Last week, Foria released Relief, a capsule infused with 60 mg THC and 10 mg CBD, that the company said has been crafted to help millions of women who suffer from mild to severe menstrual issues, estimated by a 2012 study at being more than 84 per cent of all women.
The British Columbia Ministry of Health states that some women may experience headaches, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, or fainting during menstruation.
The National Institute of Child Health and Development estimates that up to 10 per cent of all women of reproductive age suffer from endometriosis, a disease that causes uterine tissue to grow outside the uterus, the pain from which can be “severe” or “debilitating,” growing worse over time to the point where it begins “interfering with day-to-day activities.”
Both Pleasure and Relief are also claimed to induce no psychotropic effects, or high, that users would get if they took cannabis orally.
While the product has not been confirmed to work by clinical research, co-developer Dr. Jennifer Berman said the suppositories help ease menstrual pain quicker than oral applications of cannabis.
“When a medicine is delivered through the mucosa of the vagina, rather than orally or [as] a topical treatment, it is directly absorbed into the bloodstream,” Berman said. “Cannabis-based products help relax the muscles, and the uterus is a muscle.”
Users have left feedback on the suppositories online, talking about how the product has helped them cope with their conditions.
“I have endometriosis that returned after having a partial hysterectomy,” wrote Desiree Maligro, on Instagram. “When I have flare ups, besides excruciating pain, I look pregnant and the inflammation affects my bladder. Foria is one of the very few things that brings me relief.”
In her blog, OB/GYN Dr. Jen Gunter said it might be premature to accept all of the claims that Fiora has put forward.
“It is always hard to substantiate any claim about marijuana products due to the limited research,” wrote Gunter. “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.”
Gunter also questioned the company’s claims that Relief users wouldn’t get high from the use of the suppositories, as all medications are absorbed into the blood and eventually travel to the brain, THC included.
“Why they decided to go with such a high dose is unknown as much lower doses can produce analgesia (pain relief),” Gunter wrote. “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.”
While the American Food and Drug Administration is restricted by federal law to approve medical cannabis products, Berman said Relief will also be held to a higher standard in testing because of its use in the reproductive system.
“The approval of drugs for women is lagging far behind that for men,” Berman said. “The causes are not so much that they are discriminatory against women—there is actually a higher degree of caution with women, due to reproductive health and safety concerns.”
Relief is currently available only in stores in California and Colorado.