Do Cannabis Suppositories Work? The Low-Down on What’s Up With Rectal and Vaginal Delivery.

As scientific and public interest grows, more and more therapeutic products are being made with cannabis extracts, mainly the cannabinoid CBD. Options such as vaginal and anal CBD suppositories are entering the market but do they work and just how effective are they?
Written by 
Dr Shane McKeown, Acute Internal Medicine (AIM).
|Last Updated:
Cannabis suppositories

As with much research surrounding CBD there are plenty of benefits that research is suggesting people may benefit from. However there are still some health and safety measures that need to be taken into account before using this form of medicine.

Cannabis suppositories might sound like the latest crazy health trend but there are some interesting use cases out there in the world of wellness and medicine.

Before we get into exactly what they may or may not be able to do, what exactly are we talking about here?

Suppositories are solid medical preparations that are designed to deliver a treatment into the anal canal or vagina.

They rely on the suppository either dissolving or being coated in a liquid or gellike medicine. The medicine is then absorbed into the anal or vaginal lining, where it can begin to take effect. The lower groin area, especially around the anal canal has a rich and complex blood supply which can transport drugs further afield.

What’s the point of cannabis suppositories?

Although they are actually implicated in having a wide range of benefits, the main idea behind suppositories is to deliver medicine directly to the area that needs it, as opposed to having it digested in the gut and then delivered by the circulation. They are a common part of mainstream medicine, often used when people are unable to take medicine orally.

Then there is the problem of ‘first pass metabolism’. This medical term refers to the fact that a lot of medication and drugs (including THC for example) are processed (metabolized) by the liver before they are delivered to the rest of the body.

In real terms this means that the amount of active ingredient that reaches the desired part of your body can be greatly reduced, therefore minimising the beneficial effects you will receive.

By using cannabis suppositories you are allowing the CBD and THC within them to give you targeted relief, weather in the vaginal or anal area.

What do people use cannabis suppositories for?

This of course depends on your own personal circumstance and need. Most uses revolve around treating or preventing health conditions.

Anal suppositories have become a trend in the sexual enhancement world, where users insert the medication prior to anal sex. Otherwise they are targeted at people who have lower G.I issues or pain from haemorrhoids.

In a similar fashion, some women are experimenting with suppositories prior to vaginal sex. Medical usage typically covers combating menopausal symptoms or treating gynaecological conditions and related symptoms such as pain or discomfort.

Be aware that while suppositories may be advertised as ‘for anyone’ some may be made solely for vaginal or anal use.

Are cannabis suppositories safe?

The answer to this question needs to be answered before even discussing the effectiveness of this medication.

Really we have two questions. Are they safe for vaginal use and are they safe for anal use?

Then we can look at if they are actually as effective as some claim.

Vaginal suppositories

The reaction from expert gynaecologists around the world is that nothing should be inserted into your vagina and left for days on end, no matter what the proposed benefits.

This is because of something called Toxic Shockg Syndrome.

This is a serious condition that every girl and woman will hopefully already be aware of. It is caused by a common but nasty bacteria called staphylococcus aureus.

Leaving something in your vagina for a prolonged period of time (think hours and days rather than minutes) increases your risk of developing the syndrome.

Symptoms include fever, confusion, muscle aches and more. It is a serious condition that needs IV antibiotics.

So we would strongly advise against using cannabis suppositories for more than 30-60 minutes at a time. You may leave tampons in longer than this but most of the THC/CBD will have been absorbed by this time, so there is little point raising your risk for no benefit.

As a final note we would also avoid using them during pregnancy. There is some concern that they can affect a baby’s brith weight or delivery date so it is best to avoid until more is known.

So do they work?

There simply isn’t enough evidence to say yes at this point.

Online you will however find plenty of anecdotal evidence that they can help with everything from period cramps to endometriosis and more.

What we still don’t know is how many receive these benefits, how much of the benefit comes from placebo, and how much better or worse these suppositoires might be when compared to other treatment methods.

Anal Suppositories

The safety of anal suppositories seems a bit more clear. With the anal canal more resistant to infection than the vagina there is nothing to suggest so far that Toxic Shock Syndrome is such a problem here.

That being said we would still argue that any benefit you are going to receive will have been delivered from the medicine over the course of up to an hour, with most effect being delivered within the first 10 to 15 minutes.

There is a single study that compared the efficacy (how well something works) of oral vs rectal THC. The bioavailability resulting from the oral formulation was 45-53% relative to the rectal route of administration, due to a lower absorption and higher first-pass metabolism. The effect of THC on spasticity, rigidity, and pain was seen to be resulting in improved active and passive mobility. The relative effectiveness of the oral vs. the rectal formulation was 25-50%.

One of the standout findings from this study was that when both the physiological and psychological parameters were reviewed no measurable differences in the concentration ability, mood, or function of the cardiovascular system could be observed after administration of THC.


Evidence for CBD suppositories may be limited but the anecdotal reports are significant. This is more a case of ‘arriving at the party early’, the lack of evidence to hand is more to do with the lack of funding and the fact that CBD suppository use is very new.

What we can draw upon is the circumstantial evidence surrounding CBD – we do know that it can help with conditions like pain and inflammation, and that these effects can be found when CBD is applied topically (absorbed through the skin). The great news is that these benefits often come without any side effects.

There is much promise regarding CBD suppository use but this needs to be balanced against the risks – especially when inserted vaginally. Our advice would be to stay safe and only use suppositories for up to an hour or until the desired effect is achieved, whichever comes sooner.


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Dr Shane McKeown
Dr Shane McKeown
Acute Internal Medicine (AIM)
Dr Shane McKeown is a UK clinician with experience in both Medicine and Surgery. With a strong background in education, he currently teaches all grades of doctor and sits as examiner for foreign medical staff looking to work in the United Kingdom. Working within rehabilitation and therapy, he utilizes complementary treatments like CBD to provide holistic care where it is most effective. His expertise with CBD continues to be called upon by numerous brands to optimise their product offerings.

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