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Medicines: their origin and forms

  1. Almost everyone uses medicines, but where do they actually come from? Pill, powder, tablet, dragee, what other forms of medicines are there and what is the exact difference between them.

The origin of medicines

  1. Before the Second World War, medicines mainly came from natural products. They came from plants that were often finely ground and given in combination with each other. Many of these resources were ineffective, but because they were given with religious rituals and ceremonies, they still had an effect. The so-called placebo effect. The medicinal properties of the active substances were known through tradition, found by chance that it helps and through targeted research into the functioning of the plant.

Drug Forming

  1. Powder The raw material or a combination of raw materials can be given directly to the patient in the form of a powder. In the preparation of a powder, a number of drugs are mixed and divided into a number of papers which are then folded by hand or by a powder folding machine. The disadvantage of this is that it is difficult to prepare small quantities, the solution for this is to add an auxiliary substance such as milk sugar. You then get a larger amount that is easier to divide into the correct amounts. The disadvantage of powders is that they distribute themselves over a large surface in the mouth and they thereby touch many taste buds. The solution to this is to administer the powder with some syrup.


  1. The former pill was a new development in the processing of a raw material. A few plant powders were taken which became sticky when wet, the medicine was put through this and the mass was rolled out into a stick. This rod was then cut into pieces and the pieces rolled around. The disadvantage of this preparation is that the pills were not all equally constant, sometimes too soft and then so hard that it did not disintegrate in the gastrointestinal tract. For this reason, the pills have been replaced by capsules, tablets, dragées and powders.

Tablet and dragee

  1. If you compress a powder mixture under a certain pressure (tableting), a tablet is formed. This is done in a machine, the determined amount of medicine is supplemented with various aids such as starch and talc. If the tablet has a sugar or lacquer layer, this is a dragee. The purpose of this is to camouflage the bad taste. If the dragee has a layer that does not dissolve in the stomach acid, this is called an enteric coated tablet. The purpose of this is that the medicine is not decomposed by the acid of the stomach or that the gastric mucosa is not affected. Tablets or capsules that release the drug at a controlled rate are called controlled release. As a result, the medicine has to be taken less often, such as painkillers.


  1. There are three types of liquids:


  1. Drops are solutions in which the drug is put in a highly concentrated form.

Infusion and injection solution

  1. Injections are used in small quantities, from 0.1 to a few milliliters. Infusions are given in larger quantities.

Ointment and cream

  1. Powders may also be needed on the skin. Loose powder does not just stick, so ointments and creams have been developed. With an ointment, the medicine is mixed with fat or oil. If the powder is 50% or more of the total weight of the ointment, it is a thick, stiff ointment. This is called a paste. A cream is a mixture of oil and water and an emulsifier containing the powder. After application, the water evaporates and the cream becomes invisible on the skin. This is cosmetically appealing.


  1. Is used for small amounts of a strong active agent. Preferably, the patch is stuck in a place where the skin is not too thick. The patch is effective for a longer period of time (24 hours), an advantage is that it has a long-lasting effect and it is easy to apply. The disadvantage is the risk of hypersensitivity.

Suppository, enema

  1. A suppository is a torpedo-shaped piece of fat of 1-3 grams. At body temperature this melts to release the medicine. It is administered rectally (through the anus). It has a local but also a systemic effect (throughout the body). Liquid rectal dosage forms are micro enemas and rectioles. These contain a few milliliters and have a systemic effect. Enemas are up to 150 milliliters and have local action only.

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