For many patients, ailments make inhalation or ingestion of medicinal cannabis impossible. Left without options, many have come up with their own way to benefit from the medical aspects of cannabis – by suppository.
Cannabis activist and patient Jenn Bennett said she had previously used cannabis orally, but after learning about the application technique from other patients in the community she found that her body’s response was like nothing she had experienced before.
“I had such a good sleep, the effects of it were in 15 minutes. I was at times pain-free, and for me being pain-free is very rare,” said Bennett who uses cannabis to mainly treat her spinal stenosis, a condition that causes the spinal canal to narrow.
“It’s the final stages of degenerative disk disease, my muscles are turning to bone,” said Bennett. “I have so much pain and lack of sleep that I found for me, it’s relief. I don’t have to smoke it as much, I don’t have to be chasing that relief anymore.”
While inhaled cannabis takes effect quickly, it wears off faster than other application techniques, requiring multiple doses. Ingested cannabis, while having a longer presence in the body, can take up to 90 minutes for patients to feel the effects.
Comparatively, suppositories can be felt as quick as 10 minutes after application, and last for several hours.
Using suppositories, medicine is absorbed through the intestinal wall directly into the bloodstream, avoiding the digestive system and liver that may break down the cannabis, giving patients more of the medicinal effects with the same amount of the substance.
Patient access to cannabis based suppositories is currently restricted. While the government has only just begun granting licensed producers to manufacture and sell edible cannabis, medical patients in need of alternative application methods are left without a legal way to access their medication.
Bennett bought medical moulds that she prepared herself by combining infused coconut oil, frankincense and beeswax.
“I think patients should be able to produce these kind of products themselves,” Bennett said. “Patients need to have the right to continue. There’s no reason the government should have full control over cannabis.”
Suppository application of cannabis can also be beneficial when the medical issues are related to that area of the body. Physicians targeting pelvic or rectal diseases and ailments, like cancer or IBS, have recommended suppositories as a method of potentially having cannabis used more effectively.
A 2007 study published in PubMed Central showed that, “the bioavailability of the rectal route was approximately twice that of the oral route due to higher absorption and lower first-pass metabolism.”
Bennett said, in her experience, suppository application of cannabis is especially beneficial to bowel issues.
“I had someone I gave a cup of infused coconut oil and he used it rectally and his prostate cancer is now in remission,” Bennett recounted.
As legalization efforts continue forward, Bennett hopes the recreational movement doesn’t overshadow the real benefit to many medical patients in the country.
“Everyone has the right to it, but we have to keep focus on the medical part of it — we can’t let the medical part of it disappear.”