UNITED STATES—Since ancient times, humans have relied on plants and herbs as natural forms of medicine, healing and care. Modern science has proven that these time-honored naturopathic botanical remedies are more than “woo-woo” fads of the moment, offering incredible intrinsic benefits for improving the mind, body and spirit. While there is plenty of research to support holistic health, more than half the population remains in the dark about tackling the inevitable realities of the unpredictable, intense and downright nightmarish symptoms associated with menopause: hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, weight gain and mood swings. When friends Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas were faced with the same health concerns, they decided to take matters into their own hands by launching Hello Again, a cannabis suppository brand designed specifically to provide long-awaited relief for their peers.

“When cannabis became decriminalized in California, we went into a dispensary out of curiosity,” Mapes says. “Neither of us had any relationship with cannabis, but, from the small bit of information we’d heard about THC and CBD, we knew the plant had health benefits. When we saw the products on the shelves and learned about their effects, we had a lightbulb moment.  Our hunch that cannabis was uniquely suited to address the unwanted effects of menopause was confirmed.”

The fact that neither Mapes and Pappas were cannabis users became its own benefit: they had an objective opportunity to test drive the efficacy of their own product and become loyalists to the power of plant-based medicine. Partnering with medical consultants at UCLA and professional formulators at Lost Horse Supply Company, Mapes and Pappas spent nearly two years experimenting with different ratios of CBD, THC, and a mixture of mood-regulating botanicals in order to nail the perfect formulation for their “vagitories” (vaginal suppositories) as an elixir for often agonizing symptoms. For example, melatonin and chamomile used for Hello Again Sleep promote calmness, while green tea extract and schisandra used for Hello Again Everyday boost mood and concentration during the day.

When considering the slew of menopause-related conditions, vaginal dryness is often considered one of the most uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms, leading to burning, soreness, itching, burning, pain during sex and recurring urinary tract infections. While topicals, salves and lubricants address certain problems, administering a vaginal suppository offers a more direct way of tackling the problem immediately—and gets the thumbs up from forward-thinking OB/GYNs.

“The female reproductive tract is dense with cannabinoid receptors for quick, local relief and the vaginal mucosa is rich with blood vessels and capillaries for systemic absorption,” Pappas says.  “This means THC can be utilized without the typical psychoactive high. It’s quick, consistent and efficient—straight to the source! Hello Again is formulated to melt quickly with minimal to no leakage, protect the pH balance of the vaginal tract, provide soothing moisturization and have a clean, pleasant smell.”

Since its original conception, the brand has evolved with the rapidly growing industry, as the dispensary experience now caters to a broad range of consumers from full-strength products focused on medical patients and wellness-centric tinctures and salves to recreational treats. Thoughtfully-made, lab-tested products now come with full breakdowns on the label information addressing THC, CBD, and specific extractions of cannabinoids like THC-A, CBN, CBG, and so on.

Launching in early February 2020, just weeks before the nationwide shutdown, might have seemed like the worst time to push out such an ambitious project. However, the opposite effect occurred: the brand received an outpouring of support from canna-curious women of all ages who were open to trying cannabis for the first time.

“We knew that Hello Again could bring relief to women in menopause, but what has been a great surprise is the general well-being it is bringing to women of all ages,” Mapes says. “We have had women tell us it has helped with a range of other health conditions including bursitis, PMS, endometriosis, general anxiety and has even led to an increase in libido for some women.”

Still, as new business founders, the two face challenges each day adapting to rapid fire changes in technology, business, distribution and product regulation. Mapes and Pappas remain grateful that they have compiled a nimble team that is involved with every aspect of Hello Again’s development, manufacturing, marketing and sales in this competitive market.

As of now, Hello Again is currently focused on expanding its reach within California, optimistically keeping an eye on other markets with the long-term goal of making the product available on a larger scale to help women in need. Based on encouraging feedback from consumers about the product’s strong efficacy, these two enterprising women are confidently pushing forward in their mission to expand their product line.

“We are full of good ideas for women and have been encouraged by the positive feedback,” Pappas says. “We believe in the wisdom and power of women and are committed to helping women feel like themselves so they can live into their fullest potential.”