How To Make Your Own Capsules
Hard capsules are one of the most preferred methods of administering oral dosage forms of pharmaceuticals. They are also widely used in the health supplement industry, which is booming in two areas.
The first type are vitamin and herbal supplements that offer relief from common ailments. These include:
- Sources of omega-3 oils and glucosamines for relief of joint pains, arthritis and promote general joint health. Examples of such sources are krill oil, calamari and other fish oils.
- Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D supplements for healthy joints and bones
- Products for improved brain power such as ginko –biloba
- Vitamin C for boosting the immune system and probiotics for healthy bowels
- Energy boosting products such as Co-enzyme Q10
- Mineral supplements such as potassium, zinc, selenium and magnesium
Such products are to be found in the aisles of supermarkets as well as health food shops and pharmacists. Most of these supplements available in commercially have established benefits that are backed up by peer-reviewed research, although occasionally the claims made for some products can be questionable.
The second group are sports supplements that specifically target individuals who wish to build or tone muscles, lose weight, and/or increase metabolism. Unlike the first group which are usually single products or, in the case of ‘multivitamins’ well-defined mixtures, sports supplements are usually mixtures of different enzymes, amino acids and energy boosters (sugars). The problem is that no two individuals are the same and therefore it virtually impossible to manufacture that universal magic pill that is tailored to the individual needs. The sports supplement industry focuses on achieving product purity which leads to high costs, and the user can find the whole selection of products to suit his or her personal needs quite perplexing.
There is also a certain amount of mystery associated with the development of supplements. Labelling packages with all of the proteins encased in a particular supplement may often add to the confusion associated with sports supplements. There is also a perception that supplement companies are large organizations backed with teams of white-coated chemists, producing formulas that are subject to rigorous scientific testing. In fact, the supplement industry, unlike the pharmaceutical industry, is not well regulated and the production of supplements and filling of capsules is not at all difficult. The process of filling hard capsules is one that can be carried out at home, delivering products at a fraction of the cost of store-bought mixtures. Indeed many sports supplement suppliers are small home-based companies that purchase raw supplement powders in bulk, package them in capsules, and then target their marketing to appeal to the sports, fitness and health-conscious individual.
It only requires a small investment to purchase in a manual desktop capsule filling machine. Together with some basic measuring utensils and equipment, this is all that is needed to make supplement capsules in the kitchen at home.
Benefits of filling your own capsules
Homemade products can be much more affordable than store bought supplements and vitamins. All you need are empty hard capsules made of gelatin or vegan friendly substitute, a capsule machine and the herbs, vitamins or raw supplements that you wish to add to the mix.
Capsules, when sealed, protect the user from any bitterness of the encased ingredients. One of the main advantages of capsules is that they enable the user to take the herbs and other ingredients in their raw natural state, without any unpleasant taste that may be associated with the formulations. Taking the powder or herbs in their natural state is a much more effective and an efficient way of getting all the benefits without the side effects.
For example, organic turmeric powder has a bitter flavour which many find unpalatable in high concentrations. This is unfortunate as it has been shown to be effective in improving digestion, reducing inflammation, improving skin condition and/or reducing joint pain. Turmeric is a native spice of India and Indonesia and has been used for thousands of years for its health benefits. Bulk organic turmeric powder can be purchased for around $40 per kg, which is enough to make 1000 x 1g capsules. Contrast this with store-bought capsules that are retailed at $18 for 60 x 1000 mg tablets. The mark-up between such raw material and capsule is 750%, making the process of filling your own capsules a very attractive proposition. It is certainly not difficult to make your own capsules, and will become easier with a little practice. It may well end up being a fun activity that also gives personal satisfaction knowing that you can make the products yourself.
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Basics guide to capsule filling
- Gelatin Capsules, HPMC Capsules or Pullulan Capsules
- Manual Capsule Filler
- Encapsulation Excipients
- Active Ingredient
Suggestions for Ingredients:
Below are some suggestions for supplement ingredients. There is a wealth of information available online for other supplements.
Elderberries. These berries are high in antioxidants, which are said to help protect against cell damage caused by stress, poor eating habits as well as environmental toxins. Elderberries are rich in amino acids, Vitamins A, B, C, carotenoids, calcium, flavonoids, iron, and riboflavin.
Bee Pollen. This is rich in amino acids, protein and other vitamins and minerals. The granules are claimed to help people with asthma, depression and even treat allergies.
Wheatgrass. This contains essential amino acids as well as being a natural protein source. Wheatgrass is claimed to boost energy levels, improve complexion, reduce facial lines and lower blood pressure.
Celery seed powder. Celery is an excellent source of antioxidants and beneficial enzymes as well as vitamins and minerals such as vitamins K, C and B6, potassium and folate. Celery also contains a compound called 3-n-butylphthalide that has been reported to have lipid-lowering action. Research suggests that celery has many other beneficial compounds. The seeds appear beneficial in being able to reduce blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, reduce inflammation, help prevent ulcers, boost digestion/reducing bloating, and help to improve liver health.
The method of using a manual capsule filler is very simple, as follows:
- Open the empty capsules and place the lower halves (the ‘body’) in the holes of the bottom plate of the filler. Often capsule fillers have spacers that are inserted between the base plate and the plate with holes into which the capsules are fitted. These need to be set so that the lower body of each capsule is flush with the top of the plate that holds the capsule bodies.
- Pour the liquid or powder into the body of each capsule, ensuring an even distribution of powder using a spreader plate.
- Take out the spacers and gently tap the plate with holes downwards so that each of the capsule bodies protrudes from the top of the plate.
- Place the top half (‘cap’) of each capsule onto the lower half but do not press down firmly until all are in place. Once all the tops are in place, they can be pressed down gently (often a click is heard when they are all completely fitted.
- If the machine has an upper plate into which caps can be loaded, fit these into the upper plate, and then flip the plate over and align it with the bottom plate, ensuring that all capsules halves are perfectly aligned.
- Press the top plate firmly to secure the top of each capsule with the corresponding lower half.