This story is written by our in-house science and medical expert, Dr. Jacqueline Jacques, ND, FTOS, Naturopathic Doctor.
I have seen a lot of crazy things in my life as a doctor, but this takes the cake. I was at a medical conference in Texas when a woman offered me a sample of a soon-to-be-launched tampon infused with cannabidiol. Also known as CBD, cannabidiol is a compound found in cannabis (both hemp and marijuana) that is also an approved drug for serious childhood seizures. Since the passage of the most recent Farm Bill a few years ago, CBD is literally showing up in everything from skin care to pillowcases (yep – those also exist).
Perplexed by her product offering, I asked her straight up why I, or anyone for that matter, would want to put CBD in my vagina. The answer: menstrual cramps and pain. When asked about any research to back this up, the answer was unsurprisingly… no.
To be fair to cannabis, the plant itself has a long history of being recommended for menstrual pain. While not much research has been done, there was apparently a study conducted in the late 1800s on the subject, and as well as one from 1975. So it's not an entirely new concept. In 2020, the brand Daye published a white paper on a clinical trial they were doing claiming that "CBD tampons work by having a small percentage of the cannabinoid compound be absorbed through the vaginal mucosa, where they become active through the first uterine pass effect, and later get recycled through the pelvic organs." The study must have been successful because you can now actually buy the tampons online, but the results from the clinical study still haven't been published... So, that's gonna be a no from me.
More recently, there have been some animal studies looking specifically at pain from endometriosis (which is generally much more painful than run-of-the-mill cramps). But...and this is a big but…this data is largely related to THC-dominant forms of cannabis or to isolated THC. THC (D9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound in cannabis that gets you high. It’s also excellent at decreasing pain, relieving spasms, and reducing inflammation. And mostly these effects are from smoking or vaping, not from local applications.
CBD, while very popular due to its high availability and inability to get you high, is not the cure-all many want it to be. It does have some very interesting actions in the body, so might it help cramps? Maybe. We just don’t have any data right now to say yes or no. Should you be spending your money to use CBD tampons? If you have the extra money to spend and want to use cannabis for menstrual pain, probably more effective to just go for something with some THC in it until we know more.