Yes, navel. Which is a bit novel.
In the medical marijuana world, where people are taking oil for treatments of various kinds, the ‘belly button’ method of administering doses comes up fairly regularly. This involves putting a dose worth of FECO (full extract cannabis oil), neat or diluted with a carrier oil, into the navel and leaving it there to be absorbed. The idea is that the oil is absorbed quickly and completely, and it goes directly into the blood stream rather than having to pass through the intestine and liver first. Hmm.
I’ve been slightly skeptical of the belly button method of administration, in large part because of people going a bit crazy and mystical about ‘pathways to the brain’, which so often goes along with an absence of critical analysis. I decided to see if there was sound science (in addition to anecdotal reports) to support this. It turns out that wow, this really is not just a viable method of drug administration, it can approximate the bioavailability of intravenous drug administration! Colour me informed, surprised and VERY intrigued. 😄
Here’s a snippet of an old medical research journal article that outlines this:
Let me highlight the key point even more clearly, because it is rather an eye-opener! Absorbing a drug through one’s navel is almost as effective as being injected, and significantly more effective than regular transdermal patches:
The systematic bioavailability … by navel absorption is relatively close to the level obtained by the intravenous administration of an equivalent dose.https://www.sciencedirect.com/sdfe/pdf/download/eid/1-s2.0-S0022354915449755/first-page-pdf
Okay, this is from a trial looking at a preparation of testosterone in acetone, not cannabinoids in oil, but the difference seems to be irrelevant. This provides a measure of scientific backing for the claims I’ve been reading from ‘belly button dosers’ about their experiences.
When taking FECO by swallowing it (neat or diluted) it is processed by the liver before making it fully into the blood stream. This makes effects take a little longer to appear, and it also can increase the ‘high’ effects of THC. That’s because part of the liver’s processing turns a portion of regular THC into a more potent form; some of the regular delta-9-THC is converted to 11-OH-THC, which is “three to seven times more potent” in its psychoactive actions, according to studies.
When taking FECO in a way that is absorbed more directly into the bloodstream – sublingually (under the tongue) or through the navel – the liver plays less of a ‘first act’ role in processing the cannabinoids, so the high will feel less for a given amount of oil. This is good news for those who find that a bit off-putting – although remember the key word is ‘less’ rather than ‘nonexistent.’
So how on earth do you do it?
It’s actually really simple. Put a dose (such as a few drops of FECO mixed with a carrier oil) into your navel, then cover it with a bit of adhesive plastic to stop it dripping out. Cut a bit from a roll of window protection film or something similar if you don’t have easy access to wound covers. Don’t use fabric or perforated bandaids as they’ll leak. Seal the oil in and leave it to be absorbed. If you do this at night it’ll be all done by morning. Remember to clean it out properly.
ADDENDUM: I am explicitly not talking about the so-called pechoti method here. That Ayurvedic concept claims the existence of a ‘pechoti gland’ located behind the belly button – yet such a thing is not known to medical science. Let me be as clear as crystal here: I do NOT believe in the existence of a part of the human body that has not been found in centuries of medical investigation. It’s also worth noting that transdermal dosing normally requires a carrier to help the drug in question make it through the various epidermis and dermis layers, something that’s not quite as simple as many believe. What’s interesting is the possibility that the belly button could perhaps be an easier ‘in’ for substances. There are many people who take substances including cannabis oil in this manner and say it works. We’re lacking absolute documented demonstrations of the efficacy of this, but I do still think this is a very interesting concept.
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This is truly fascinating. We’d been skeptical as well, but I had this feeling that wouldn’t go away. Thank you for finding and sharing the obscure medical writings. I have a group at 420 Magazine digging deeper into this idea at the moment. You’ve been more than helpful in our search. 🤗
I’m very glad it was helpful! Once whatever you’re researching is done, if you have time, please drop me a note here; I’d love to read it.
but this is about the bioavailability of testosterone, and not the FECO. can this two be the same? I mean the bioavailability of FECO by navel is similar to testosterone?
You’re right to query this, but one answer is, I’m afraid, ‘more research needed.’ However, I don’t think there’s anything specifically special about testosterone in the cited research, at least in terms of bioavailability. The point to keep in mind is that it was ‘a relatively faster absorption and also greater systemic bioavailability’ – absorption through the navel was better than through the traditional forearm location.
Whether FECO (neat, diluted in oil, or in an alcohol tincture) is able to cross the dermal barriers is something that needs specific research to establish at a sound science-based level. I hope as legal barriers to cannabis research are removed this is something that is done soon.
I just found your very interesting post from last February. Since then has anyone compared the psychoactive results of their own FECO when administered orally and via Navel ? Also I wondered if a carrier like DMSO could be used with FECO?
Hi David – I’m not aware of any new comparisons or studies for this, although that doesn’t mean they don’t exist! If (or rather when, I hope) I find some I’ll add those here. I wouldn’t be a particularly good test subject myself; my tolerance has become quite high so psychoactive effects are relatively minor.
DMSO is an interesting suggestion. It is sometimes said to be good for fighting cancer itself, although I could find no reliable evidence to support that. But the interesting aspect is that it is known to help substances be absorbed more effectively through the skin – to the point where people are advised to wash hands and skin well before using to prevent absorbing random substances!
There are some concerns about DMSO causing problems including upset stomach, skin irritation and burning, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, and even possible nerve, eye and/or liver damage. It also increases the effectiveness of blood thinners, sedatives and steroids. The FDA says it is medically useful for treating interstitial cystitis (and nothing else, so far). Despite that it is available over the counter, but it should be used with care. Keep notes so you can identify and chart possible symptoms.
This was a great article but I found the following paragraph a little disturbing.
“ADDENDUM: I am explicitly not talking about the so-called pechoti method here. That Ayurvedic concept claims the existence of a ‘pechoti gland’ located behind the belly button – yet such a thing is not known to medical science. Let me be as clear as crystal here: I do NOT believe in the existence of a part of the human body that has not been found in centuries of medical investigation“
Haven’t we just discovered that the mesentery is in fact an organ?
Are we not only just learning about what a vital role the gut microbiota plays to our health?
Not so long ago the Earth was flat!
My point. We are always learning.
It is naive to believe that we have already discovered all there is to be discovered, and quite often the ancient knowledge is correct, just sadly lost over time.
You are absolutely right that we’re always learning. The mesentery is a very interesting example; it was only recognized as a distinct ‘thing’ in 2012, previously being understood as more of a fragmented collection of different parts. But this is more a difference in how we describe and reference these parts, which have been known for thousands of years and were formally (classically) anatomically described in 1885. The ‘petochi gland’ has no such basis in physical evidence. The effects people ascribe to that seem to have some basis in reality, although we do need formal tests. But the existence of the petochi gland itself has no evidence – even with the kind of electron microscope work that discovered the subtle truth about the mesentery.
(Weirdly, there are more people today who believe the world is flat than at any other point in human history. The ancient Greeks knew the world was round, as did Copernicus’s critics; what they disagreed with was him saying that the Earth orbited the Sun rather than being the center of the universe.)
I use essential oils for different medicinal reasons. There is one blend that I use for indigestion. I would rub it on my stomach when I had indigestion and it would help calm things down. When I heard about the Belly button method I decided to try that. I put a couple of drops of the oil into my belly button and i found it worked much quicker and I actually was burping up the taste of the essential oil! This makes me think it gets absorbed more quickly into the body via the belly button and perhaps more efficiently. 🤷♀️