For science, for Sensi Seeds, for journalistic integrity, and for fun, I tried a cannabis suppository and wrote about the experience. If you’re looking for specific, local relief, don’t rule out taking a CBD oil suppository rectally. The rectum is very close to sections of your spine that control your lower torso — meaning that anal suppositories might benefit the lower half of your body for pain, inflammation, tension, and even for sex.
Recreational Rectal Use of Cannabis (Or, What I Did for Science)
The scientific and anecdotal reports on rectal cannabis use are surprisingly conflicting. Sometimes, the best way to research something is to do it yourself. For science, for Sensi Seeds, for journalistic integrity, and for pure fun, I tried a cannabis suppository and wrote about the results.
Recreational rectal use of cannabis is not a subject I’ve ever heard discussed. Vocal proponents of every other kind of cannabis ingestion can be found everywhere, from internet forums and international hemp fairs to coffeeshops and any given living room on a Friday night. The subject of savouring a potent high by inserting suppositories, however, has not been broached (at least with me). Is rectal cannabis the last taboo of recreational use? Does it even work? There was only one way to find out.
I’d never put cannabis, nor indeed any drug, in my nether regions before. I am familiar with the concept, but I’ve never been moved to try it.
When I was a joint smoker I enjoyed the ritual of making the perfect, tasty, smooth-burning cone. I imagine there’s an element of ritual in rectal cannabis use if one does it frequently enough. However, it’s unlikely to be the sort of thing you can take 20 minutes over in a roomful of friends whilst drinking tea.
Luckily, some friends are closer than others, and I was able to enlist a lab partner for my first foray into this brave new world.
Step one: Get some suppositories for recreational rectal cannabis use
Cannabis suppositories are not a product that you can buy in a coffeeshop, nor a pharmacy, even in Amsterdam. Luckily I was able to obtain some (from a source who wishes to remain anonymous). They were made from butane-extracted whole plant concentrate in a base of coconut oil, giving them a pleasant, almost chocolatey smell, rather like spacecakes. They weighed two grams each.
I had them tested and the results showed 16% THC and 1% CBD, which would definitely give a psychoactive effect if taken in any way that I was familiar with.
Having procured cannabis suppositories, our preparations were twofold: the classic ‘set and setting’. The former consisted of research. I found practical tips, including ‘lie on your side and bend one leg to make insertion easier’ and ‘don’t pass wind for at least 15 minutes afterwards’.
I found anecdotal reports: “For me, music starts playing in my head about 1 minute after “dosing”,”; “Within minutes I could feel a warm, pleasant sensation washing over my entire pelvic region”.
And I found science which said maybe it shouldn’t work at all.
What is the science behind using cannabis rectally?
According to Allan Frankel, MD, who has researched and written about rectal absorption of cannabis, nothing was felt by his test patients when they tried cannabis oil in cocoa butter. Analysis of their plasma revealed negligible THC and CBD levels. According to “Practical Pharmaceutics: An International Guideline for the Preparation, Care and Use of Medicinal Products”, the rectum does not absorb fats efficiently.
Any active substance in a suppository must first dissolve into the aqueous mucus that lines the rectum, and then pass into the bloodstream. It cannot be absorbed directly by the membrane without traversing the aqueous mucus layer.
Therefore active substances that are themselves lipophilic (such as cannabinoids) should not be combined with a fatty or oily carrier if they are intended for rectal use, as this will reduce their overall absorption. Since virtually every cannabis suppository I found mentioned online was in a fatty base (as was mine), this should have impaired their efficacy.
6 Differences Between Medicinal and Recreational Cannabis
The rectal veins – superior, middle and inferior
Assuming that some of the cannabinoid content makes it through the mucus, it then circulates either via the inferior and middle rectal veins into the inferior vena cava, bypassing the liver; or via the superior rectal vein to the liver where it is ‘first pass’ metabolized.
It was thought that the lack of psychoactivity resulted from THC missing the liver and therefore not metabolizing into 11 hydroxy delta-9 THC (11-OH-THC). This metabolite is more potent, and stays in the system for longer, than THC. It also crosses the blood-brain barrier more easily. Interestingly, the effect of many drugs is reduced by first pass metabolism, but not cannabis!
Large amounts of 11-OH-THC are produced when cannabis is eaten (although the unmetabolised THC has a low absorption rate), so this metabolic process determines much of the strength of the same dose when ingested in different ways. In other words, exactly the same dose of cannabis will produce different effects depending on whether you vape it, smoke it, eat it, or insert it into your rectum.
The most recent scientific research on the rectal absorption of THC was published in 1991, and used crab-eating macaque monkeys. (People to whom I’ve told this have said “poor monkeys!”, to which the reply is, have you seen what else they do to monkeys? These monkeys are the lucky ones.)
Results showed no rectal bioavailability of THC, but when the cannabinoid was processed to create a combination with the molecule ester hemisuccinate (THC-HS), the bioavailability shot up to 13.5% and the mean residence time of THC in the blood was 5.8 hours. THC-HS is water-soluble, which is why it dissolves into the aqueous mucus.
Back to my personal rectal cannabis experience
What all my theoretical research came down to was basically “anecdotes say something might happen, science says nothing should happen”. This being as far as I could get with ‘set’, I moved onto ‘setting’.
We put mattresses on the living room floor and made sure there were enough drinks and munchies on hand. I had music, films, and interesting picture books to stimulate us if needed. I considered lighting some candles, figuring I should make it as nice an experience as possible after subjecting my lab partner to descriptions of animal experiments and rectal aqueous mucus, but fire and altered states don’t mix so I just turned the lights down.
To give an accurate report as possible, we had abstained from any other drugs (including the legal ones) and I set my phone to beep at half-hour intervals so I could chart the experience.
We toasted each other with the large, slippery, dark green bullets. First lesson: insert them as soon after removal from the fridge as possible, because fingertip heat alone is enough to start them melting. However, this means they are basically self-lubricating, which isn’t a bad thing. We lay down, me on my back and my lab partner on his side, and waited.
After half an hour, I felt quite giggly. This could have been the beginnings of a high, or the incongruity of live-tweeting rectal cannabis use as part of my job. In response to a tweet asking me how it was going, I attempted to analyse what I was experiencing.
There was a mild tingling sensation, not unpleasant, around the ground zero area of application. I wasn’t able to say for sure if there was any psychoactive effect. My lab partner had fallen asleep, but he had travelled overnight from London to Amsterdam and arrived that morning. The data was inconclusive thus far.
What Hashish Did To Walter Benjamin
One hour into the experiment: getting high
My lab partner was still fast asleep and I was explaining to people on Twitter that I didn’t have IBS or IBD, this experiment was purely for research. A feeling of deep relaxation suffused me, especially my legs and pelvic area. I believe the use of suppositories to ease menstrual cramps could be very effective, based on this. I felt extremely tranquil, but not sleepy, and decided to finally get up and go to the kitchen for a change of scenery and to see if any psychoactive effects made themselves known.
They did. Once in the kitchen, the munchies kicked in with a vengeance and I noticed that colours and patterns were enhanced. I heated up some soup; flavours were enhanced too. I giggled to myself thinking about the great Dr Lester Grinspoon’s realisation that he was having his first cannabis experience when the pizza he was eating became the best he’d ever tasted.
Despite being a clearly recognisable cannabis high, what I was experiencing was unlike what I’ve felt when eating, smoking or vaporising it. My head felt clear and I felt peaceful yet alert; a sativa type of high without the soaring headrush or potential confusion.
It was extremely enjoyable and not at all overpowering, yet I was definitely in an altered state. The dragon trees in my living room looked fascinating. Getting back under the duvet was lovely. I felt no need for additional entertainment. There was an opiate-like quality to the contentment and relaxation, but no nausea or feelings of disassociation.
An hour and a half in: definitely high
I was still feeling the same effects, which seemed to have hit a plateau rather than fading or intensifying. My lab partner woke up and said he wasn’t sure if he was feeling anything apart from very relaxed, but he definitely felt like eating something. He just wasn’t sure what. (In retrospect, this was a total giveaway that he was experiencing the effects!) The following conversation took place:
“Is it chocolate?”
“Is it oatcakes with vegan cream cheese?”
“Is it… (I am having trouble remembering what else there is to eat) …is it tomatoes?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Ooh, is it pineapple soy yogurt?”
“YES. Yes, it is. Oh yes.”
“We are definitely high.”
We devoured a litre of said yogurt in under three minutes. It tasted fantastic. Then we lay back down and discussed the high. It was strong but not psychedelic, and deeply physically relaxing. The best analogy is that of lying in a warm bath that you don’t want to get out of. All muscle tension was dissolved.
Alert, talkative, and surprisingly fragrant
We felt warm and heavy but not sleepy, and the effect seemed to end at the upper neck – literally as though lying in a bath with only your head out of the water. However, it was not a ‘couchlock’ stone. We remained alert and talkative. Although the effect was powerful, it was not at all disorienting or overwhelming.
(There was one additional fact that I was not expecting. I hadn’t read about it anywhere during literally hours of research. So, dear reader, I will share it with you. After eating, the digestive system starts up. This can lead to passing wind. And if you’re experimenting with rectal use of cannabis, this causes your wind to smell like a growroom of strong sativas just before harvest. You’re welcome.)
Where Did 420 Come From, And Where Is It Going?
The following day: Still high
It was also very, very long-lasting. Neither of us use cannabis regularly anymore and consequently we both have low tolerance; even so, I was not expecting to still be high the next morning. After I left for work, my lab partner had a large breakfast and went back to bed.
By the time he texted me at 15:00 to say he had just woken up and could I get some more pineapple yogurt, the effects I had felt had almost completely worn off. It took him several more hours to feel completely back to normal. This makes rectal use of cannabis by far the most economical method I’ve tried.
More research is needed on the rectal use of cannabis
Based on my research, what conclusions can be drawn? Firstly, there is no way that we were experiencing a placebo effect. I’ve used enough cannabis to know the difference. Secondly, although I had no way of measuring THC in our blood plasma, I can assure you that there was plenty sloshing around our endocannabinoid systems.
So how did it get there? It’s fairly safe to assume that at least some THC entered the superior rectal vein and achieved first pass metabolism into 11-OH-THC. I was aiming for this to happen, so I literally aimed for it (unlike medicinal users who would presumably keep the suppository lower in the rectum to avoid it).
It might be possible that the effect was so long-lasting because any THC missing the first pass when it initially entered the bloodstream via the inferior and middle rectal veins would eventually reach the liver. If this is so, a second phase of metabolism into 11-OH-THC could have taken place long after the initial dose.
However, for the THC to get to any of the rectal veins, it still needs to traverse the aqueous mucus layer. As previously stated, this shouldn’t be possible without the presence of the hemisuccinate ester. Could it be that some part of the process of making the butane-extracted concentrate creates THC-HS, or a similar enough ester or analogue to permit absorption to occur?
The experiments on the macaque monkeys used THC only, not whole plant extract. Could the presence of other cannabinoids, the ‘entourage effect’, make the crucial difference? However, Dr Frankel’s studies used full spectrum cannabis oil in cocoa butter, and that did not seem to work. The doctor himself concludes that more research is needed in order to take full advantage of this delivery method.
Benefits of rectal cannabis use
Having tried it, I can think of various benefits for both medicinal and recreational rectal cannabis use. There’s the long-lasting deep relaxation, which would definitely relieve pain and muscle tension. The extended ‘munchies’ effect would doubtless aid anyone who needed to gain weight, plus the delivery method means that there is no risk of vomiting up oral appetite stimulants. The amount needed for an effective dose is small, and the dosage is easy to control.
There is also the advantage over edibles (such as cake or sweets) of it being highly unlikely that someone will accidentally insert a cannabis suppository thinking it is a harmless treat. There are numerous tales of people eating ‘medibles’ by accident, and they seldom end well. However, in all my years of psychonautics, I have never heard of anyone casually inserting a random suppository they found lying around.
Work the following day was a little more challenging than usual, but by no means impossible. I would not have wanted to drive or operate heavy machinery, but the clarity of the high was fine for writing, interacting with colleagues, going to the shops, and cooking dinner. For people who need effective pain relief without being incapacitated, this would be ideal.
CBD for Pelvic Pain, Sciatica & More: How Rectal Suppositories Could Help
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re aware of the growing trend of putting CBD oil and cannabis-infused suppositories where the sun don’t shine. For many of us, putting things up our butts is a rare — or nonexistent — experience, especially since there are plenty of other ways to take CBD or THC.
But if you’re looking for specific, local relief, don’t rule out taking a suppository rectally. Not only is the rectum part of the digestive tract (a system that can benefit from cannabinoids), it’s also very close to sections of your spine that control your lower torso — meaning that anal or rectal suppositories might benefit the lower half of your body in unexpected ways. And for people who are intrigued by the sensual possibilities of anal play (but maybe a bit intimidated), the power of cannabinoids to relax muscles and soothe pain could make offer an additional route for sexual enhancement.
When Did People Start Putting Weed in Their Butts?
For decades, people in the medical cannabis community have endorsed taking suppositories rectally — particularly for cancer patients whose chemotherapy-induced nausea prevents oral administration.
Foria was the first company to promote vaginal use of cannabinoids for sexual pleasure and menstrual relief (at least in the modern world) and the effectiveness of that route got us curious about other routes for pleasure and pain relief, leading to our anal play suppository Explore .
But humans like to experiment, so we’ve subsequently heard about all sorts of other reasons people take our suppositories rectally :
Which all makes sense, given that cannabinoids have a surprising number of benefits — including being potent anti-inflammatory compounds. And rectal therapeutics have been embraced by our ancestors for thousands of years for treating pelvic ailments: Egyptian scrolls from 1500 BC describe over 700 herbal medications that were applied rectally .
All this might leave you wondering whether you’ve been missing out if you haven’t explored the therapeutic upsides of going this route. So instead of leaving you to explore in the dark, we’re shedding some light on the science behind anal suppositories. Read on to learn about the many ways medicine — and CBD suppositories — can accomplish wonders when you let them in the back door.
Drugs in Your Derriere: What Happens?
When molecules enter your body via the back door, their final destination depends entirely on their chemical properties.
For instance, alcohol and very water-soluble medications can easily pass across rectal tissue into the bloodstream, which gives them very quick access to your body. This is why vodka-enemas and cocaine-smuggling can be incredibly dangerous — rectal delivery of toxic drugs skips over your body’s emergency eject function (aka vomiting).
However, not all molecules travel so efficiently — if at all — into your bloodstream. The larger the molecule and the less water-soluble it is, the more likely it will stick around locally and diffuse into the surrounding tissues, which are full of welcoming fatty lipids. Instead of circulating through your bloodstream and affecting the entire body, these larger molecules have much more localized effects in the pelvis.
That’s why, compared with oral drugs & medicines, most medical suppositories provide relief to the pelvic region and digestive tract while producing fewer full-body side effects . Anti-inflammatories, anesthetics and anti-tumor drugs are currently used in medical suppositories for:
CBD & THC: Why They’re Not Like a Vodka Enema
Cannabinoids like CBD oil and THC don’t dissolve into water (they’re hydro-phobic ). Instead, they dissolve more easily in oils (they’re fat-soluble ). This is the reason that cannabis & hemp extracts usually come in a fat like coconut oil, hemp seed oil, or butter — and why our CBD Suppositories are made with cocoa butter.
Despite their rich history and therapeutic potential, modern research into the behavior of rectally-delivered cannabinoids is lacking. To the best of our knowledge, only one study has tested whether or not cannabinoids from fat-based suppositories reach the bloodstream. When monkeys were given high doses of THC in an oil-based suppository, it only reached the bloodstream if it was first chemically modified (into THC hemisuccinate ).
However, the science is far from settled, and everyone’s body is unique. Cannabis doctors have told us about patients experiencing full body effects from rectal suppositories, and we’ve found that some of our customers report a full-body effect after using our suppositories, which only contain natural cannabinoids in organic cocoa butter.
Whether you experience this or not, current evidence suggests that rectal cannabinoids are mostly going to stay within the tissues of the pelvis. So, what’s in the neighborhood?
Quite a lot, actually.
The Anal Landscape
If you’re already familiar with anal anatomy, feel free to skip ahead, but this amazing transition zone between the internal and external world deserves a proper introduction.
The back door — your anus — opens into the anal canal. This narrow canal is typically 1-1.5 inches long and contains sphincter muscles that regulate what goes in and out.
Past the gates of the anal canal is the rectum, a stretchy passageway about 5 inches long. This section of the digestive tract serves as a temporary storage facility for whatever travels out of — or into — the back door.
When the rectum is full, the sensation of being stretched tells your body to either send the contents out through the anus or back up into the colon if possible. The colon is lined with sponge-like tissue that absorbs water (which is why a long-delayed bowel movements can lead to constipation).
Surrounding the anal canal and rectum are some very “sacred” parts of our bodies. The lowest region of the spinal cord is here — the sacrum — and it’s the root source of many sensations that occur in the pelvis and legs.
Directly opposite the sacrum (on the other side of the rectum) are organs that can bring us intense pleasure or pain: the vagina and uterus (for females), or the prostate and bladder (for males).
When you insert a little rocket-shaped suppository and let the cocoa butter slowly melt, the tissues lining your rectum and anal canal become coated with cannabinoid-packed oil. From this oil, CBD and/or THC slowly diffuse into and throughout the surrounding tissues. Where do these molecules end up, if not the bloodstream?
The nerves in the pelvic region carry a variety of signals & sensations. Not only do they carry signals from your anus to the decision-making headquarters of the central nervous system, they also carry messages back to the muscles and glands of the pelvic region, based on how your nervous system interprets these sensations.
Sensations experienced throughout the pelvis contribute to both “felt” sensations (tactile & structural), as well as subconscious perceptions of well-being. Many sensations felt in your anal canal & rectum can feed directly into your “fight-or-flight” response or its opposing “rest-and-digest” response (through the sympathetic nervous system or the parasympathetic nervous system, respectively). Together, these alert/relax signals help your body to coordinate when to get sexually aroused, when to digest — or when to temporarily halt these functions and panic .
Where cannabinoids fit in: It’s not so much that cannabis & hemp suppositories make you feel “good,” but rather they make you feel “not bad” — soothing the nerves that perceive pain. Research has found that both CBD and THC help decrease the sensation of pain through nerve receptors TRPV1 and CB1 , respectively. When bad sensations in your pelvis go away, it leaves room for you to feel more of what’s good.
The pelvic region is packed with important muscles that cannabinoids can influence.
Ringing your anal canal are two sphincter muscles — one that you control, and the other that is told by the parasympathetic nervous system when to “let go.” Further upstream, the puborectalis muscle tugs right where your anal canal and rectum meet, which creates another barrier between your rectum and the back door. (This is also why many people love squatty potties: when you squat, this muscle tends to relax!)
If you want things to painlessly enter or exit your rectum, the puborectalis muscle and both sphincters need to relax together. And because two of these muscles are controlled by your subconscious, you can’t simply will this relaxation to happen. This is why most tutorials on anal sex focus first on spending time fostering feelings of comfort & safety.
Looking at the bigger picture, these muscles belong to the pelvic floor — a group of muscles you might already be familiar with. Collectively, the pelvic floor supports pelvic organs and helps maintain continence. While kegel exercises focus on strengthening the pelvic floor, many people actually suffer from pelvic floor muscles that are too tight, which can cause painful sex, urinary problems, or even pinched nerves (as in some cases of sciatica).
Where cannabinoids fit in: Many people who try cannabis suppositories rectally are surprised by how relaxed their pelvic muscles become and — more specifically — how much easier anal play becomes or how much their period cramps subside . As discussed above, CBD and THC desensitize pain receptors, which could help your nervous system relax and ease muscle contractions. Additionally, when skeletal muscles (ie pelvic muscles) are bathed in cannabinoids, they’re physically unable to hold as much tension . Some men report that rectal suppositories help to increase penile bloodflow, helping with the ability to achieve and maintain an erection.
Immune Cells & Inflamed Tissues
For some of us, pelvic inflammation can ravage our daily lives. Hemorrhoids or digestive disorders often coincide with inflammation in the anal canal or rectum. Other sources of inflammation in the pelvis can include arthritis, physical injuries and the ups and downs of the menstrual cycle. And inflammation can actually pinch nerve roots within the spinal cord, setting off downstream health conditions like sciatica.
But most of your pelvic region is buried within your body, so how can you know if you suffer from inflammation? Stiffness or pain could be an indication that your immune system is working overtime. Temporary inflammation from injuries, overuse or painful periods can be treated at home, but if you suffer from chronic pelvic inflammation, consult with a medical professional. Why?
In addition to diagnosing potential conditions like endometriosis, a doctor can assess whether chronic inflammation should be treated to prevent future health problems. For instance, inflammatory bowel disease increases a person’s susceptibility to diseases like colorectal cancer .
A 2012 study on colitis (an inflammatory colon condition) showed that mice receiving rectal CBD experienced greater relief than with oral dosage.
Because internal inflammation and swelling are sensed by your subconscious (through the autonomic nervous system), don’t be surprised if you experience an overall increased sense of wellbeing.
CBD suppositories may also relieve pains you’ve been ignoring — it might be useful to tune in to how your pelvis feels once the CBD wears off. This practice could help you pinpoint trouble zones and muscular imbalances that a massage therapist or physical therapist could help you with in the future.
Rectal? Or Vaginal?
As a note to those with vaginas: You might want to experiment to see if Foria suppositories are more effective at relieving pelvic issues when taken rectally versus vaginally. For period cramps, the back door is a great option if you’re currently experiencing a flow and have… obstacles in the way.
If you’re using suppositories for sexual enhancement & relaxation, be aware that oil-based suppositories and lubricants are not compatible with latex condoms.
What to Expect
If this is your first time trying a cannabis suppository, there’s a chance you’re worried about potential cognitive side effects. Although most people who use our CBD suppositories do not experience a strong “high,” we do occasionally hear from people who end up feeling mildly “elevated” or deeply relaxed.
Because the release of cannabinoids from cocoa butter is low and slow, you might feel the effects for a day or more — which is almost universally regarded as an upside for CBD suppository users. Although Foria suppositories are molded for single-use application, feel free to experiment first with smaller doses by cutting off a small amount and re-shaping it (and then firming it in the refrigerator).
Do our suppositories help you with something we forgot to mention? We’d love to hear about it!
Want more? Sign up for our newsletter