What are Suppositories Made Of? All Options Explained
It’s time we talk about what suppositories are made of. And, I promise — this article will be more informative than anything else.
Why should we care about what suppositories are made of? Well, you’re a health conscious person. You’re in the know. If you’re going to take a suppository – you want to know how they are made, and what they are made from.
Suppositories are made from these two sources:
- Fat-Based Suppositories – An ideal fat-based suppository is firm at room temperature then melts into a non-irritating oil after insertion. The most common fatty suppository base is cocoa butter.
- Glycerin Suppositories – Glycerin is an organic compound derived from animal or vegetable fats. It’s a clear and odorless, liquid and room temperature. Gelatin comes from animal tissue and is a form of collagen. It adds a more solid structure to the glycerin for use in suppositories.
Check out this video for a deeper understanding:
A Closer Look at Suppository Supplementation
There are several different ways to take a drug or other therapy. Most commonly, we take medicine by mouth. It may be in the form of a pill, like a Tylenol™ when we have a headache, or a liquid antibiotic you may give your young child for an ear infection. Shots are a more painful, but effective means of delivering medicine or nutrients into your body.
Suppositories are just one of many ways to administer a drug or other substance.
Ok, sure, administering a suppository isn’t going to be the best part of your day. Whether your infant needs a pediatric suppository, or you need an adult suppository medication, administering a suppository is awkward at best.
However, our rear ends make for a very effective means of taking several different drugs, treatments and even supplements. And, at the end of the day, it all comes down to what works best, right?
But, what do you look for in a suppository?
First, what is a Suppository?
Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. What is a suppository?
A suppository is a treatment inserted into the body. Suppositories are most often placed into the rectum. But, they may also be inserted into the vagina or urethra. They may treat a condition at or near the area of insertion, like a vaginal suppository to treat a yeast infection. In other cases, the active ingredient carried by the suppository enters the bloodstream through the internal membrane and is carried to other areas of the body.
Ok, using a suppository may be something to explore. But, how do you know which suppository base to choose?
Choosing the Best Suppository
Like any other treatment, the best suppository is one that works for you. For any medicine to work, it has to get where it’s going (wink). It has to hold its shape while being handled before insertion. No one wants a suppository that melts or dissolves while we’re trying to get it safely and comfortably into its new home.
The takeaway? The best suppositories can be inserted quickly, easily and comfortably. That means the best suppositories start with the best base material. Click here to read our Complete 15 Step Guide of how to insert a suppository.
What Are the Best Suppositories Made From? 2 Options.
Most suppositories are either fat-based or glycerin-gelatin based. The best base material for a suppository is determined by three things:
- The properties of the active ingredient
- The location where the suppository will be inserted
- How the active ingredient needs to be released
1.) Fat-based Suppositories
An ideal fat-based suppository is firm at room temperature then melts into a non-irritating oil after insertion. The most common fatty suppository base is cocoa butter.
Cocoa butter, derived from cocoa beans, is used in lotions and cosmetics. The major downside of cocoa butter is a low melting point. In hotter climates (like here in southeast Texas), suppositories made from cocoa butter need to be refrigerated.
You can click here to see an example of a Fat-Based Suppository!
2.) Glycerin-gelatin Suppositories
Some of the most well-known and common suppositories are made from glycerin or or a mixture of glycerin, gelatin, and water. They do not melt, like fat-based suppositories. Rather, they draw water to them before dissolving and releasing their active ingredients.
Glycerin is an organic compound derived from animal or vegetable fats. It’s a clear and odorless, liquid and room temperature. Gelatin comes from animal tissue and is a form of collagen. It adds a more solid structure to the glycerin for use in suppositories.
Click Here to shop our premier Glycerin-based Suppositories!
What are the best suppository treatments? 5 Options.
That all depends on what you’re trying to treat. If you’re at work and have a routine headache, using an acetaminophen suppository may not be the best course of treatment. However, suppositories are the best, most effective treatment for other issues.
1.) Hemorrhoid Suppositories
Thank your lucky stars if you have avoided needing hemorrhoid treatment. Hemorrhoids are quite common, especially during pregnancy and after child birth. They are usually harmless, but can also be very (VERY!) uncomfortable.
A hemorrhoid is a swollen vein in the lowest part of the rectum and anus. The blood vessels can bulge and become irritated. Constipation, dehydration, strain and difficult bowel movements exacerbate these symptoms.
Hemorrhoids may be internal or external. Since the medication is quickly absorbed through the rectal tissue, suppositories are more often used to treat internal hemorrhoids.
The best hemorrhoid suppository will depend on your symptoms. There are three main types of medication in hemorrhoid suppositories:
- Vasoconstrictors that shrink blood vessels and reduce swelling
- Analgesics and anesthetics that helps reduce pain and discomfort
- Protective barriers that protect tissue from abrasive contact
Regardless of which medication you need, suppositories are the fastest way to relieve the pain and discomfort from hemorrhoids.
2.) Laxative Suppositories
If you have ever suffered from severe constipation, you know how miserable it can be. If you’ve cared for an infant or small child with constipation, you’ve probably encountered laxative suppositories.
Constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movements that may be painful or difficult, and often goes along with hard stools. It’s not a condition you want to experience if you can avoid it!
Common causes of constipation include a diet too low in fiber and not consuming enough water. Lack of exercise can also cause constipation. It may also be caused by more serious conditions such as narrowing or blockage in the large intestine or diseases of the colon. Many medications such as antidepressants or narcotic pain relievers cause constipation. No matter the cause, laxative suppositories are a constipation treatment to consider.
The two most common laxative suppositories are stimulant laxatives and emollient laxatives:
- Stimulant laxative suppositories work quickly by inducing muscle contractions in the intestines. They should only be used occasionally and for a very short term. Bisacodyl suppositories are one example of a stimulant laxative. Other stimulant laxatives include aloe, cascara and senna.
- Emollient laxative suppositories are also called stool softeners. They work by adding moisture to the stool. Docusate is the active ingredient is most emollient laxatives.
Most emollient laxatives are better at preventing, rather than treating constipation. That is, except in the case of glycerin suppositories. Glycerin suppositories draw water into the intestines. This helps to soften stool and produce a bowel movement.
3.) Suppositories for Pain Relief
Until researching for this article, I didn’t know about pain relief suppositories. One example, Voltarol, helps relieve musculoskeletal pain from arthritis, gout or injury.
Why would you consider a suppository for pain? Well, that depends. If you’ve ever suffered from serious or chronic pain you know two things. One, you have to treat the pain fast. Once pain becomes severe, medication is less effective. Two, a suppository is a small price to pay for relief when something really (really) hurts.
But, suppository pain relief isn’t limited to prescriptions. CBD (cannabidiol), a chemical derived from the marijuana plant, helps treat anxiety, insomnia and different kinds of pain. Unfortunately, CBD degrades in the GI tract, lowering the bioavailability and effectiveness.
CBD suppositories address that issue by bypassing the digestive system. CBD suppositories are available for vaginal and rectal use. They can help relieve pain from menstrual cramps and other pelvic pain. CBD suppositories also help reduce the symptoms of sciatica, a common nerve-based pain that affects millions of adults.
4.) Suppositories for Infants and Children
Small humans can put up a serious fight when you’re trying to wrestle ibuprofen into them to lower a fever. My son would spit out even the sweetest grape flavored liquid with the voracity of a velociraptor. When he was sick as a baby, I welcomed suppositories to ease his (and my) discomfort.
Pediatric suppositories are available for many medications, both over-the-counter and by prescription. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be administered by suppository to lower fever and reduce pain. Promethazine (Phenergan) reduces nausea and vomiting when a child can’t (or won’t) take an oral medication. And, pediatric laxative suppositories are available in most grocery and drug stores.
5.) Nutritional Supplement Suppositories
A major drawback to oral supplements is low bioavailability. Many important nutrients are degraded in the stomach to such an extent that only a small fraction of the dose is ultimately available for our bodies to use. One way to combat that is to bypass the digestive system altogether and use a suppository.
A quick search will lead you to suppository forms of a variety of common supplements such as green tea, tea tree, probiotics, glutathione, hemp oil and curcumin to name just a few. As we learn more about supplementing our diets with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients we’ll no doubt see more and more available as suppositories.
What is the best suppository? The one that works for you.
Maybe I’ve convinced you that suppositories are worth considering. Maybe not. It probably comes down to your health situation and what you may need a suppository for.
Regardless, when you’re ready to consider a suppository treatment, you want to know what you’re using is the best available. I hope I’ve helped at least introduce you to what makes the best suppositories.
Whether you’re treating an acute issue or supplementing your diet, suppositories are a viable (and effective!) option to consider.
Click Here to Shop our Suppository Store!
Thank you for taking the time to read this article!
Your success is our passion. If you have any questions or contributions, please contact us via email or phone-call. We are constantly looking for new information to promote wellness – and hearing from you would make our day! Feel free to reach out to our free Health and Wellness Consultation headed by our Certified Health Consultant, Kurt LaCapruccia, D.S.S. (Diploma in Dietary Supplement Science).
Live Vibrantly! – DR Vitamin Solutions