The Capsules you are swallowing in form of medicine is Vegetarian or Non Vegetarian Capsules?
In pharmaceutical manufacturing, a wide range of methods for dosage of medication has now erupted but the primary technique of using stable shells, known as capsule to fill in powdered, liquid or gel based medication has still remain undefeated. Capsules can be taken orally or used as suppositories (drug delivery through rectum) and therefore they are undoubtedly the most preferred and efficient method now available in the pharmacy.
Most capsules available in the market are of two distinct categories; gelatinous and vegetarian capsules. Out of which, gelatinous capsules are more popular. They are made of an animal derived substance known as gelatin. Gelatin is a foodstuff, derived from collagen which is obtained from animal by-products. They are high in non-essential amino acids are commonly obtained from domestic cattle, chicken, pigs, horses and fish.
Although gelatinous capsules are inexpensive and widely available, they have the potential risk of transmitting animal diseases and are hence unsafe. Individuals with traditional and religious restrictions to animal based food are also unable to consume such capsules. Also, these capsules are highly unpreffered for long term uses for the risk of being toxic.
For such cases, there is an alternative method also available known as vegetarian capsules. They are non-animal origin, made of natural and non-toxic cellulose based ingredients and are suitable for people who choose not to take capsules based on animal by-products. This provides for a larger consumer base and are also available in various colours and sizes. Vegetarian capsules have been proved to contain no preservatives, starch, wheat and they are made of only pure cellulose, derived from either pine or poplar.
They generally contain only two ingredients- HPMC (hydroxyproplylmethylcellulose, a chemical derived from vegetable cellulose) and water. They also dissolve quicker in the stomach and are easily digestible. They are vegetarian, vegan, kosher and halal safe. Gelatinous capsules cannot be used to fill gel based or liquid based medications whereas vegetarian capsules can be used for all.
Therefore, the major difference between gelatinous and vegetarian capsules lies in the ingredients. Despite being an animal based product and harmful in multiple ways, they are inexpensive and highly convenient for use. For the health concerned individuals or ones with religious restrictions, vegetarian capsules is a way to go.