We all know that no medication is truly ‘vegan’. In the UK, medications have to be tested on animals, by law, before they can be given to humans. So nothing drug-based that we take for our health will ever be vegan in the true sense of the word. But wouldn’t it be nice to know that you didn’t have to ingest animal-derived products too?
I’m currently doing a lot of research to find out if there are medications which contain no animal products, and I will keep you updated on my findings (it is looking good). But I thought I’d start with something simple, and frequently used by many people – pain relief. There are lots options for non-drug pain relief (heat packs, cold compresses, complementary therapies) but I wanted to write specifically about medicines.
I had a thought last week which I wanted to share with you. The biggest culprits which make medication non-‘vegan’ are lactose and gelatine. Lactose is a sugar which is derived from milk, and usually makes up the bulk of tablets. Gelatine is a protein based substance made from skin, bones and connective tissue of animals and is used in the casing of capsules, often as an alternative to the traditional tablet. Obviously, neither of these is suitable for a vegan diet. So I wondered, is there a simple way in which vegans can take pain killing medication without needing to also ingest these common animal products? I came up with the idea of taking liquid medication instead.
Anybody who has children will be very familiar with the liquid forms of these medications – particularly paracetamol, often sold as Calpol, and ibuprofen, often sold as Nurofen for children. I don’t specifically recommend these brands, but their names are often used interchangeably with the generic medication name. However, many pharmacies and supermarkets make their own cheaper versions. I looked through the ingredients lists of both liquid paracetamol and ibuprofen, and couldn’t see any animal products! So why not adjust the dose so that it works for you, as a vegan adult? The recommended doses on the bottles are for children, but it would be easy to work out an equivalent dose. For example:
- A paracetamol tablet/capsule contains 500mg of the drug
- Six plus paracetamol liquid (the stronger of the two available formulations) contains 250mg per 5ml of liquid
- Therefore 10ml of liquid would contain the same amount of paracetamol as 1 tablet
- A standard ibuprofen tablet contains 200mg of the drug
- Liquid ibuprofen for children contains 100mg per 5ml of liquid
- So again, 10ml of liquid would contain the same amount of ibuprofen as 1 tablet
Good news, right?
If you have any difficulty in working out the doses, I’m sure your local pharmacist will help you if you explain that you need to take the liquid instead of tablets.
I am still working on finding vegan versions of medications, but you’ll have to be patient as there are a lot of medications and pharmaceutical companies to work through! But I will keep you updated as I go.
Thanks for reading,
The Vegan Doctor