What’s in your medications or supplements? Most products, whether medical or nutritional supplements, have what are known as “excipients” or “fillers”. These may be added to hold the active ingredients or give a pill its shape or simply be added for volume. They include everything except the active ingredients.
Pharmaceutical excipients – where do we begin?
Excipients have been defined in many ways, including as inert substances used as vehicles and diluents for drugs. The problem with this definition is that in recent years excipients have proved to be anything but inert, not only possessing the ability to react with other ingredients in the formulation, but also to cause adverse and hypersensitivity reactions in patients. These range from a mild rash to a potentially life-threatening reaction. Different brands of the same drug may contain different excipients, especially preservatives and colourants. The Consumer Medicines Information provides a list of excipients, and information on the safety of individual excipients can be found in drug reference guides.
Thousands of different excipients are used in medicines and make up, on average, about 90% of each product. They represent a market value of €3 billion (almost $4 billion) accounting for 0.5% of the total pharmaceutical market according to industry experts. Read more.
Unfortunately, not all manufacturers disclose all excipients so ask your practitioner if in doubt.
You may have noticed that I often refer to quality “practitioner-only” products. This is because products that disclose ALL of their ingredients and contain active components at a truly therapeutic level are only available through a registered qualified natural health practitioner. So it makes sense to consult such a qualified person in order to be certain that you:
- receive what is best for you (not your friend or relative)
- receive the best possible product available
- receive qualified advice
- avoid taking something where the excipients may actually be a barrier to effective treatment or trigger allergies
- know what you are taking is safe and complimentary to any prescribed medications you are taking
- getting Australian TGA approved products.
For this reason also, it is unwise to self-prescribe and purchase over the counter products, order on line or purchase from multi-level marketing sales representatives.
To find a qualified registered practitioner in your State, go to www.atms.com.au or check with your private health provider.