Cannabis could be a good way to cure cramps but the science just isn’t there yet.
When it comes to sticking drugs up your vagina, I recommend erring on the side of caution. There's been a lot of talk lately about inserting weed in your vagina to alleviate menstrual cramps. Foria, a California company that previously made headlines for its cannabis-laced, "libido boosting" lube,recently drew attention again for its latest product: a cramp-fighting vaginal suppository. But despite the winning reviews, I wondered how effective, reliable, and most importantly, safe, this new product might be.
I reached out to Foria but didn't get a response immediately. Luckily, the company's site covers a lot of the questions I had. According to Foria's site, each suppository contains 60 mg of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the active component of cannabis that gets you high) and 10 mg of CBD (cannabidiol, one of the components of cannabis that works as a painkiller). These ingredients are compacted with cocoa butter into a suppository that is designed to be inserted in the vagina and absorbed mucosally.
The website claims the suppositories work to "maximize the muscle relaxing and pain relieving properties of cannabis without inducing a psychotropic 'high,'" but also notes that "the efficacy of this product has not yet been confirmed by clinical or FDA-approved research and this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."
On paper, the idea of treating painful cramping with pot seems relatively legit. We still, sadly, have scant scientific research on the benefits of medical marijuana, because it's considered illegal at the federal level. But what evidence we do have shows it can be a safe and effective treatment for pain. In California, getting a prescription for cannabis to treat menstrual cramps is not unheard of, and there's even a historical precedent: women have been using ganja to deal with their periods for centuries, even Queen Victoria was reportedly prescribed weed to deal with her monthly visitor.
But Foria's offering takes things to new territory: is there a difference between taking a few tokes or popping an edible to manage the pain of menstrual cramps and sticking 70 mg of cannabinoids up your vagina?
"It's completely untested," said Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a San Francisco-based an obstetrician, gynecologist and pain specialist who recently wrote about Foria's new product on her blog. "There's nothing in scientific literature to support this dose or the safety of it."
One of Gunter's biggest concerns is the fact that there's no research on how cannabinoids are absorbed through the vagina, as opposed to smoking them. We do know that medicine inserted into the vagina is efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream—Gunter pointed to hormonal birth control rings as an example—but even that is dependent on what other compounds you're adding to the medicine.
"When you compound medication for the vagina, which I do quite commonly, certain compounds can only be put in certain products," Gunter said. "I have no idea if cannabinoids are even compatible with cocoa butter. Normally you would do a study to test that, but there's been zero testing with this."
Gunter also pointed out that 70 mg of cannabinoids is a relatively high dose. For edibles, 10 mg of THC is considered a standard dose for pain management, and even among other mucosally-absorbed treatments, 70 mg in one dose is on the upper end of the spectrum. Sativex, a cannabinoid medicine used to treat muscle pain from multiple sclerosis and cancer in the UK and Canada, is absorbed into the body mucosally by spraying it under the tongue. But at just 2.7 mg of THC and 2.5 mg of CBD per spray, and a maximum recommended dose of 12 sprays per day, Gunter points out [with link] you're only ingesting 32.4 mg of cannabinoids.
This isn't to say Foria's product is definitely dangerous, it just shows how little we know about what sticking some THC-laced cocoa butter in your pussy might do. Given all the variables, Gunter said she simply wouldn't be able to give any medical advice a patient who asked about using cannabis suppositories to treat menstrual cramps.
Still, the testimonials about the glory of Foria's pussy pot are pretty appealing, and if you're dealing with severe cramps it might be tempting to give it a go. But if you're the kind of person who prefers remedies that have been lab-tested and FDA-approved, Gunter recommends talking to your doctor. There are prescription-strength painkillers that can help mitigate and even prevent cramping. It may not feel as badass as letting some cocoa butter weed melt in your vagina, but at least they've got some science to back them up.