In the latest battle in the war against agonising period pains, suppositories filled with cannabis designed to be inserted into the vagina have hit the US market.
Many women experience period pain - or dysmenorrhoea - as the muscular wall of the womb contracts and presses against neighbouring blood vessels. This cuts off the blood supply to the womb, and causes pain, according to the NHS.
Similar in shape to tampons, the suppositories are said to deliver the pain-relieving properties of cannabis without making users feel high.
Sold in packs of four for $44 (£30), each FORIA Relief capsule contains 60mg of THC and 10mg of cannabidiol, as well as cocoa butter.
“Our intention is to share the powerful medicinal properties of this plant while utilizing modern extraction techniques to standardize purity and potency, thereby ensuring a safe and accessible experience for all women,” the FORIA website reads.
The cannabis treatment – which is made using plants grown outdoors in Northern California – interacts with the nerve endings around the uterus, cervix and the ovaries and also blocks mechanisms which cause inflammation.
But does it work? A reviewer for the website Broadly wrote that: “Within 20 minutes, my cramps totally disappeared.”
She added that while other pain relief methods wore off, “one Foria suppository did its job well into my evening.”
Foria is currently only available in US states where cannabis is legal, including California and Colorado.
However, women may be put off by the fact that the product is not yet evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration which regulates medications and is responsible for protecting public health.
Discussing her concerns about such a product, Dr Helen Webberley, of the Oxford Online Pharmacy, told the Huffington Post that all medicines in the US must be passed by the FDA.
“This capsule has not even been studied yet and it hasn't been passed by the FDA. The assumption is that, as cannabis can cause muscle relaxation, it may help to ease period pains.”
“I would be very worried about women using this product before it has been fully evaluated,” she said.
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Having been reclassified in 2009 from a Class C to a Class B drug, cannabis is now the most used illegal drug within the United Kingdom. The UK is also, however, the only country where Sativex – a prescribed drug that helps to combat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis and contains some ingredients that are also found in cannabis - is licensed as a treatment
2/12 North Korea
Although many people believe the consumption of cannabis in North Korea to be legal, the official law regarding the drug has never been made entirely clear whilst under Kim Jong Un’s regime. However, it is said that the North Korean leader himself has openly said that he does not consider cannabis to be a drug and his regime doesn’t take any issue with the consumption or sale of the drug
MARCEL VAN HOORN/AFP/Getty Images
In the Netherlands smoking cannabis is legal, given that it is smoked within the designated ‘smoking areas’ and you don’t possess more than 5 grams for personal use. It is also legal to sell the substance, but only in specified coffee shops
Although in some states of America cannabis has now been legalised, prior to the legalisation, police in the U.S. could make a marijuana-related arrest every 42 seconds, according to US News and World Report. The country also used to spend around $3.6 billion a year enforcing marijuana law, the American Civil Liberties Union notes
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Despite cannabis being officially illegal in Spain, the European hotspot has recently started to be branded, ‘the new Amsterdam’. This is because across Spain there are over 700 ‘Cannabis Clubs’ – these are considered legal venues to consume cannabis in because the consumption of the drug is in private, and not in public. These figures have risen dramatically in the last three years – in 2010 there were just 40 Cannabis Clubs in the whole of Spain. Recent figures also show that in Catalonia alone there are 165,000 registered members of cannabis clubs – this amounts to over 5 million euros (£4 million) in revenue each month
In December 2013, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill legalizing and regulating the production and sale of the drug. But the president has since postponed the legalization of cannabis until to 2015 and when it is made legal, it will be the authorities who will grow the cannabis that can be sold legally. Buyers must be 18 or older, residents of Uruguay, and must register with the authorities
Despite the fact that laws prohibiting the sale and misuse of cannabis exist and is considered a habit only entertained by lower-income groups, it is very rarely enforced. The occasional use of cannabis in community gatherings is broadly tolerated as a centuries old custom. The open use of cannabis by Sufis and Hindus as a means to induce euphoria has never been challenged by the state. Further, large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild
In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs, and started treating drug users as sick people, instead of criminals. However, you can still be arrested or assigned mandatory rehab if you are caught several times in possession of drugs
9/12 Puerto Rico
Although the use of cannabis is currently illegal, it is said that Puerto Rico are in the process of decriminalising it
RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images
The US state became the first in the country to legalise marijuana in January 2014. In February 2015, President Obama recently said he expects to see more states "looking into" legalisation. However, it is illegally to grow more than six cannabis plants and to possess more than 28 grams of the drug
Oaksterdam in Oakland, California, is the world's only university dedicated to the study and cultivation of cannabis. If you are court in California with anything up to an ounce of cannabis, you will be fine $100, but you will not get a criminal record, nor will you have to appear in court
Cannabis is grown in the wild and has been used to treat conditions such as gout and malaria. But, officially the substance is illegal to consume, possess and sell
Dr Webberley's concerns come after women were warned against using "herbal detox pearls" sold by a separate firm, which are inserted in the vagina. The product is marketed as a treatment for endometriosis, ovarian cysts and thrush.
However, Dr Jen Gunter, a US gynaeologist urged women in a blog post not to use the pearls and said they could cause toxic shock syndrome - a potentially fatal condition.
Tamieka Atkinson, the owner of Embrace Pangaea, told The Independent at the time that the Embrace Pangae balls are "holistic".
"Our product is not a drug by any means, and we make no claims of curing, diagnosing, or treating disease," she said.