Using cannabis to treat medical conditions is gaining in popularity and acceptance every day. While smoking, vaping, edibles, and topical applications are very familiar the use of suppositories is still in the shadows and a relatively unknown alternative. After learning about the success many people claim to have with suppositories I decided to bring this helpful information to the masses. I quickly learned, and was shocked to find, that the effectiveness of cannabis oil (CO) suppositories was a topic of heated debate! Suddenly, my idea of a quick and easy informational post ballooned into an amateur research exercise and science project to identify points in the debate I could confirm, dispel points that didn’t checkout, and develop a better understanding of the topic in general. This post I endeavors to explain many things about CO suppositories; what the debate over effectiveness is about, possible benefits, physiology involved, personal testing experience, what my experience proved to me.
WHAT’S THE DEBATE ALL ABOUT?
Medication administered rectally in the form of suppositories is used in general medicine to provide a rapid, very efficient uptake and absorption into the circulatory system. CO suppository advocates propose that the same applies to the efficiency of THC uptake and it can reach up to 70% with suppositories while oral ingestion and smoking top out at around 20%.
WHAT WOULD BE THE BENEFITS OF CO SUPPORITORIES?
There are two key attractive benefits of suppository use. One benefit is the high efficiency and bioavailability of rectally administered meds. If the absorption efficiency can reach 50%-70% the cost effectiveness per volume of CO used is very desirable and would provide substantially more medicine for the same money. Moreover, the ability to deliver a higher dosage of CO to the blood and areas requiring treatment would be greatly enhanced.
Second, and more complex, is the benefit of avoiding most, or all, psychoactive effects of THC. The psychoactive effects from smoking or orally ingesting CO can be so devastating for some users that they’d rather forgo using CO despite any potential it may have in their treatment. If large amounts of THC were able to be absorbed without psychoactive effects many people who currently can’t medicate with CO could enjoy its healing powers.
The lack of psychoactive effects of THC is interpreted very differently by the proponents and the doubters in this debate. Proponents say if a suppository is administered properly, in the lower section of the rectum, the THC is absorbed in a way that avoids psychoactive effects. The other side of the debate points to the lack of psychoactive effect as proof that the CO is simply not being absorbed and distributed through the circulatory system. I needed a lot more information because I had zero knowledge concerning the physiology of the rectum or how it functions within the circulatory system so I started searching for answers and asking lots of questions.
RECTAL PHYSIOLOGY, BLOOD FLOW, AND DRAINAGE WITH RESPECT TO SUPPOSITORY ABSORBTION, METABOLISM AND THC INDUCED PSYCHOACTIVITY?
The physiology, drainage and blood flow away from the rectum differs between the upper and lower sections. Understanding the differences between the upper 1/3rd and lower 2/3rds of the rectum gives clarity to why a CO suppository in the lower rectum could circumvent the onset of psychoactive effects brought on by THC absorption.
The upper 1/3rd of the rectum is part of the hepatic portal system where nutrients are absorbed, drainage occurs through the portal vein, the blood is transported to the liver and metabolized by the liver, then onto the heart for general distribution to the body. When delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) passes through the liver some is metabolized into the stronger and more psychoactive 11-hydroxy-THC. Oral consumption of CO essentially follows this same flow through the liver, referred to as first pass metabolism. Higher pressure in the upper region of the rectum more readily facilitates oil based medicine absorption and can be tested by putting some CO way up there and letting the psychoactive circus begin.
The lower 2/3rds functions much differently. This section drains to the internal iliac vein which bypasses the liver and is delivered to the right atrium of the heart, to join the systemic circulation, and off to the body. Advocates of the CO suppositories say that by missing the liver this way the lack of THC metabolites greatly limits or eliminates psychoactive effects of THC.
WHAT I WANTED TO LEARN BY TESTING
First, I wanted to determine what kind of physical or psychoactive effects I would experience by using CO suppositories. Second,I wanted to test stress and anxiety reduction in addition to pain relief.
PLAN FOR TESTING
The goal for pre-test preparation was to cleanse my blood of any residual THC. THC for a single use is estimated to stay in the blood for 12-24 hours while those who use cannabis on a regular basis can expect TCH to remain in the blood for nearly a week. To ensure there would be no trace of THC in my blood prior to the experiment I abstained from anything cannabis for 2-weeks. Abstaining ahead of the testing would also increase sensitivity to any physical or psychoactive effects brought on by the suppository testing.
With cleansed, THC-free blood it was time for truth, an unbridled search for scientific knowledge, and putting something where nothing has ever been put before. At 6 p.m. I put on the recommended latex glove, inserted the suppository just inside the sphincter, no more than 1 ½ inches inside, making sure it stayed in the lower area of the rectum, laid on the bed for a few minutes hoping I did it correctly and very thankful the kids didn’t come barging in at the most inopportune time. The process was very simple and much less stressful than I anticipated. After a few minutes I stood up, half expecting something to come shooting out, but much to my relief everything seemed very normal.
After 10-minutes the effects undoubtedly showed the first signs of effectiveness with an almost imperceptible body calming sensation. By the 30-minute mark a full body calming was in full effect. It wasn’t a strong, stony body high, but more like the comforting feeling of being tension free and wrapped in a warm blanket. I also recognized a sensation in my mouth and jaw that I often identify with cannabis consumption. There was an interesting, very slight feeling creeping up the back of my neck that felt like the CO was flirting with imposing a head-high but it held short and left me clear headed the entire time. My body was high, my psyche was soothed, and my ability to reason untouched. Finally, when I turned in for the evening I was well relaxed and had a solid, serene night sleep. I woke up with ease the next morning and felt great with none of the hangover effects often associated with edibles. After getting around and completing my morning duties it was time for the 8 a.m. dose. I followed the same procedure as the previous night and was once again surprised by how easy the process was. The effects of the morning dose were an exact repeat of the night before. It made for a very pleasant, relaxed, clear headed, and pain free morning. A little later, in the early afternoon I became tired and at 2 p.m. I took one of the best naps of my life. I woke up from the nap feeling great, perfectly clear headed, with all discernable sensations of the CO gone. From the feedback my body provided there was no doubt in my mind the CO had been absorbed and had worked its magic on me.
First, I was able to identify definite physical effects of the CO suppositories but no psychoactive effects at all. The physical effects I identified left little doubt that absorption of the CO defiantly took place. How much absorption took place was hard to judge because I’ve never before experienced a body-high in the absence of a head-high. My experience with the disjointed body-high supports the idea that when administered in the lower area of the rectum any THC absorbed bypasses the first pass metabolism, misses the liver, and therefore has little to no psychoactive effect.
I think it’s clear that for people with medical conditions requiring treatment in the pelvic area where the suppository can deliver the CO directly into contact with the needed treatment area it would be advantageous to use CO suppositories. For those treating pain, stress, depression, general well being and would like to forego the head-high associated with THC I would highly recommend giving CO suppositories a try and judge the effectiveness for yourself.