Cannabis-based vagina suppositories are the latest invention to hit the US market in a bid to help women suffering from period pain. Foria relief capsule suppositories, similar in shape to tampons, are filled with cannabis and supposedly bring relief to women without giving them a high.
"FORIA Relief has been carefully crafted using a delivery system intended to maximise the muscle relaxing and pain relieving properties of cannabis without inducing a psychotropic 'high'. Cannabis has a long, cross cultural history of use as a natural aide in easing symptoms associated with menstruation," a statement on the company's website read.
"Our intention is to share the powerful medicinal properties of this plant while utilising modern extraction techniques to standardise purity and potency, thereby ensuring a safe and accessible experience for all women."
Foria is a California-based brand and is often dubbed "weed lube" after it unveiled its first product in 2014, a THC-enhanced lubricant for women. Foria's latest offering is intended to help relieve pelvic inflammation and pain by relaxing muscles around the uterus, cervix and the ovaries.
The cannabis suppositories are sold in a pack of four and are priced at £30 ($44). Each suppository contains 60mg of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and 10mg of CBD (cannabidiol) along with organic cocoa butter. THC is the main component of cannabis that gives users the relaxed high effect of the drug while CBD is one of at least 85 active cannabinoids found in marijuana.
"Foria Relief contains both THC and CBD, the two key active cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis. Together they activate certain cannabinoid receptors in the pelvic region when introduced into the body via these specially formulated suppositories...The cannabinoids directly impact the immune system and the nerve endings of the uterus, cervix, ovaries and surrounding smooth muscle tissues," the statement added.
Several medical practitioners have advised against the use of Foria since the product has not yet been evaluated and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Gynaecologist Jen Gunter wrote a blog post warning against the use of the untested product. She points out there is absolutely no research to support the company's claims: "There is no study on THC and/or CBD for menstrual cramps or pelvic pain or endometriosis. If fact the few studies on the reproductive tract are on rat uteri. If that doesn't reassure you I don't know what will.
"The company says it's product won't get you high because 'the medicine is administered as a vaginal suppository'. This makes no sense. Medications are absorbed from the vagina into the bloodstream and then from the bloodstream they go to the uterus and the brain and everywhere else that blood goes. This requires only a rudimentary knowledge of physiology. Medication doesn't crawl up the vagina to the uterus and then just hang out avoiding circulation.
"Fiora also claims the uterus has 'more cannabinoid receptors than any part of the body except the brain'. I can find no study to support this assertion. Also, just because we have a receptor doesn't mean that stimulating it produces a medicinal and safe effect. Opioids stimulate the all kinds of receptors and of course there is good and bad in that. Keep in mind that the role of endocannabinoid signalling in the human reproductive system is still largely not understood."
Gunter also added that the dose stated by Fiora is significantly higher than doses recommended through oral admission. "Technically there is more than enough THC in Foria Relief vaginal suppositories to get you very high and even send you to the emergency department, although as vaginal absorption of THC is totally unstudied who really knows? Also, you are taking their word that this is the actual dose. The product might also contain not much of anything.
"Why they decided to go with such a high dose is unknown as much lower doses can produce analgesia (pain relief), unless of course it's not about the cramps after all. If Foria Relief really does contain 60 mg of THC and absorption is between 15 and 60 minutes it's hard to believe the goal isn't to leave you paralyzed on the bed thinking menstrual cramps aren't so bad after all."