Foria, a medicinal marijuana company that rocked headlines in 2014 with its "weed lube," has done it again. This time, the California-based brand wants to replace your Tylenol regime with a marijuana-infused product designed for everyone's favorite time of the month.
Foria Relief isn't a tampon, since it's not designed to absorb menstrual blood. Instead, the clinical-sounding "vaginal suppository" — which is worn with a panty liner or tampon — aims to soothe pain and muscular aches associated with periods.
It looks like a "small, white, pearl-sized bullet" and smells like gooey chocolate and coconut, explains marijuana blogger and researcher Lisa Rough in a review for Leafly. Foria Relief is made with just three ingredients: organic cocoa butter; THC oil, a marijuana extract that concentrates the plant's chemical compound responsible for psychological effects; and a cannabidiol-rich isolate that the company claims can combat inflammation.
Here's how it works. Users pop a suppository into the freezer for 20 minutes before administering, so that the cocoa butter doesn't dissolve too quickly upon insertion. Once the user slips the suppository into her vaginal canal as far as she can, she lies down with a pillow under her hips.
Then, the company claims, the chemical compounds in marijuana, called cannabinoids, start towork their magic on the nerve endings of the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and surrounding smooth muscle tissues. They supposedly help block pain signals received by the brain and reduce inflammation.
It's important to note, however, that while cannabinoids have been studied as potential pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, the evidence that they work — especially when applied directly — is slim. One recent review called the efficacy of topical cannabinoids "questionable."Another small study that looked at a cannabinoid spray to treat arthritis pain in particular said it worked better than a placebo, but the evidence supporting this conclusion was weak, and the side effects (like dizziness) were common.
The Foria Relief suppositories have not been clinically tested at all. While some people say they've found relief, some of that may be the placebo effect.
Still, among the people that have tested them, there are fans.
"After a day of constant disruption from my inflamed internal organs, the relief was palpable and pronounced," Rough writes in her review for Leafly. She notes that her downstairs also smelled "delicious."
The biggest variance among reviews was in regard to the length of the suppository's effectiveness, which ranged from an hour to all day. The company does not state an expected relief time on its website.
By now you're probably wondering if Foria Relief will get you high. Don't count on it.
Though the suppository contains both 10 milligrams of CBD and 60 miligrams of THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, Foria says in a press release that the "delivery format" prevents users from experiencing any psychoactive effects. THC is absorbed differently when ingested or inhaled, Racked reports.
Dr. Jennifer Berman, a Beverly Hills urologist better known as a host of the daytime talk show "The Doctors," worked with the company to develop Foria Relief. In an interview with VICE's Mish Way, she explains what makes Relief an attractive alternative to, say, popping an ibuprofen when period discomfort hits.
"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," says Berman.
"This is not about Foria being better or worse than prescription medication for treating cramps — nor is Foria FDA-approved, nor has it been clinically studied in women yet," she adds. "All we are talking about is that cannabis-based products help relax the muscles, and the uterus is a muscle."
Floria Relief costs a pretty penny. A four-pack of suppositories costs $44, whereas a 36-count pack of Playtex Sports Tampons will set you back $9.78 on Amazon.
Additional testing is needed to see if Foria Relief really works — and whether it's worth $11 a pop.