You Can Now ‘Snort’ Weed Using This Cannabis Nasal Spray
Update: This story has been updated to clarify certain statements and include comment from Vera Wellness.
When listing off drugs you can snort up your nose, marijuana usually doesn’t make the list. But with cannabinoid-spiked nasal sprays, that’s now possible, though when it comes to how high it gets you, sniffing might not be any different than smoking.
Homemade cannabis nasal sprays have existed on the fringes of the medical weed market for years now, but a Colorado company recently released a commercial version. Verra Wellness’s “nasal mist” comes in three ratios: 10:1 THC to CBD, 1:1, and 1:100. According to the company’s marketing material, spraying the mist up your nose allows for “increased bioavailability,” of the cannabinoids. But an expert I spoke to said there’s not much science to back up these kinds of claims.
“A lot of the stuff about bioavailability and any drug tends to be kind of hype-y,” said Dr. David Casarett, the chief of palliative care at Duke University who has researched and written about medical marijuana. “If one product had a bioavailability of 50 percent over, say, 25 percent, you could use a little less but it’s not like it’s a life changer.”
Casarett told me that ingesting cannabinoids through the nasal membrane does change the way it’s absorbed because it won’t first pass through your metabolism the way it does if you smoke or eat it. Verra Wellness’s co-founder Paul Johnson elaborated on how the nasal spray works differently than other methods, like smoking.
“Transmucosal delivery of cannabinoids by nasal spray is very different than smoking; It is safer and does not contain pyrolytic products (caused by heating) of a variety of compounds present in raw plant material,” Johnson wrote in an email. “We have developed formulations with good solubility properties, particle sizes, and sufficient purity to avoid subjecting delicate lung tissue to pharmacological action of cannabinoid formulations and typical impurities. We have worked with accredited labs to test our formulations for optimal delivery of cannabinoids.”
But it’s also harder to predict how your body will react to the drug when it enters your system by your nose.
“Absorption can be varied depending on what’s going on with your nose—if you have a cold or allergies, for example,” Casarett told me.
He also noted that the nasal membrane has high concentrations of enzymes that CBD has been found to deactivate, causing the body to temporarily not be able to metabolize other drugs, including THC. All of this means that it’s tricky to predict how a specific dose or ratio might affect you when you squirt it up your nostril instead of puffing it.
Casarett said this isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with nasal sprays—like any time you’re trying a new cannabis product, he recommends you “start low and go slow,” with your dosage. He also noted that it may be a more discreet way of consuming your cannabis since nasal sprays aren’t very obviously associated with weed the way, say, a bong is.
“I don’t see this being a game changer,” Casarett said. “But it is another option for people. “
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Cannabis Nasal Sprays: Do They Really Work?
THC and CBD-infused nasal sprays are the new industry brainwave. This method delivers a standard dose of cannabinoids directly to the bloodstream, and it’s supposed to increase the bioavailability compared to smoke, edibles, and other forms. Do scientists and users confirm what spray producers are saying?
The best is yet to come with pharmaceutical-like cannabis delivery forms, and nasal sprays are one such product beginning to appear in greater frequency. In regions where the plant is pretty much or completely legal, nasal sprays are today clinically tested and sold, hopefully addressing a specific demographic of patients with particular needs. Otherwise, the idea of “recreationally” snorting cannabis might sound a bit odd, at least to old-school stoners.
THC and CBD-infused nasal sprays are being successfully used to treat seizures, muscle spasms, chronic pain, and other severe medical conditions. Now, the industry is progressing forth as they create various spray products with different cannabinoid and terpene profiles.
HOW DO NASAL CANNABIS SPRAYS WORK?
The basic components of cannabis nasal sprays are a mix of saline solution and pharmaceutical-grade CBD and/or THC. The refreshing mist is likely to relieve stuffed noses, and thanks to the cannabinoids’ action, should provide the user with fast relief. Inflammation, seizures, and neurological disorders might also be addressed with this quick and painless form of medical cannabis.
Many drugs are produced as nasal sprays for systemic administration because this form is very efficient in crossing the blood-brain barrier. The thin nasal skin mucosa allows active principles to easily pass through the blood flow; thus, the nose-to-brain delivery system can increase both bioavailability and absorption speed. Cannabis nasal sprays also avoid the degradation of active principles in the body, which happens with edibles and other oral intake methods. This is the main argument supporting the transmucosal delivery of cannabinoids versus smoking, vaporizing, or eating cannabis derivatives. Though avoiding the inhalation of burnt vegetal matter is obviously an advantage, the supposed increased bioavailability claimed by nasal spray producers needs some more scientific validation.
Nasal absorption of cannabinoids, or any other substance, varies depending on the conditions of the patient’s internal nasal membrane. Furthermore, it seems that some enzymes also present in nasal tissues are deactivated by CBD, compromising our ability to metabolise other active principles. As a consequence, this new delivery form might not fully solve the issue of properly dosing THC and CBD, nor will it increase their effects.
People might not want to smoke cannabis, or they might not be able. Some patients may even prefer to avoid edibles as well, perhaps because they require immediate relief. Here is where a cannabis nasal spray might help. The device may also become another convenient and discreet form of consumption for all sorts of users, since nasal sprays are not commonly associated with cannabis. Unfortunately, cannabis science has yet to elucidate the effectiveness of one form of cannabis over another for a specific condition, and this is especially true in the case of new methods like nasal sprays.
Plus, North American regulators recently put cannabis nasal sprays under investigation since they’re not tested or monitored by federal health and safety agencies—even if they are commonly used as pharmaceutical devices. One reason is that millions of people develop what’s called “rebound congestion” with regular nasal sprays, where the nasal passages become used to the spray, and less responsive to the medication as a result. In turn, this can cause users to develop a dependence (not addiction) on the medication.
THE FUTURE OF CANNABIS NASAL SPRAYS
In addition to the potential applications of sprays to address all the conditions currently treated with cannabis, the industry is envisioning nasal sprays with anti-inflammatory cannabinoids and terpenes to target allergies, reduce sinusitis, and address other local conditions. After the eventual clinical trials, patients will decree the success or decline of nasal medical cannabis. Most likely, these products will cover the needs of a particular niche of users, and it’s good to know they have this new option of getting medicated, or high, as quickly as possible.
With THC and CBD-infused nasal sprays entering the market, these products have been met with some scepticism. Click here to find out what we know so far!