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Rectal Suppositories Could Be the Future of Medicinal Cannabis

September 21, 2016
suppository tablet on white background
Many people can’t help but laugh the first time they hear the phrase “cannabis suppository.” But don’t be mistaken: This method of accessing the active ingredients in the cannabis is no joke. And the benefits are convincing a growing number Europe’s medical patients to make the switch from more traditional methods of consumption.

Until about five years ago, the vast majority of Europeans who treated their ailments with cannabis either smoked or vaporized the plant. But thanks largely to Rick Simpson, a Canadian who treated his cancer with cannabis oil and lived in exile in Eastern Europe between 2009 and 2013, more and more people started to discover the amazing properties of extracts. There was one big problem: Consuming extracts that had a high THC percentage—up to 90 percent in some cases—was overwhelming for many patients, especially those without previous experience with cannabis.

The benefits of suppositories—combined with how easy it is to make them at home—has made them quite popular.

“Some six years ago, after meeting with Rick Simpson, I started to produce extracts and provide them to many sick people. Illegally, of course,” said a producer in the Czech Republic who asked to go by Martin T. “But lots of them could not bear the psychoactive effects of THC.”

This prompted some patients and their caregivers to look for another way of ingesting the medicine. “I tried to infuse cocoa butter—with a little bit of shea butter and coconut oil—with the extract and made rectal suppositories,” Martin said. “Patients immediately loved them, especially those with digestive and urinary issues.”

Rectal suppositories seemed promising for at least two reasons. First, they go to work quickly. Suppositories exert systemic effects when they enter the rectal mucosa, spreading healing compounds quickly through nearby organs and into the bloodstream. Second, it’s an effective way of diminishing the “head-high” psychoactive effects of THC.

The benefits of suppositories—combined with how easy it is to make them at home—has made them quite popular, especially in Central Europe.

Despite the emergence of vaginal suppositories in the U.S., the suppositories Martin makes are for rectal use only. “A vagina has a very sensitive and specific environment, requiring a special gel carrier, which is pretty hard to get,” he explained. About 90 percent of his patients are now using only suppositories, he said, and the results have been amazing.


Do Cannabis-Infused Suppositories Actually Work? We Tried One to Find Out

One notable case is that of Václav Novák, 67, who suffers from prostate issues. In 2013, doctors found signs of cancer, measuring a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level of more than 10. They scheduled him to begin chemotherapy three months later.

Immediately after the diagnosis, Novák began using 1-gram suppositories, each containing one-tenth of a gram of cannabis extract with more than 70 percent THC and around 5 percent CBD. “I did not feel any high, which was a big difference from oral consumption, when 0.1 gram would get me couch-locked for half a day,” he said.

“I just felt pretty relaxed and slept much better. And the best thing was, when I went to the hospital after three months, there was no need for chemotherapy or any other treatment. Much to my doctor’s surprise, my PSA was back to zero.”

Lukas Hurt's Bio Image

Lukas Hurt

Lukas Hurt is Leafly’s central and eastern Europe correspondent. Originally from a small town outside Prague, he studied history and English at university. After a stint as a bartender in Ireland, he returned to his home country in 2010, where he now works as a translator, journalist, and editor focusing on cannabis issues. He has advocated for patients and recreational consumers, publishing articles and translating books and scientific studies. He is one of the main contributors to the highly popular Czech cannabis magazine Legalizace.

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  • So, interestingly, I was a big proponent of rectal suppositories for my patients with cancer. However, recent and some older studies show that absorption of Cannabinoids via the rectal mucosa is nearly nil. My patients, on the other hand, are doing well with the suppositories. So, I’m not sure what to make of this. Guess we need more studies.

    • Kaabi

      It is indeed an odd phenomenon, it doesn’t seem to absorb well but some patients do really well. It will be so interesting to learn why that is the case some day.

    • Lukas Hurysek

      Here in the Czech Republic we have hundreds of well-documented testimonials of ppl getting much better after using suppositories, but we usually recommend to take some extract orally as well (with not much THC). Definitely agree we need more studies into this.

  • Duncan20903

    Nothing new here. 3000 years ago the Egyptians used cannabis suppositories to mitigate the discomfort of hemorrhoids.

  • Kaabi

    This post is great for sharing yet another success story of cannabis stopping cancer. This is by far not the only testimonial and there are hundreds of other similar reports. You can see dozens of them as well as detailed analysis of the supporting science for free here:

  • Paula Noel Macfie

    ✨I have been educating patients and the community for over two years about ‘back door methods’. Zero head high and I get up to 120 mg at a time in personally. Rocket science for menstrual cramps, MS, neuropathy just to name a few. This isn’t new.

    Germany has 12th century suppository molds….and many cultures hav used ‘back door’ methods. We are just finally catching up.

    I am always happy to connect, share snd educate ‘back door’ methods:

    IG: backdoormedicine

  • Rhea Graham

    For those who think that since suppositories don’t make you high it must not absorb well, here is the answer for you:
    The Cannabis is quickly absorbed into the anal canal walls; if you deposit it just inside the first sphincter there is little to no high … but if it is a sleep supp, it will put you to sleep in minutes. By not depositing it too high, it goes to the liver via the portal vein instead of making the first pass through the liver – (which metabolizes the THC and makes you high). If you push it in higher, you will get higher because it gets to the liver via a different vein and is metabolized on the first pass. If you are using capsules to form the suppositories, be sure and remove the suppository from the capsule as it will not melt.

    Along those same lines, what food you eat and when you eat it is what matters greatly when you use edibles and capsules. If you don’t eat anything, you will get high faster (if the THC is activated) but the high will not last as long. If you eat something with the edible, it will take longer before you feel effects and the effects will last longer. If you eat fat 30 minutes before you take the capsule or edible, you will have less of a head high and more symptom relief because the liver is already busy metabolizing the fat. Best wishes!

    • john taylor

      I was under the impression that gel caps broke up with the moisture in the rectal cavity, but you say this is not the case?

      • Rhea Graham

        The ph in the anus is different than the mouth, and they don’t melt very fast if at all; typically they will come shooting back out well before they melt if the patient coughs or farts. Taking them out of the capsule is super easy, especially if you keep them frozen until doing so. CannaSupps are the best way to dose for many conditions.

    • Col

      Hi Rhea, This is very interesting. I’m wondering if suppositories are still ok to use for liver cancer? Does the THC still get into the liver if given rectally?

    • Kyle Vogt

      Why take diluted suppositories when you can take full strength by using a 1ml oral syringe. You can fill it with up to a 1/4,1/2 or 1 gram of straight RSO. this method is 100% more effective in delivering the RSO into the rectal cavity then the diluting it with ccocnut oil in some slippery suppositories that are 1/10th as potent. I would rather take too much RSO than not enough, as I’ve never heard of anyone dying from too much but I do know of several people who died as they took too little, too late.

  • Open Minds

    Hate to get too detailed here but make sure you:
    1) Clean out your rectal cavity before inserting suppository.
    2) Don’t insert too far up or you will reach the superior rectal vein which will result in first pass metabolism (which is the same effect as swallowing the medicine).
    Unfortunately, there are very few scientific studies on the bioavailability of rectal administration. One conducted on monkeys showed a bioavailability of 13.5%. Another study conducted with two patients deduced that the bioavailability was approximately twice that of oral ingestion but did not provide bioavailability percentages. In addition, the studies that were conducted showed that “bioavailability strongly differed depending on suppository formulations”, with THC-hemisuccinate having the best results. However, the average person does not have access to hemisuccinates.

  • disqus_EoO8HajunD

    When the suppository is inserted in the anus the anal sphincter will take over and place the suppository. This is assuming the anus is not damaged in anyway. 1 inch should be enough.

  • Martin

    I am doing supositories for my mum who has been diagnosed with leukemia . I am going for strains high in cbd or at least 1:1 ( cbd:thc). Does anybody has experience with this? What strain would you recommend for leukemia. I appreciate that I probably can’t be directed to any research , but if somebody has experience with this, any suggestions would be great.
    Thank you in an advence

  • Teresa

    I’m curious if the suppositories would be beneficial in treating Pediatric epileptic seizures? I just stumbled upon and a unfamiliar to this, wondering also if I can find them in a high CBD to low THC ratio? Thank you

  • Wouter van den Heever

    My experience: My son, fighting Hodgkins since Jan ’17 with alternative meds, did not want to get high all the time as he also need to work. so we changed from oral RSO to suppositories. 3 Weeks into the process it was all still well and he was able to tripple the dose, he suddenly camde down with severe stomach pains, nausea and eventually last nigh started to vomit. He’s currently in hospital and we’re waiting for the report from the gastrocopy. I have searched on the web and found this article on CHS (Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome) caused by overdosing on Cannabis. Any one here that has had experience of CHS? Can it be because of the high dosis taken rectally?

    • Spclfx033

      Hello there Wouter van den Heever,
      It is impossible for the body to overdose on cannabis… and here is why …

      The science of marijuana is quite fascinating…
      The cannabis plant has these things called cannabinoids… on a molecular level they look like donuts … a ring with a hole in the center….🍩

      We as humans have what you call, cannabinoid receptors… these on a molecular level look like small pencils … ✏️ There are over 177 different cannabinoids that we know of … I’m sure there are more that are still left to be discovered …
      The marijuana plant is one of the most intelligent plants on earth …

      When we ingest cannabis to any capacity, whether we are eating it, smoking it, vaping it, using topicals, or suppositories… our cannabinoid receptors are interacting with the cannabinoids from the plant …

      Cannabinoids are like DNA… we all have a different combination of these as well as the marijuana plant has its own DNA imprint …

      When you say that you think your son has overdosed …
      he may have gotten ahold of something that had pesticides , powder mold or any other foreign substance…

      Saying you overdosed on marijuana is like saying you overdosed on Vitamins…
      our bodies are naturally designed to take in the Cannabinoids from the marijuana plant …

      What our bodies do not utilize, our bodies will naturally process it out… just like vitamins … our bodies only take In what it needs from the vitamins… then processes the rest out…

      Since marijuana is a natural remedy for many ailments that we as human beings suffer from… it is Highly unlikely that your son overdosed …

      May I suggest that you get your products from a trusted source … or you can get a pesticide testing kit at your local gardening store or hydroponic store …
      What type of suppositories is your son utilizing ?
      It could be something in the compound of the capsules… there are other ingredients in these types of medicine … such as tumeric… Lavendar leaves, licorice root …feel free to write me back and let me know how your son Is doing and if you have anymore questions… I have been in the cannabis business for over 20’years… I live in California where cannabis is utilized for many many things…
      I have seen it do some pretty incredible things… hang in there and please tell your son that someone across the world 🌎 is sending him lots and lots of positive energy and healing thoughts his way … do take care…

      • Monsoon Groover

        “Saying you overdosed on marijuana is like saying you overdosed on Vitamins..”
        Strange as it may seem, too much of certain vitamins can be toxic. Long story short, don’t eat Polar Bear liver. Too much Vitamin A.

  • Shelly Conrad Ray

    I’ve read cannabis can be antibacterial, or is it “some” cannabinoids are?? If so, wouldn’t it unbalance colon flora?