Vegetable Capsules Toxicity

4 min read

Vegetable Capsules Toxicity

Vegetarian capsules sound like a healthy option that are made from 'vegetables'. The reality is they are not vegetable-based at all, but rather are just not made from animals. They are not as natural as the supplement manufacturers would like you to believe. Unfortunately, they are actually made from a substance known as Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose (HPMC) which is closer to the structure of paper made products than to a consumable plant.

Wikipedia describes Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose as:

Hypromellose, short for hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), is a semisynthetic, inert, viscoelastic polymer used as an ophthalmic lubricant, as well as an excipient and controlled-delivery component in oral medicaments, found in a variety of commercial products. As a food additive, hypromellose is an emulsifier, thickening and suspending agent, and an alternative to animal gelatin.

Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose does start out from cellulose, which comes from plants. However, cellulose is completely indigestible by humans. Altering cellulose to include the other ingredients does not help with that, therefore making them completely indigestible. It is a semi-synthetic substance and not a natural substance at all.

This composition can cause stomach discomfort, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. If you have ever felt digestive issues when taking certain supplements, veggie caps may be to blame.

Gelatin capsules on the other hand, are more easily digestible because they are made from collagen which our bodies have the ability to digest and absorb. 

Furthermore, there is a questionable 'carcinogenic lubricant' by-product in veggie caps that does not even have to be listed. 

Below is an excerpt from the conversation between our Chief Medicine Man, Man Found Standing, and a manufacturer of vegetarian capsules. It is another reason why we have decided against using Vegetarian capsules for our products.

When I first decided to look at encapsulating supplements, I contacted a vegetable capsule manufacturer to see about purchasing bulk quantities of capsules directly from them.  I spoke with a representative from the vegetable capsule manufacturing company.  I explained my mission to provide the best overall health supplements in the industry and wanted to provide daily nutritional support to my customers. 

After I explained to him that I was creating products that our customers would take everyday for the rest of their lives I said, “So we want to use the vegetable capsules so we have the healthiest capsule for our products.”

The company representative responded, “You don’t want to use the veggie capsules then.”

​I replied, “Yes, we do.  I want the most cost effective, healthiest capsule available.”

To this he stated, “Veggie capsules are not the healthiest.”

Somewhat confused I responded, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!” 

The gentleman then proceeded to explain why vegetable capsules are not good for everyday use.  He told me that they use a “carcinogenic lubricant” in the manufacturing process.  Since the harmful cancer causing lubricant was not an ingredient, but just a by-product in the manufacturing process, they “legally” did not have to list it as an ingredient. 

He continued to explain that microscopic traces of this lubricant were left on the capsule and that if a person was using veggie capsules daily for a long period of time, the carcinogenic chemicals would build up in the body and cause some serious side effects!

After his explanation I said, “Well, can I get this in writing?”

To which he replied, “No, and I don’t even know why I’m telling you this!”

I then thanked him for his assistance and explained that I would have to go with another capsule manufacture representative because we did not want trace amounts of harmful substances on our capsules.

To this the representative explained how there were only a handful of vegetable capsule manufacturers in the United States and they are all manufacturing the capsules the same way.  He stated, “You probably won’t get another company to admit they are using the lubricant, but we are all using it because we have to in order to make the capsules.”  

His best suggestion for the most cost effective alternative was to encapsulate in 100% Bovine Gelatin Capsules.  So until a cost effective healthy alternative exists, I only use the bovine gelatin capsules instead of the potentially harmful vegetable capsules.  


What You Can Do

If you would like to avoid veggie caps in your supplements, here are a few suggestions:

  • If your supplement is in a veggie cap, you can disassemble the capsule and add the contents into a glass of water.
  • Purchase powders instead of capsules if available
  • Purchase softgels which are usually made from gelatin
  • Purchase liquid extracts
  • Avoid purchasing supplements made from vegetarian capsules but opt for bovine gelatin capsules instead.


About the Authors:

Paul 'Man Found Standing', Medicine Man

Raised in a family who always turned to herbal remedies for their health needs, Paul's love for natural remedies began at an early age.  In 1996, he became very involved in the alternative health industry, specifically essential oils. After becoming disheartened by the lack of integrity in the products of the companies he worked for, he spent the next decade creating his own products that focused on superior quality. In 2003, he became a Native American Medicine Man to not only protect his own God given health freedoms, but to also assist others in taking charge of their own health. 

Paul has a great love for sharing wisdom, natural remedies, and assisting others.


Bitter & Spice

Our focus is on natural products and practices that bring you the greatest overall health benefits. We believe nature has provided us with everything we need to thrive at every age. And, by combining ancient wisdom and modern scientific research, we can all succeed to achieve a better life and a better world.