A cannabis-based vaginal suppository is now on the market, claiming to help relieve menstrual cramps – but even if you were willing to try this very unorthodox method of dealing with period pain, should you?
Floria Relief – which contains only three ingredients: organic cocoa butter, CO2 distilled THC oil and CBD Isolate – promises “to maximize the muscle relaxing and pain relieving properties of cannabis without inducing a psychotropic ‘high,’ ” but it is has not been clinically tested or FDA-approved.
“Would I recommend something that’s not FDA-approved or monitored? That would not be my recommendation,” Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of The North American Menopause Society, tells PEOPLE. “You’d want to do a clinical trial to see how much [of the medication] women absorbed. Are they being under-dosed? Are they being overdosed?”
Pinkerton notes that an overdose of medical marijuana can cause unwanted side effects, including sedation, anxiety or paranoia.
“Health risks from non-FDA approved medications can be life-threatening,” she says. “If you significantly overdosed on medical marijuana, that could send you to the emergency room.”
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Pinkerton says she recommends non-steroidal ibuprofen or birth control as better methods for dealing with cramps.
“We try to avoid needing to use actual pain medication for cramps, because it interferes with women’s ability to function and to work,” she says.
Emily Lorber, a nurse practitioner at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, tells PEOPLE she is also alarmed by the lack of testing.
“While there may be some theoretical application in the role of cannabis for menstrual cramp treatment, valid research is absolutely necessary to prove its efficacy and safety,” she says. “It is unclear how much of the THC and cannabidiol (CBD) dose is absorbed via mucosal delivery, which poses risk of overdose.”
“In addition, the effects of THC and cannabidiol, as well as the cocoa butter contained in the suppository, may cause other issues in regards to the pH and flora in the vagina,” she continues. “For now, I would advise patients to stick to an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen.”