Updated on December 28, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
There are many benefits of medical marijuana, but a lot of challenges as well when it comes to providing patients with the proper dosages and medication methods. Suppositories are growing in acceptance as a safe, effective way to deliver the relief patients need. Here’s some information on how both rectal and vaginal marijuana suppositories work, as well as some of the advantages of the approach.
Marijuana suppositories are made by dissolving weed extract in either butter or oil. It can have a much faster effect on the system than edibles or even smoking, and very few patients have reported negative experiences. It quickly enters the bloodstream, where it is distributed throughout the body. THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, moves to the brain through the liver, helping to reduce discomfort. The THC found in most cannabis suppositories does not get you high.
Suppositories come in capsule form and are inserted directly into the rectum or vagina. They are about an inch in length, and it usually takes only about 10-15 minutes before the patient starts to feel the effects. Unlike other forms of taking in pot, those effects can last as long as eight hours in some cases. Inhaling pot works almost immediately, but the effects wear off quickly as well unless you smoke more weed. Taking extracts orally in pill form could take as long as an hour and a half to start working.
Once the medicine is administered through the suppository, you will probably first notice a warm feeling starting in your pelvic area that will spread throughout your body. Any pain you have been experiencing will very likely start to subside quickly.
Most of the time, a marijuana suppository will come in wax paper and must be stored in a refrigerator. If they remain at room temperature, they can quickly soften and lose their effectiveness. If you are preparing to use a suppository and it’s not firm, put it back in the refrigerator or freezer until it reaches the proper consistency. You may also be able to simply run it under some cold water.
Make sure your hands are very clean before inserting the suppository, and that your nails are closely trimmed to reduce the chances of an injury occurring. Medical gloves are highly recommended.
To apply the suppository, lie down on your side and pull the upper portion of your leg toward the chest. Position the capsule in the rectum, and then push it in about an inch or two. You’ll more than likely need to clench your buttocks together and tighten your sphincter for a few seconds to ensure the suppository doesn’t pop out. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes, or until you are certain the capsule will stay in place. Wash your hands or dispose of the gloves immediately.
It’s very important to note, however, that for several hours there will still be a chance the capsule can slip out. Try to take it easy for the rest of the day, if possible.
Medical marijuana suppositories are good for people who are either experiencing severe nausea — such as chemotherapy patients — and have a hard time ingesting pills or edibles, or children who can’t smoke pot. There are many patients coming off a surgery that can’t immediately ingest anything, and others experiencing excruciating pain who don’t want to wait for an edible or a smoked joint or bong hit to take effect. In some cases, people can’t use edibles because their stomachs are too sensitive.
While research into the effectiveness of marijuana suppositories is still fairly limited, early results indicate suppositories are a much more efficient method of introducing medicine into the body than smoking or edibles. Efficient, in this instance, means the percentage of the medicine that is absorbed by the body. Inhalation of pot smoke is anywhere from 10-25 percent efficient, while edibles are only about 20 percent efficient on average. Suppositories, on the other hand, have an efficiency of as much as 70 percent. Plus, the effects are much more predictable.
A new product has recently entered the market from Foria, a company that makes lubricants and other items infused with cannabis. Known as the weed tampon, it’s actually a suppository and not the type of product you would normally associate with feminine hygiene.
The specific name of the suppository is Foria Relief and, according to marketing materials, is designed to relieve pain by relaxing muscles without providing a high. The vaginal product is made with non-psychotropic THC oil as well as cannabidiol (CBD) oil and cocoa butter. The THC blocks pain from nerve signals, while the CBD helps reduce muscle spasms. According to the company, the ingredients are designed to activate cannabinoid receptors located in the body’s pelvic region.
While Foria Relief is marketed as extremely safe and easy to use, it has not undergone U.S. Food and Drug Administration trials to confirm those claims. They were only available in California as of March 2017, and patients did not need a medical marijuana card in order to obtain them. However, they do need to have a physician’s recommendation.
Again, there have been no reports of negative effects from the vast majority of patients who have used medical marijuana suppositories. They are a healthier alternative to smoking, and act faster than edibles. If you can get over the awkwardness of using them, you’ll find they provide the relief you need without getting stoned.
As with any type of medicine, however, you need to have a conversation with your doctor to make sure medical marijuana suppositories are right for you. You will also have to be very disciplined in your approach to the medicine, and take the necessary precautions to be as safe as possible. If you are willing to try it, you will very likely find it provides relief in a much more effective fashion than other ways of taking in cannabis.