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A new observational study by a Harvard professor will look at whether cannabis suppositories can help relieve menstrual symptoms.

Foria is a California based startup that develops marijuana products for women including a marijuana suppository called ‘Relief’. Now Foria’s “weed tampon”, as it’s nicknamed, is part of a Harvard research study looking to determine the benefits of using marijuana-based inserts to treat menstrual cramps.

The observational study will monitor 400 women who will use Foria’s marijuana-based suppository to treat menstrual problems. Foria also makes marijuana lotions, sprays and vaporizers pens targeted at women’s health and sexuality.

Cannabis has been associated with lots of health benefits, but commercially using it to treat menstrual symptoms is a new development. While the nickname “weed tampon” infers a cotton-based product, it is instead a cannabis-based suppository pill that when inserted gets absorbed instantly. Foria has raised $2 million in funds from Gotham Green Partners for cannabis health products for women.

Marijuana contains both cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis which does not make users feel high, while THC is the psychoactive component of the plant that makes people feel high. Foria has several products for women’s health with only CBD, but its Relief products have both CBD and THC.

Staci Gruber, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core and the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at the McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, is the leader of the research study and will be using Foria’s marijuana suppository pill exclusively for the menstrual relief study. 

Funded by Foria and Flow Kana, the observational study will follow 400 women participants using Foria’s cannabis suppository for a few months and then report on their observations with the product.

“What we’re looking to do is take anecdotal information and turn it into data,” Gruber told Business Insider.

According to Gruber, a clinical trial is the holy grail and could hopefully be conducted after the observational study, but clinical trials are more expensive. In a clinical trial, the marijuana suppositories would be compared to a placebo in relieving menstrual symptoms. Foria CEO Mathew Gerson said “women have been saying it works for 10,000 years,” and the observational study might help encourage more women to try marijuana suppositories.

“What actually made this market was empathy,” Gerson said. “We serve the plant, we serve our clients, and as a result, our investment community and the people that support our brand benefit from that.”

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