Reading medication ingredient lists on the RPAH or FAILSAFE diet.
Updated: Apr 8
Reading medication ingredients is over whelming but with practice you can easily pick up on any potential problem ingredients when following the RPAH (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) or FAILSAFE elimination diet.
How to find medication ingredient lists
Unlike foods, the ingredients for medications are usually not available on the medication bottle or packaging.
This information can be found in an accompanying pamphlets or often via the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) website.
This website link can be obtained here: TGA website- search for medication active and inactive ingredients.
When you are searching your medication or vitamin/mineral or health supplement: make sure you type in the EXACT name- TGA needs the exact spelling. If there is a space between words- make sure you include that.
Once you have searched your product- many different options may appear in the search results. Find the exact dosage and the matching company.
Click on the result best matching your criteria and then open up one of the attached documents. Scroll down to the bottom to seek other active ingredients as well as the inactive ingredients.
The active ingredient or ingredients (there can be more than one) is the ingredient causing the effect you want.
Let's use Panadol for example:
Say I am looking for this product:
Clicking on this will give you this next screen
Clicking on the document and scrolling to the end will give you the active ingredient information:
Just under the active ingredient information will be the inactive ingredient list (this is the list not available on the bottle/packet) and although inactive could be an issue for the RPAH diet.
Lets look at these separately:
Citric acid (in foods this may be labelled as citric acid or 330)
FLAVOUR: likely fruit flavoured for this product and thus high in salicylates and the dose like very very high to cover the bitter taste of the medication = the problem ingredient
Macrogol 400 = common excipient in medications
Methyl hydroxybenzoate - the give away term is BENZOATE- an artificial preservative often used in medications which is an additive we try to avoid on the RPAH diet
Propylhydroxybenzoate- BENZOATE again
Purified water- as the name suggests- is quite acceptable
Saccharin sodium- an artificial sweetener which is avoided as part of the additives avoided in the RPAH diet
Sodium chloride= common table salt and not an issue
Sodium citrate dehydrate- often used as an excipient or inactive ingredient
Babies who have an underlying food chemical sensitivity often react to this product and there are a few things they could be reacting to, the flavour used here being the most likely issue.
Watch out for names of artificial colours used in medications
More recently, I have noticed many artificial colours used in medications as part of the OPADRY SYSTEM used these days: and the following names seem to come up a lot..
- QUINOLINE YELLOW (TABLET WILL HAVE A YELLOW COLOUR)
- SUNSET YELLOW (TABLET WILL HAVE A YELLOW COLOUR)
- INDIGOTINE (BLUE COLOUR)
- INDIGO CARMINE (BLUE COLOUR)
There are other colour additives and names- see below - Medications seem to use the name rather than the number.
YELLOW: tartrazine, quinoline yellow, Sunset yellow FCF, Annatto extracts
RED: Azorubine, Carmoisine, Amaranth, Ponceau, Brilliant scarlet, Erthrosine, Allura red
BLUE: Indigotine, indigo-carmine, Brilliant blue FCF
GREEN: Green S, Acid brilliant green, Fast green FCF
BLACK: Brilliant black
Brown: Chocolate brown
If your medication includes these, if it is an important medication- don't stop. Talk to your pharmacist and see if the colour can be safely washed off or if there is an alternative or an alternative can be compounded if the chemist is a compounding chemist. Don't stop a prescribed medication without talking to your Medical Doctor, as it has been prescribed for a medical reason.
Other inactive ingredients to watch out for
Like reading food labels, watch out for any items coming from plants that could potentially contain salicylates.
These may be obvious because it is a herb or written as a genius species name. Look up the name to see if it is a botanical (ie comes from a plant)- may contain salicylates in particular.
The active ingredient also needs to be checked- some active ingredients may be herbs or maybe known to be high in amines such melatonin.
Note that all probiotics contain amine due to the fermentation process involved.
Get Familiar with Common Filler (Excipient) ingredients
The more you look at nutritional supplements and prescribed medications, the more you will become familiar with the common excipients and ones you may need to avoid.
I personally like to know what is in the food system and supplement that I choose to take, but if you have a food sensitivity, knowing these ingredients helps you make choices compatible with your or your baby's/child's sensitivity, particularly for over the counter medications and supplements.
Frances Walker, 14/3/22.