When I first started studying Aromatherapy, I noticed there were a lot of mentions in my aromatherapy texts and in the general aromatherapeutic literature about essential oil suppositories and their use in Europe. I’ll be honest: at first I didn’t even know what a suppository was. I had to look it up on Wikipedia and realized that a suppository is a medicinal delivery mechanism…that you insert into your rectum or your vagina. I must be an especially squeamish person, because the thought of that used to really, really, REALLY gross me out.
But one really good thing that all of these texts mentioned about suppositories is that they bypass the liver (which I guess stands to reason, because the liver processes things in a one-way direction, i.e., stuff going from mouth to anus, and not the other way around). I can see how this would be beneficial, especially because some essential oils are known to cause liver toxicity with prolonged use. Recently, however, I was reading Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt’s magnificent text, “The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils,” and I discovered yet ANOTHER reason that essential oils are sometimes delivered via suppositories – and it’s a very good one. Apparently, essential oil suppositories are wonderful for healing deep-seated and severe chronic bronchitis (!). Dr. Schnaubelt writes, “[Suppositories] deliver the essential oils directly to the lung tissues where they are…needed the most: the lower bronchial capillaries.” How the heck does sticking essential oils up my butt bring them straight to the lungs, I wondered? Well, the answer is on page 137:
Essential oils absorbed into the abdominal veins bypass the liver…they are fed directly into the heart-lung circulatory system without first being subjected to biotransformation by the liver detoxification enzyme system. Consequently, they reach the lower bronchial capillaries in their original lipophilic and volatile state, still capable of eliminating pathogenic microorganisms and dissolving and expectorating mucus.
So let me translate that: basically, the essential oils get absorbed from the suppository right into the veins in the abdomen, from which they go right to the heart and lungs, where you need them most. They don’t get processed by the liver, and arrive ready to do battle against bacteria and mucus.
After I read that, I thought to myself, I probably could have used this method back in December, when I was hacking up a lung (although, that was a sinus infection, so maybe not). Also, I did not necessarily have the items I needed on hand to “make my own suppositories” while staying at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. Speaking of which, Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt provides a method for making essential oil suppositories in his book (page 139), as does Jeanne Rose, in “375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols” (involves melting some fats like cocoa butter and sesame/olive oil in a double boiler, then adding essential oils, then cooling them in tubes of aluminum foil and putting them in the freezer).
If, for some reason, you are suffering from chronic or severe respiratory problems and you want to give these essential oil suppositories a go, you could try some of the anti-infectious essential oils that are good for the respiratory system. Eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme, and spike lavender spring to my mind in this category…Dr. Schnaubelt mentions Hyssop decumbens as another good possibility, but cautions against using Hyssop officinalis, which is toxic. (I have no experience with or knowledge of Hyssop decumbens, and have no idea where I would get some, so I will just leave it at that – as information that you can make use of or not).
Finally, as for the right ratio of essential oils to cocoa butter/oil mixture, he recommends 60 drops for adults (1o to 20 drops for children, depending upon age), for every 2/3 ounce of cocoa butter and 1/3 ounce of base oil. If anyone wants to share their experience with essential oil suppositories, or how to make them, or their favorite essential oil formulas for suppositories, please leave a comment!