Have you heard of cannabis suppositories and wondered to yourself why you would use suppositories? You’re not alone — many people are unfamiliar with suppositories. But, there is good reason to use cannabis suppositories for gastrointestinal issues. Let’s talk about it.
What are Suppositories?
Suppositories are any medications inserted into the vagina or rectum. Typically, they’re used for a few different reasons:
- Deliver medication directly to the site of pain or discomfort (for example, menstrual cramps, abdominal pain, constipation, etc.).
- Medication is absorbed quickly.
- The person cannot swallow medication because of problems with nausea and vomiting or a compromised esophagus or digestive tract.
What we are discussing in this article are rectal suppositories for gastrointestinal issues.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that impacts about 11 percent of the global population. It’s an inflammatory disorder that affects the large intestine. It is characterized by stomach pain and trouble with bowel habits — going more or less often (diarrhea or constipation) and having a different type of stool.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
The cause of inflammatory bowel disease is chronic digestive tract inflammation, which leads to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. The two most common forms of IBD are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
While these two diseases share a number of the same characteristics, there are a few significant differences;
- Ulcerative colitis only occurs in the colon and only in the innermost lining. In contrast, Crohn’s disease can occur in any part of the gastrointestinal tract and can occur in all the layers of the walls of the bowels.
- Ulcerative colitis is characterized by continuous inflammation of the colon while, with Crohn’s disease, healthy parts of the intestine can still populate between the inflamed areas.
Does Cannabis Improve Symptoms Associated With Gastrointestinal Issues?
Researchers have begun exploring the role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the normal regulation of the gastrointestinal system.
They discovered cannabinoid receptors are present in the gastrointestinal system, including in the colon. The ECS is involved in numerous gastrointestinal functions — speed of digestion, motility in the bowel, and the emptying of the bowel. IBS and IBD can impact any or all of these normal functions.
Even more notable from the research was the overall improvement in patients’ quality of life after using cannabis to manage their symptoms. A 2012 study found an improvement in the quality of life of those with IBS in addition to positive markers of health — improved ability to work, be social, and decreased depression. Also, a 2011 study found that cannabis reduced the need for other medication and potentially even the need for surgery in patients with IBD. In this study, 45 percent of the participants achieved clinical remission, and 25 percent suspended corticosteroid therapy.
The research is still in the preliminary stages; however, a 2011 study found that CBD alone was just as effective in managing symptoms associated with IBS as THC.
Why Suppositories Over Other Consumption Methods?
As we already discussed, two benefits of cannabis suppositories are targeting the source of pain or inflammation and avoiding oral consumption because of nausea or vomiting. But are there other reasons to use cannabis suppositories over other consumption methods?
Research suggests that rectal administration is more effective than oral administration. One reason for this could be the bioavailability of suppositories. However, fully understanding the bioavailability and absorption of cannabis suppositories will require more research. We do know that it appears as though higher doses of THC are tolerated without intoxication, and the effect of the cannabinoids last longer than with other consumption methods.
Why don’t you experience intoxication at high doses of THC when taken as a suppository? This same study suggests this effect results from first-pass metabolism, meaning the majority of the cannabinoids are absorbed where they are first introduced to the body and therefore don’t reach other parts of the body (blood and brain) at the same concentration.
How to Use Cannabis Suppositories
The process of making cannabis suppositories involves combining cannabis, or CBD, oils with a carrier oil that hardens at low temperatures, such as cacao butter. The goal for a suppository is a hard, smooth exterior for easy insertion but with the ability to dissolve quickly at body temperature.
Wash your hands first, then lay in a comfortable position with your knees bent, and relax your body. Gently insert the suppository tapered end first. Stay lying down for a few minutes to allow the suppository to dissolve.
Note that you should refrain from having a bowel movement for an hour or so after inserting (so it may make sense to go first). It also may leak slightly, so choose your underwear wisely and consider taking your dose right before bed.
Don’t forget to store your suppositories in a cool, dark place so that they don’t melt.
Final Thoughts on Cannabis Suppositories for Gastrointestinal Issues
Cannabis suppositories are not the only way to manage symptoms associated with gastrointestinal issues, but they may help relieve pain and inflammation faster by targeting the source.