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They include a mixture of active ingredients and excipients in the form of pressed powders. The excipients may include diluents, binders or granulation agents, glidants (which help with swallowing) and lubricants; sweeteners or aromas to improve the taste, and pigments to make the tablets visually distinguishable. A polymeric coating is often applied to make the tablet easier to swallow, to control the speed of release of the active ingredient and to make it more resistant to the environment or to improve the appearance of the tablet. About two-thirds of all pharmaceutical prescriptions are dispensed as solid dosage forms, tablets and capsules, in equal parts. The tablets are often printed with symbols, letters and numbers, which allow them to be identified even once they are unpacked. In addition, the tablets can be identified by means of the codes printed or printed on them, which lead back to free consultation lists, or through consultation with the pharmacist who, through the appearance and the imprinted code, is able to determine what type of drug it is.
The sizes of the tablets to be swallowed range from a few millimeters to about one centimeter. Medicinal tablets and capsules are often commonly called pills. However, the pills are ancient dosage forms prepared by rolling a soft tablet while pressing.
Furthermore, from ancient times, making herbal tablets is a good way to use herbs that have a very bitter or unpleasant taste, therefore not suitable for use in infusion or other forms that bring them into contact with the taste buds. Tablets and capsules are generally more convenient to store, to transport and to store, also guaranteeing a higher level of hygiene and greater ease of use.
Even today, in the world of herbal medicine solid tablet dosage is used, both for external applications with gradual and specific release, as for a small trauma, a sprain, etc., and for taking products. Following a few simple steps you can also create pre-dosed tablets at home to use medicinal herbs and other herbal elements. It is recommended to carefully evaluate the dosage of the products, because even an apparently harmless herb can cause some discomfort, if taken in large quantities. The advice is to try to re-create the tablets whose dosage tolerance is well known and not to overdo the home intake.
How to make tablets
To obtain capsules or herbal tablets for use at home, take the fresh herbal leaves of your choice (in adequate quantities, remembering that the volume will be reduced even tenfold), and wash them well to remove any foreign bodies . Dry very well on absorbent paper, then dry in the sun or in an oven set at 40 ° C unventilated. The leaves will turn brown once they have dried; at this point it may be necessary to cut the thicker and leathery stems, depending on the plant being used. Using a mortar and pestle, a blender, a coffee grinder, or any other type of device around you, grind the leaves into a fine powder, adding them a little at a time, until they are all ground. After that, you will need empty capsules that you can buy at the pharmacy, perhaps after ordering, or in food supplement / herbalist stores. Each capsule can be filled by hand with the aid of a perfectly dry syringe deprived of the needle, which will pour the product into the largest part of the capsule, pressing it as much as possible, or using a small machine sold just for this purpose. This requires some practice, so the first capsule may not be perfect. A tip to give, in these cases, is surely to use disposable latex gloves to prevent the capsules from sticking to the fingers and to open all the capsules just before filling them, so that they can be filled in series.
If you want to create small homemade tablets, the procedure is almost the same. Once the herbs are reduced to powder, add drops of water, one at a time, to create a very dense and dry mixture. The mass must be consistent and not crumble too much, but dry and compact. Once you find the right dough, make small balls, as big as the tablet you want to create. It is advisable to create flat tablets with well-rounded edges to make them easier to swallow. Once the small tablet has been created, the cornstarch must be passed through until it is well covered. Remove it from the starch, shake it a little to remove the excess and put it to dry in a place protected from bumps and dust. Unlike industrial tablets, these tablets will be very dry and could cause some discomfort. The advice is to make the tablets very small, perhaps calculating to be able to take two or three, and take them with plenty of water. A great way to avoid too dry tablets would be to use food-grade cocoa butter; rub the dry tablet on a piece of cocoa butter and keep in the fridge.
The pharmaceutical tablets, on the other hand, can have an unpleasant taste despite industrial treatments, especially those of some antibiotics which, in addition to being of significant size, tend to immediately release the taste of the product on the tongue. To overcome this inconvenience, you can always use the cocoa butter food system, or cooking butter which, by eliminating friction, allows the tablet to be swallowed faster. Especially for older children and youngsters, the cocoa butter solution seems to be very effective. Eventually, if the tablet is too large, you can use a “tablet cutter”, an inexpensive device that can be found in the pharmacy and allows you to divide a tablet that is too large into two or four to be able to take it as fragmented.
Tablets with special coatings (eg enteric coatings or controlled release coatings) should never be broken before use, so as not to expose the tablet core to digestive juices, invalidating the expected delayed release of the active ingredient.
Also in the pharmacy and in herbalist's shops, there are also special wafers that are used slightly wet, to wrap the tablet and swallow it more easily.