When things start to feel out-of-balance “down there,” it’s easy to feel embarrassed or concerned. With symptoms such as vaginal discharge, odor, or itching, it can be hard to know how to work with it and find equilibrium in your ecology or tissue states. There is an herbal option! Different varieties of herbal suppositories have been used for hundreds of years to address both vaginal and rectal complaints (Romm, 2010).
Why Make Herbal Suppositories?
Also known as pessaries, herbal suppositories can be a useful way to apply herbs internally for vaginal and anal complaints. If you’re wondering why you would opt for herbal suppositories over other herbal preparations, it’s because suppositories are solid when inserted and then gradually dissolve—allowing the herbs and oils to stay in contact with the tissues for a longer period of time. This can increase effectiveness and absorption compared to other herbal preparations like simple infused oils.
Choosing Your Ingredients and Herbs
Now that we have highlighted some of the benefits of using suppositories, let’s look into the different herbs and ingredients from which you can choose in order to make your own. Since suppositories are inserted into areas of the body with sensitive tissues and delicate ecology, it’s wise to keep the ingredients as simple and organic as possible so as not to cause irritation of sensitive tissues.
Oils and Butters
Herbal suppositories are designed to melt once inserted, so favoring softer oils and butters that melt easily when heated is preferred. Coconut oil, olive oil, and cocoa/cacao butter are some of the most commonly used oils and butters when making herbal suppositories since they are all food-grade and easily melt when warmed or solidify when chilled. Additionally, all of these oils and butters have tissue-soothing, moistening, and inflammatory-modulating qualities that can lend additional support depending on the issue at hand.
Certain essential oils can provide added benefits for specific issues, especially when combined with herbal powders, oils, and butters. However, some folks find that using essential oils on the more sensitive tissues of the vagina and anus can cause further irritation, even when properly diluted in a suppository formula. Direct contact of essential oils with a mucous membrane is considered internal use, which requires more advanced training than is available at the Herbal Academy and should only be conducted under the supervision of a medical professional or aromatherapist trained in the internal use of essential oils. Children under 6 and pregnant women should not use essential oils internally.
Basic Herbal Suppository Recipe
¼ cup cocoa butter ¼ cup coconut oil 1 tablespoon infused Calendula officinalis olive oil or coconut oil 2 tablespoons powdered dried herb(s) of your choice (can be a combination of different herbs or one singular herb; reference the section on “powdered herbs” above for guidance in selecting)
Combine the cocoa butter and coconut oil in a small saucepan. Melt over medium heat and stir to combine. Turn off the heat source.
Add the calendula-infused oil and powdered herb(s) of your choice to the saucepan while the cocoa butter and coconut oil are still melted. Stir well to combine.
Pour the suppository mixture into clean suppository molds. Refrigerate the suppositories until they are firm. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use. If stored properly, suppositories will typically last at least several months.
To use, insert suppositories vaginally or rectally as needed. Dosing guidelines will vary depending on the purpose of the suppositories. Note that since suppositories will melt once inserted, wearing some kind of protective pad or layer in the underwear is advised to protect your clothing. Suppositories are commonly applied before laying down to sleep since lying horizontally gives the suppositories more time to absorb without dripping out.