takes 7 years for women to be diagnosed with endo, and that is saddening.
100% of HerCBD profits goes towards charities and organisations that provide support for women experiencing endometriosis: help us end the stigma, provide medical care, menstrual products, a support network for endo sufferers globally by sharing this post and being proud about sharing your menstrual secrets!