What is magnesium stearate

tidijaApril 22, 2005

I used to take red raspberry pills (during menstruation with heavier bleeding), and it helped me.

Before, those pills ingredients were :red raspberry, gelatin..

But now, contains; red raspberry, magnesium stearate...

Could someone explain, what is magnesium stearate ???


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It's the magnesium salt of stearic acid ... usually of a vegetable source, it holds the pills together.

Here is a link that might be useful: info

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 10:11AM
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DigginDanny(z5 NY Catskills)

Just to confirm what lazygardens posted...

Mag stearate is indeed used as a binder in tablet formulation. I worked in pharma production for a couple of years, almost every tablet blend had a certain percentage of mag stearate added to enhance tablet compression/binding.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 12:50PM
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by Ron Schmid, N.D., 2003

Magnesium stearate, stearic acid and calcium stearate, made by hydrogenating cottonseed or palm oil, are used throughout the supplements industry as lubricants. They are added to the raw materials in supplements so that production machinery will run at maximum speeds. These fatty substances coat every particle of the nutrients, so the particles will flow rapidly. This ensures that production schedules will meet profit targets.

Cottonseed oil has the highest content of pesticide residues of all commercial oils; cotton crops are heavily sprayed. In the hydrogenation process, the oil is subjected to high heat and pressure in the presence of a metal catalyst for several hours, creating a hydrogenated saturated fat. Hydrogenated vegetable fats contain altered molecules derived from fatty acids that may be toxic. The metal catalyst used in the hydrogenation process may also contaminate the stearates produced (see Erasmus, Fats and Oils).

While toxicity is one problem, decreased absorption is another. In a study published in the journal Pharmaceutical Technology, the percent dissolution for capsules after 20 minutes in solution went from 90% without stearates to 25% with stearates (article available from us upon request). This delays the absorption of nutrients. Individuals with impaired digestion may have particular difficulty absorbing nutrients coated with stearates.

Another problem with stearates: concentrated doses of stearic acid suppress the action of T-cells, a key component of the immune system. The article "Molecular basis for the immunosuppressive action of stearic acid on T cells" appeared in the journal Immumology in 1990.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 12:15PM
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While it's interesting to see an alt med advocate (in this case a naturopath) being alarmist about supposed "toxicity" in supplements, his argument has no more validity than when it's used to raise fears of "toxins" in pharmaceutical products.

What's lost on people like this is the principle that "the dose makes the poison".

There are lots of substances that can cause harm in excess (including, for example, water and table salt) but are innocuous or even beneficial in smaller amounts. The tiny amounts of stearates that wind up in pills of all sorts have not been shown to be a health hazard, either from "suppressing the action of T-cells" or by other means.

The claim that stearate binders in pills may dramatically decrease "absorption of nutrients" is a mistaken idea that apparently stems from confusion about the difference between capsules dissolving "in solution" (as opposed to being digested in the human body).

Whenever you hear supposed health advocates going on about "toxins" in everyday life or proposing ways to "detoxify" ourselves, a red flag should go up, as they probably have no idea what they're talking about.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 7:39PM
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My understanding is that most magnesium stearate is from beef - might be a problem if a person is a vegetarian, but otherwise, not an issue to me. I do not understand how cotton seed oil could be 'hydrogenated' to get stearic acid - if that oil contained stearic acid it could be extracted, but hydrogenation would not convert non-stearic acid to stearic acid. There isn't much stearic acid in cotton seed oil to start with, so it would not make sense to use that as a starting material.

Reducing the initial breakdown speed of a tablet might not be good if you need a fast acting preparat, but magnesium stearate could actually increase absorption in the 10-30 hours that it takes for something to pass through the GI tract. It depends on whether something is more soluble in fats or in water.

I agree with what Eric said about the T-cell suppressing effects of stearic acid - it might be significant if eating several cheeseburgers every day, not likely to be significant if taking a small amount in a multivitamin or a few raspberry pills, as you mentioned.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 7:17PM
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My husband is plaqued with migraine and says that magnesium stearate will trigger a migraine. Just about every supplement or vitamin has that in it. However,if it is labeled with just magnesium, is that totally different?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 6:41PM
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Magnesium has shown some value in preventing migraines and other neurovascular headaches - when taken in larger doses for longer periods.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 1:52PM
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I am allergic to soy. It gives me a terrible headache. Is vegetable magnesium stearate only made from palm or cottonseed oil? Is it ever made from soy? When I take my vitamins containing vegetable magnesium stearate or magnesium stearate I get a terrible headache.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:54AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

If thats the case it is something else besides the magstearate that is doing it.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 5:23PM
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If you also incidentally take in some MSG (monosodium glutamate) you may well get a headache - it's in a lot of stuff these days, originally being only (or mostly) in Chinese food, but now adopted by lots of others.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 9:42PM
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This is from the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for magnesium stearate at the www.sciencelab.com website:

Chronic Effects on Humans: May cause damage to the following organs: liver, skin.
Other Toxic Effects on Humans: Hazardous in case of ingestion.
Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of inhalation.

I don't think the folks who prepare the MSDS info are naturopaths.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 10:24PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

I think any form of magnesium will damage your kidneys in high enough doses. When ever you have an ionic compound its important to remember that typically its the ions themselves that do the work, and that the pair really doesn't stretch past solubility issues.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 2:26AM
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Rather than hype the non-dangers of the minute amount of magnesiums stearate in pills, we should be worrying about the ubiquitous chemical dihydrogen monoxide, present in high concentrations in our fresh fruits, vegetables and beverages.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 8:21AM
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If I ingest any magnesium stearate I get a migraine headache. Also anything with magnesium stearate, magnesium and calcium will give me a migraine. So no milk products of any kind and no supplements with magnesium of any kind and no calcium.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 2:27PM
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The best people to know how harmful mag. stearate is - are the people that get bad reactions from it. No one else can say otherwise, as it dosn't affect them. Only these opinions are valid. It's no good people saying "how safe it is" etc. etc. - if it dosn't affect them - how can they know how awful it is for tons of people who it does affect.... They don't.
It;s like people who can eat peanuts, saying that anaphalitic shock dosn't happen to those who peanuts affect.
I am allergic to most medications and a lot of supplements, I mean severely. Now all of those contain mag. stearate, that's the one thing they have in common.
I stop the medication.... I am fine.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 2:43AM
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Amazing that fears about such a common and widely recognized as safe substance (used as a granulating agent to prevent clumping of the constituents of pills) continue.

I wonder if the people who are convinced it's "toxic" and think they're avoiding it by not taking pills, realize that beyond its use in a vast number of supplements and medications, it's added to many food products, including ketchup and syrups. Or that everyone's body contains magnesium and stearic acid, which occur naturally and function in normal metabolism. Stearic acid is a fatty acid naturally occurring in lots of things that we eat (including poultry, fish, eggs, butter and grains).

This source* has a good overview of magnesium stearate and why it doesn't make sense to view it as a "toxin".

"Much of this mis-information (about magnesium stearate) is posted by companies who are trying to differentiate themselves from other vitamin companies by providing products that are free of mag stearate, perhaps because they are not able to compete solely on the actual effectiveness of their products. If anyone tells you magnesium stearate in the extremely small amounts found in capsules is harmful, challenge them to provide you with a human study that proves their point -- they will not be able to. For some consumers this whole issue has become almost a psychological obsession going way beyond any logical reasoning. Some people regularly eat a piece of pie, cookie, or other sweet or junk food, or consume chocolate (which has tons of stearic acid) without any concerns, but get all worked up about insignificant amounts of MS found in supplement capsules. It defies logic."

*while his information on magnesium stearate is good, the link to Sahelian's site shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of the products he promotes or all his views on alternative medicine.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 1:32PM
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Magnesium and stearic acid is not the same thing as magnesium stearate, as much as solid non ionic sodium and gaseous chlorine is not table salt. Everyones body reacts differently to different chemicals, if you believe magnesium stearate is the cause of problems than avoid. Just because research says it's safe, it doesn't mean it applies to all it only applies to most.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 11:46PM
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I don't know that the table salt example is a good one, seeing that the elements that make up salt are volatile and potentially harmful ones that become stable and harmless* when combined. To my knowledge, magnesium and stearic acid in the body interact with other substances as part of normal metabolism. There's no evidence to support the idea that magnesium stearate is a harmful combination.

"Everyones body reacts differently to different chemicals"

This is a common exaggeration, but we're not as unique as all that. Even the proposition that a tiny minority of people have an idiosyncratic negative response to a common substance needs to be supported by evidence.

*what also gets lost in discussions of this kind is the concept of "the dose makes the poison"; in other words minute amounts of a substance (for instance, the magnesiums stearate used in pills) are unlikely to cause problems whereas large amounts might prove toxic in testing. Table salt is a good example - small amounts are fine, large doses can kill you. The people who generate scare stories about "toxins" never seem to grasp this fact.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 9:47AM
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The posting below that quoted a Ron Schmid, a naturopath who says stearates (there is only a minor amount in a Vitamin C tablet) work to suppress the immune system is irrelevant.

We should not forget that vitamin C boosts our immune system.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 6:04PM
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The point of taking supplements is to increase health. If something is not benefiting us, why take it, even if it is regarded as safe. How many toxic things are sold to us as safe? Most supplements are worthless. We need to get our minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals from our food, and our supplements should be from organic, whole foods, if possible. I returned supplements that contained this, not because they told me to, but because my intuition told me to. Put what you want into your body. It is a matter of principle too: we should put our money into companies that strive for the highest standards, not companies that are just trying to make money by putting fillers into health products and engaging in questionable production methods. We should know what we are eating and where it came from. I now take whole food supplements only, and they are expensive, but I take fewer because I eat well. Magnesium Stearate is what they make chalk out of; I will pass, thank you. Question everything and you will lose nothing!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 9:15PM
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"Magnesium Stearate is what they make chalk out of; I will pass, thank you."

And water is used to make pesticides. Follow W.C. Fields' advice - drink whiskey. :)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 8:44AM
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I found this by accident googling stearate migraine it's the only thing unnatural in my mints' ingredients. Now, this stearate is NOT magnesium but there are many kinds of stearates. I believe it's term used to describe the chemical compisition of a material in this case calcium. The process used to make this preservative is what's alarming.

Cane Sugar, Organic Green Tea Extract, Peppermint oil, Honey Granuales, Tumeric, Red Cabbage Extract (for color), Calcium Stearate, Stearic Acid.

It triggers an INSTANT migraine. My first time taking it iwas a block from home and had to pull off th side of the road my head was so *tight* I thought it would explode. A neighbor had to take me home. Nitrates of any kind have the same effect. And, decaf coffee doesn't trigger a migraine but will make me very ill. My husband works at a large coffee supplier and says in re. to coffee it's likely an allergic reaction to the process used when making the decaf coffee. They use very strong chemicals to extract the caffeine. I wonder if it's the same thing with stearates...
Not everyone is adversely affected by the chemical used in foods. I've heard it estimated that only around 25-30 percent of the population is affected. Regardless, there is something harmful when heating up cotton (heavily fertiziled) and using in foods. When making a reduction sauce in the kitchen you increase the flavors by heating and reducing. In cotton, when you heat to reduce you are only concentrating those fertilizers. It's common sense.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 12:33PM
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I am astounded by the apparently widespread human paternalism that leads people to insistently want to determine what other people will consume. Has anyone here heard of bioindividuality? Some people have reactions to magnesium stearate, that is clear. So why insist that it is harmless? What do you stand to lose if some well-meaning supplement company wishes to formulate products so that a suffering minority can benefit from wellness formulas too? Just feel blessed that you do not have these sensitivity reactions, because it is incredibly hard to find a remedy that doesn't provoke intolerable symptoms. This is a hell that more and more people are struggling with these days, ie the trend is an upswing of sensitivity issues. So it only makes sense that we rally to support hypo-allergenic options such as excipient-free supplements. I am a consumer not a business interest, and I can tell you that my well-being is on the line here. And, most manufactured foods also contain triggers, so the point about ketchup isn't really saying much. Please, just open your eyes and understand that some people have it harder than you can possibly imagine. Have a little sympathy and thank your lucky stars it's not you. Otherwise, you come off as a fascist who is getting all bunched up because there are people who just won't comply with some kind of prescribed programme or something. I mean, who cares if mag stearate is not in EVERY pill? What is the meaning of freedom? Am I missing something here?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 2:03PM
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No Internet discussion is complete without charges of "fascist!" being flung about, so we should be grateful for that.

As for the migraine thing, there probably is not a single substance or physical property that has not at one time or another been blamed for triggering migraine headaches. It's worth noting though (as mentioned previously) that magnesium supplements have been reported to decrease migraine frequency in some people.

There remains no evidence that magnesium stearate as a pill binder has any toxic properties to justify the alarmist warnings propagated about it, many of which come from supplement dealers eager to profit from selling non-mag. stearate-containing pills that are no different from the others, except for maybe being more expensive.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 6:46PM
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Wow, I have this problem too.
While I don't think name-calling is productive, I have to otherwise agree with Sensitive Nancy.

I don't understand why any independent person would be passionate about defending magnesium stearate. I mean, it's just a crummy pill-conditioner, there logically are many ways to make a pill whether you want to lube it to speed production or not.

Eric, why are you so doggedly trying to put a benign face on magnesium stearate? Yes, it IS benign for some people. And yes, some people can't take it without feeling crummy. Some will take it and fare just fine; Others legitimately have to look for alternatives that have less problematic ingredients.

Alternatives need to exist for those people, so why slam the companies making them? It's not correct to say they are no different from the magnesium stearate versions, because those formula differences are truly critical for a vast *minority* of people. The well-being of this sensitive minority depends on being able to find companies who understand the need to provide something else. It is quite fair in a free market for those companies to receive the business of the consumers who think they are providing superior products. I don't believe they are putting anything over on anyone, they're simply providing options. No, I'm not a spokesperson either, I just am forced to do a lot of product hunting due to my ridiculous level of sensitivity, and I worship those companies that can provide me with something that actually helps me feel better not worse.

And, finally, perhaps people like me are the canaries in the coal mine. You have to wonder why some people are reacting to the stuff. It is up to each consumer to decide what they feel comfortable putting in their bodies.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 1:57AM
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"Eric, why are you so doggedly trying to put a benign face on magnesium stearate? "

As others in this thread (and quoted sources online) who are anything but Big Pharma advocates have said, there's no evidence to support the bogeyman claims made against magnesium stearate. The alarmism is based on illogical fears (and in some cases, a marketing ploy by supplement companies). Having access to a better quality pill without clumping problems, and refuting bogus claims are reasons enough to post factual information* on this subject.

The article linked to at the end of this post takes a revealing look at a health scare in New Zealand when a popular drug (thyroxine, for low thyroid conditions) was reformulated, resulting in the pills having a different color, markings and taste (but having the exact same amount of active ingredient as the old pills). Reports of adverse reactions jumped, fed by sensationalist media reporting and false Internet forum/chat room rumors. The company manufacturing the pills was forced to provide other sources of the drug (an expense paid for by all of its customers) until the scare died down. Eventually most of the people who'd abandoned the new pill went back to it and the adverse reports declined to about the former rate.

The moral of this story, as with mag. stearate, is that people can be buffaloed into believing bad information. If this results in higher costs for the rest of us and poorer quality pharmaceuticals and supplements, that's not a good thing.

*speaking of which, who is this "vast minority" who supposedly can't take pills containing magnesium stearate? How many actually exist, and where's the actual evidence of negative physiologic reactions?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 9:16PM
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Anyone else out there willing to step up and give a statement about their magnesium stearate sensitivity?

I'm the only one I know personally with this problem, although I see evidence of others here on this thread.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 12:36AM
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I am a doctor and when given the choice between a supplement that contains magnesium stearate and one that does not, all other things being equal, I choose the pure supplement(the one without the machine lube)

Case in point: A pharmacy in my city has a very good Cranberry product that I recommend to my patients.

I like this product because the ingredients are just cranberry powder and the gelatin capsule.

Recently I went to this pharmacy to look for this product for someone and, mixed in with the usual product, I noticed some bottles contained magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide. I am not sure why and I hope that this trend will not continue, otherwise I will be forced to search for another product!

Needless to say, I chose the ones that were without these ingredients. (ALWAYS CHECK THE LABEL)

I am paying for cranberry powder, not for machine lube. There is quite a bit more cranberry powder in the bottle without the magnesium stearate. According to the label, the product was equivalent to 25,000 mg of cranberry fruit, vs. only 17,000 for the product containing the flow agents and machine lube(silicon dioxide and magnesium stearate) This is almost 50% more of the actual product that I wanted to buy for the same price! And since cranberry powder(not magnesium stearate) helps my patients, I rightly purchased the product that contained more cranberry rather than the one crowded out by the offending contaminant.

This quote makes me laugh, especially the little jab at the end: 'Much of this mis-information (about magnesium stearate) is posted by companies who are trying to differentiate themselves from other vitamin companies by providing products that are free of mag stearate, perhaps because they are not able to compete solely on the actual effectiveness of their products.'

This silly argument absolutely reeks of industry influence. Since it is cheaper and easier to make products that contain magnesium stearate, there is nothing wrong with a company making a product without it and educating consumers about that distinction. If all other things are equal, you wind up with a purer, more potent, higher quality product when the machine lube does not end up competing with the limited space of the capsule. This applies to any herb or supplement.

By principle, choose the pure product! Buyer beware!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 1:17AM
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Magnesium stearate is not "machine lube"; it's used as an anti-clumping ingredient to help assure uniform pills.

"I rightly purchased the product that contained more cranberry rather than the one crowded out by the offending contaminant."

Magnesium stearate is used in such tiny quantities that there's no way it's "crowding out" active ingredients. As I'm sure you know, supplements vary widely in the amount of active ingredients they offer. This has nothing to do with magnesium stearate or other minute quantities of inactive substances in the product.

It's a lot easier to dismiss facts one can't answer with claims of "industry influence" than to provide evidence backing supplement company claims of detrimental health effects of magnesium stearate (and the last I checked, supplement selling is a multibillion dollar industry in the U.S. alone).

By the way, a quick check on Google shows the e-mail address given by the last poster belongs to an individual who appears to be a chiropractor in Illinois. If that's you, Steven, it'd be more accurate to refer to yourself as such instead of a "doctor".

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:16AM
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I stand by what I previously wrote:

1) All things being equal, a product without mag. ster. is better than one that contains it because there is more of what you are actually buying. My example was for a cranberry product. The company that I used for the example reformulated the product to no longer contain mag. ster. (Thank goodness!)
The capsules mass was the same 500mg. When the mag ster was removed there was 50% more cranberry than when it was present(no more crowding out)

I wish that I could be more specific, but garden web has very strict rules about mentioning products. (I don't want to be accused of advertising)

2) Cranberry (or whatever herb I am purchasing) helps my patients, but mag. stear. does not! You claim it is safe, but do you claim that it has the same beneficial properties as the herb that I am seeking?? If I needed cranberry, I would like to get as much cranberry as possible. It is nice to know that the product does not have other additives that do not contribute to my health.

3) When I recommend a product, I want as many variables out of the way as possible. Eliminating magnesium stearate, is one less variable!

4) Due to the anti-advertising rules I was reluctant to mention my business, but since you opened that door(thank you for that by the way), yes I am a Doctor of Chiropractic in Illinois. I am very proud of this. You may call me Dr. Sciame.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 1:45PM
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To "Dr Truth" a.k.a. Steven:

It still doesn't make sense that a tiny amount of an anti-clumping in a pill "crowds out" other ingredients. The product you formerly were using just had less cranberry in it than the current one. As I mentioned, this kind of variability is common in supplements. Here's an example of a product for which testing found that the active ingredient in a capsule could vary 100-fold.

I don't care much about whether magnesium stearate or miniscule amounts of any other inert substances are present in pills, as long as I get a consistent quality product that doesn't deteriorate in my medicine cabinet. It seems to me that fearmongering about magnesium stearate has gotten to a ridiculous point, but if anyone can document realistic health concerns I'm open to new evidence.

Thanks for clarifying that you're a chiropractor. In regard to your first post in which you called yourself a doctor, most people take that to mean a physician and assume a certain level of qualifications. I've seen lots of Internet posts, letters to the editor of newspapers etc. where people call themselves doctors and it turns out that they're chiropractors, homeopaths or whatever. If they're truly proud of their work, it's surprising that they're not more up front about it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 4:11PM
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My experiences with magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide over the years have shown it to be a real "no brainer" for me; I simply cannot digest any supplement that contains these ingredients. After taking them, I feel as if I have swallowed a brick that won't go down, followed by feeling slightly queasy and sweaty for a few hours, then very weak for a couple of days. I now only take liquid supplements derived from whole-food, organic, bio-available ingredients.

I avoid anything that is "analogous" and concocted in a lab. This includes Vit. D. Recently, y doc tried to prescribe a synthetic (which I'm sure worked fine for most of his patients), but I refused it and found a liquid made from whole foods. That's what works for me.

That said, I am going to go a step further and opine that I do not believe that manufacturing expediences such as magnesium stearate or silicon dioxide are doing any favors for anyone else - they are simply less reactive to them...for now. I don't think these chemicals go through your gut in 10 hours or so, like normal foods. They probably hang around and accumulate in your liver and bloodstream and interfere, over the long run, with basic biochemical processes of your body. The first poster commented on cottonseed oils and how rancid, toxic and altered they are. Most people take a lot of pills - be they pharmaceuticals or supplements. These chemicals can really add up in the body, over the course of a month or years. And though stearic acid and magnesium stearate are both naturally occurring in our bodies, their behavior may be quite different when manufactured and ingested.

Researchers have found jet fuel in the blood of newborns, mother's milk and just about everyone else, throughout the US. It's most likely source is drinking water. I'm not being alarmist; my point is that we have to be aware of our modern environment and stay alert and exercise a sensible amount of precaution - just 60 years ago doctors were recommending that women smoke while pregnant to calm themselves down.

Additionally, talk to a plumber about the number one thing that backs up a home septic system and they will tell you that it is vitamin pills. Americans have the most expensive pee and poop in the world. Why? Because we take all this mulit-vitamin crap and think that we are doing a favor for our bodies. With all the enteric coatings, absurdly non-bioavailable combinations of cheap synthetic vitamins, in a pill filled with cullulose and magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, etc. these things pass right through us almost completely undigested. And they clog up not only our internal plumbing, but the building's plumbing. Did you know that taking these pills actually majorly interferes with the digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food we eat? The action of these sorts of vitamins is almost entirely due to placebo effect. If they worked, Americans wouldn't test out as severely nutrient deficient as they currently do. Ask your doc for a comprehensive test for, say, Vit. D levels in your blood and you'll find out for yourself. Multi-vitamins are best sellers and most of us are as conscientious about taking them as we are about brushing our teeth. And tableted multi-vitamins are the worst sort of crap - all of them, even in the health food store. It's all marketing. That's why I stick with organic, food-based liquids and why they are becoming increasingly popular alternatives.

Lastly, about tests. Most of these are conducted at the behest of large manufacturing concerns and not only are the tests skewed to provide the desired results, findings not consistent with those results are routinely thrown out until they get what they are looking for. Then these are published in medical journals. By JAMA's own confession, (under pressure from the US government) it is estimated that three quarters of all scientific medical studies are either worthless, flawed in methodology or simply misleading due to this problem. (Maybe JAMA should stop accepting $100K in exchange for looking the other way when publishing so many of their "studies". But the practice continues.)

Since I haven't got unlimited time to sort all this out, I take the easiest and most logical approach in my case and avoid anything that isn't organic and free of fillers, binders, preservatives and the like. I eat locally produced organic food and grass-fed, free-range beef. And, despite my serious immunological weaknesses, I drink organic, raw milk and colostrum for it's digestibility and immune boosting properties - no RBEST and no altered molecules of protein.

Do balanced, scientific studies support all my choices? Perhaps - perhaps not yet. I happen to think that letting my body speak to me and listening to it is one of the most sensible things one can do. As someone who has always been sickly and frail with impaired digestion, I have been getting better over the long run and experiencing more stamina with my regimens. I'm 50 and look 30, with 10% body fat, a perfectly toned physique and flawless skin and hair, and bright, clear, gleaming eyes. The approach I have taken to achieve this might draw scoffs from some skeptics, but I ask them - do you look like this at my age (I'm female, by the way)? The results speak for themselves. I am the canary in the coal mine. I hope someone out there is listening to me, because what you don't know CAN kill you - just very, very slowly.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 1:43PM
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" I do not believe that manufacturing expediences such as magnesium stearate or silicon dioxide...go through your gut in 10 hours or so, like normal foods. Most people take a lot of pills - be they pharmaceuticals or supplements. These chemicals can really add up in the body, over the course of a month or years."

This sounds like the standard line about "toxins" - hobgoblins that are supposedly present in our bodies if we don't "cleanse" - but which don't exist.

If there is any evidence for the claims made by the preceding poster (vitamins in pills don't get absorbed by the body, vitamin pills are the "number one" thing clogging up septic systems, Americans are "severely nutrient deficient", etc.) it'd be nice to see it. These are typical claims seen on a myriad of alt med and supplement seller websites, presented as gospel and repeated endlessly without foundation.

The problem with multivitamins and most supplements in general is not the excipients/fillers they contain, but the supposed "active" substances in them - which we generally do not need when eating a healthy or even average diet, and which potentially could be harmful in excessive amounts. It's not the magnesium stearate you should be concerned about, but overloading on fat-soluble vitamins or other supplements, whether or not they are made by pharmaceutical companies or hand-harvested by monks in flowing robes.

"The approach I have taken to achieve this might draw scoffs from some skeptics, but I ask them - do you look like this at my age (I'm female, by the way)? The results speak for themselves."

Look like what? Could you hold up that photo again? ;)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 8:17PM
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riceloft(5b / NE Ohio)

The worst thing I've heard about magnesium stearate is that it isn't a form of magnesium that the body can easily utilize. Too much of it can actually cause it to run through your system quite fast...and not pleasantly :).

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 1:08PM
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Magnesium stearate is also added to baby formula. And we all know about babies and diapers. Cause and effect?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 4:34PM
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Eric you really are big on this in here over and over! You can say this and that about it but one person had a point when they said powder is better with less fillers! Why do I want a filler in there when I can get a powder or just powder in a gel cap? MORE PRODUCT the better right?

Does the additive in there effect the bioavailability as well? Just another question.

I see some in here sensitive to fillers as I have been in the past as well, I prefer the powder to stir in a tea or just powder and a cap with no fillers! Straight herb (Mostly Organic) and nothing else.

Some people are really sensitive to things as they said, you can't tell them otherwise because it is you and you only who can tell how you feel after consuming something.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 4:10PM
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"You can say this and that about it but one person had a point when they said powder is better with less fillers! Why do I want a filler in there when I can get a powder or just powder in a gel cap? MORE PRODUCT the better right?"

You make it sound as though magnesium stearate is the bulk of what's in a pill, when it's actually a tiny amount of a compound used for a specific purpose, that doesn't affect dosage or bioavailability. As another poster commented (second post, 6 years ago):

"It's the magnesium salt of stearic acid ... usually of a vegetable source, it holds the pills together."

No big deal. If people want to convince themselves that they have a horrific reaction to it, they can take something else. All I'm interested in is correcting the misinformation being spread here and around the Internet, which could eventually result in poorer quality pills on the market and/or higher prices (again, see the link Anatomy of a health scare).

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 9:01PM
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I didnt know what magnesuim stearate is. I notice just about every vitamins contain it. I am the type of person who observe the effect of everything I ate or take in my body. I notice whenever I take vitamins that has MS change my looks. I get puffy eyes and I look older. Not ever knowing the fact what MS is, I decided to stop taking anything that contains it. Only today I became curious to know what MS; I read the posts and I am happy to know the fact. I thank God for guiding me to the right decision.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 4:37PM
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Magnesium Stearate is added strictly for the convenience of the producers and manufacturers of these capsules and formulations.

It is in No way nutritious or added because it is somehow good for humans to consume. It is added for the sake of the machinery, and so the machinery that the herbal powders flow upon, do not get gummed up and stuck.
With the advent of such miraculous additives, we have to hire less people to clean the machines because they flow so much better.

Now what was the reason you bought the product in the first place?
You probably did not go out looking to buy Magnesium Stearate, but there it is, added to our health supplements.

I just get the herbs whole, powder myself and add to water. Or there are ways to make your own capsules in small batches by hand using encapsulation contraptions made of plastic, and you just buy empty capsules of your choice and fill them up.

Avoid this additive and all others additives.

We can no longer accept that these conveniences which were invented for machinery, are allowable to feed to humans.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 5:29AM
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"Now what was the reason you bought the product in the first place?"

Well, because I mostly don't have the time or expertise to make my own vitamin or herbal products, and know that if I tried, the resulting preparations would vary widely in dosage and quality.

Not that supplement companies are always so rigorous about making a reliable, standardized product, but if I had to choose between what someone whipped up "naturally" in their kitchen and a commercial product made to good manufacturing specifications, I'd go with the latter.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 9:13AM
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I instinctively started searching and using products without the magnesium stearate additive. I simply thought of it as a filler. Today I decided to research what it factually is. I appreciate hearing the experiences of many. I have also been educated as to the components and purpose of this ingredient. My findings support my initial perception and that is that this ingredient has no useful purpose as a supplement to my regimen. Each to his own. Let the decision be yours. Thank you for the information.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 2:36PM
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I have been studying this debate extensively and find the most important piece of the argument for the toxicity of magnesium stearate not mentioned in this thread. Magnesium stearate is highly processed. Steric acid, a fatty substance, is hydrogenated and then bound to magnesium under very high temperatures and pressures.

The science is undisputed that hydrogenated (and partially hydrogenated fats) are BAD. Heating fats to very high temperatures is BAD and creates free radicals. Hydrogentated fats stiffen cells walls and weaken immunity because the cell cannot excrete and take in nutrients.

One researcher defends magnesium stearate saying that the quantity of ingestion is so small that 10 pills a day is equivalent to eating 1/2 a donut a year. Um, he is comparing magnesium stearate to a DONUT. Donuts are detrimental to health. Undisputed. Others, again, extend this argument about quantity. But we now know that we all have hundreds, if not thousand of chemicals in our bloodstreams in this modern age. Why would we want to knowingly add another brick to the cart? Some medication/chemicals are in the most minisule molecule doses with big impacts. Subtleties matter.

Our sensitives in our communities, our canaries in the coal mine, are sounding an alarm bell. They have sensitive systems that are honest and the body is telling us to stop using unnatural, manipulated, toxic ingredients. What is this doing to the lining of our guts, to our digestion, our immunity, or longevity? We need to be wise as a whole and stop gambling with the unknown acting as if we know all the answers. Nature knows best. Stick with her!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 12:29PM
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"The science is undisputed that hydrogenated (and partially hydrogenated fats) are BAD. Heating fats to very high temperatures is BAD and creates free radicals. Hydrogentated fats stiffen cells walls and weaken immunity because the cell cannot excrete and take in nutrients."

ALL CAPS are SCARY. However, condemning "hydrogentated" fats for allegedly damaging immunity does not make sense. For instance, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (found in purslane and other herbs) contains a whole bunch of hydrogen atoms (its formula is CH3(CH2CH=CH)3(CH2)7COOH, where H stands for hydrogen). Cooking oils containing fats with less hydrogen may in some circumstances be better for us. But stearic acid/stearate is naturally found in our bodies and forms a part of normal metabolism. Combining it with magnesium (also normal, and essential for metabolism) does not suddenly make the resulting product (magnesium stearate) foreign and toxic. The "science" is not "undisputed" that magnesium stearate in supplement pills harms immunity, because science does not demonstrate any such thing.

"One researcher defends magnesium stearate saying that the quantity of ingestion is so small that 10 pills a day is equivalent to eating 1/2 a donut a year. Um, he is comparing magnesium stearate to a DONUT. Donuts are detrimental to health."

Assuming what this researcher supposedly said is true, we are supposed to be galvanized into panic at the thought of heavy supplement users adding the equivalent of half a donut a year (in stearate?) to their diets? Come on.

"Others, again, extend this argument about quantity. But we now know that we all have hundreds, if not thousand of chemicals in our bloodstreams in this modern age. Why would we want to knowingly add another brick to the cart?"

Another "brick"? Scary metaphor. But the assumption that a minute amount of magnesium stearate in a supplement pill has some dramatic cumulative effect has no evidentiary basis. And the poster is unable or unwilling to grasp the concept that 1) our bodies (and natural foods and supplements including herbs) are loaded with chemicals, and toxicity of any one of them is dependent on dose. If you ate a ton of stearates every day (by consuming loads of animal or vegetable fats many times in excess of our normal diet), it wouldn't be good for you, just like eating several hundred donuts a day wouldn't be good for you). Generalizing from that to claim that half a donut consumed over the course of a year contains horrific toxins that will upset the applecart and poison the canaries in the coal mine etc. etc. does not make for a believable argument.

Unfortunately, what the "sensitives" of our communities are susceptible to is false advertising and scare tactics by certain supplement marketers and people who proclaim doom from nonexistent "toxins".

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 9:57PM
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I'm surprised to read that some gardeners are having trouble digesting anything containing silicon dioxide... after all, your garden is loaded with it despite your best efforts to amend the soil, and it's often stuck to your vegetables even after scrubbing them. In fact, you might have unwittingly added it to the soil yourself....

Silicon dioxide is better known as "sand".

And it does the same thing for pill manufacturing that it does for soil: it keeps other stuff from sticking together and forming lumps. If you have lumps in a batch of pills, some will have lots of the active ingredient (maybe an overdose) and others will have none. That would be way worse for you than ingesting the equivalent of a few grains of sand... probably less than is stuck to that nice healthy carrot.

And eating a little sand may be good for you:

A study which followed subjects for 15 years found that higher levels of silica in water appeared to decrease the risk of dementia. The study found that with an increase of 10 milligram-per-day of the intake of silica in drinking water, the risk of dementia dropped by 11%.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 1:36AM
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Hi, my name is Joseph Buchignani. I'm sensitive to Magnesium Stearate in pill form.

I understand Eric's position perfectly. I do not like him, but I understand him.

He knows less than he thinks he does. He has failed to absorb the next paradigm, and is stuck in the evidence based medicine paradigm. This makes everything he says simultaneously true, boring, predictable and wrong. He will continue beating his ideological drum as long as anyone is listening.

Since I am just now reading about Magnesium Stearate for the first time, I find Eric's facts useful - they are likely accurate. Nevertheless, I reject his worldview.

Evidence based medicine likes to favorably compare itself to homeopathy and other forms of evidence-free medicine, but it is far more reluctant to examine its own flaws. Seth Roberts discusses some of these flaws. I won't go into them here.

The new paradigm embraces all that was good about evidence based medicine, while recognizing its limitations and inherent flaws. It also incorporates self-experimentation, paleo paradigms, and acknowledgment of individual genetic and clinical variation.

Next, I'd like to describe my sensitivity to Magnesium Stearate. It is part of a far larger range of sensitivities I developed after a course of Accutane. I believe I have intrahepatic cholestasis as a result of this. I am unable to digest fat, and must eat a diet of lean meat and rice. Besides these two ingredients, there is almost nothing that I can safely eat.

I already knew I couldn't eat capsules filled with oil. So I acquired a variety of liver and gut targeting supplements that did not contain oil. Unfortunately I was unaware that magnesium stearate is also fat.

I took Accutane 8 years ago. I only recently figured out that Accutane had caused my condition, and that I had intrahepatic cholestasis - a common reaction to liver-stressing drug intake. During the last 8 years, I have noticed adverse reactions to pills before. But I am only now exploring the fat angle, and learning the correct "why" behind things.

(Please simply posit that Accutane did in fact cause my condition, and that it is as described. I fully understand reader skepticism, but I do not wish to provide full explanations on either point. And please be aware that giving me advice such as "you should see a doctor" implies you think my IQ is south of 60.)

Two days ago I ingested one tablet containing magnesium stearate. Then I stopped, since I was already suspicious of magnesium stearate from prior experiences. But this was a pill targeting the liver, TUDCA to be specific, so I had hopes.

Unfortunately, a reaction cycle started like clockwork. It will last about 4 days. It is light to medium severity for me.

It may seem strange that such a small amount of stearic acid (fat) can cause a negative reaction. After all, I presumably eat stearic acid in the meat I consume. However, a solid tablet offers a particularly concentrated and durable dose of fat that will probably survive the trip to the intestines in sufficient localized concentration to trigger irritation.

I have no reason to posit special toxicity for Magnesium Stearate in my particular case; it appears to be a normal reaction to eating fat. If I understand correctly, long chain fatty acids like stearic acid are the most difficult for people lacking bile to digest.

Out of the six different supplements I acquired, two do not have some form of oil or stearic acid. I will switch to using those, and hope they increase my capacity to digest fat enough so that I can take the others in a week or two.

Anyway, there's a data point for MS sensitivity. Thanks to those who posted for educating me on this subject, including Eric.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 8:45AM
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Leaving aside the gratuitous personal attack, it doesn't make sense that 1) consuming a diet rich in stearates doesn't cause problems (stearic acid is commonly found in animal and vegetable fats and oils), but 2) consuming a tiny amount of stearate in a pill is toxic.

There is no "particularly concentrated and durable dose of fat" in a supplement pill.

I'm not sure what we're supposed to substitute for "the evidence based medicine paradigm". I feel uneasy trusting my health to the "let's make it up as we go along" paradigm or the "my woo can't be measured by your science" paradigm.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 4:29PM
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Personal criticism is not gratuitous if it is justified and germane to the discussion, Eric. If I criticized your hobbies or family members, that would be gratuitous.

Your use of scare quotes around "evidence based medicine" indicates you don't even know your own position, which puts you at a distinct disadvantage when attempting to defend it against a competent critic. I refer you to an Amazon search for "evidence based medicine". (URL omitted to comply with forum rules)

To state the obvious, the set of "evidence based medicine" is a subset of "medicine based on evidence". If you are still having trouble, I suggest looking up the word "evidence."

Also, it is amusing to hear you claim that it "doesn't make sense" that tablet (not capsule) magnesium stearate could deliver a problematic fat dose. This is another example of you confidently making assertions for which you cannot possibly possess sufficient evidence. You do not know the stringency of my fat reduction protocols for the meat I consume. Therefore you do not know the quantity or concentration of fat I can tolerate. Furthermore, you likely know nothing about the consequences of hypervitaminosis A, and therefore nothing about the potential long term side effects of Accutane, and what they might do to intestinal sensitivity.

Of course, I welcome any verifiable biochemistry or clinical studies you might wish to share.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:58PM
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Days 1 and 2 of the reaction cycle were as normal (i.e., terrible), but day 3 has been unexpectedly less bad. If this continues to day 4, then I'll take that as evidence that the TUDCA is working, and give it a week long trial.

Can anyone shed additional light on -
1. The percentage of MS in a solid tablet? I've heard up to 5%, which seems quite low.
2. The comparable foods that would contain something like MS? Someone mentioned a donut, which would absolutely destroy me. I respond far worse to highly processed food. Could it be that the processing of MS makes it potentially more irritating than natural stearic acid in meat?

It occurs to me if MS is a fat, then it's supposed to be dissolved by bile, which I lack. Does this mean that the capsule dissolves more slowly for me?

This MS pill hit me much harder and faster than soybean oil suspension capsules, but not as hard as tablets with artificial flavoring (probably something like xylitol). It's far from the worst pill I've taken, in terms of reaction. I'm guessing the oil capsules disperse more than the solid tablets for me. I can take one or two oil capsules per day with food and experience only slow, minor deterioration in health.

I'd be very interested to know what sort of hypoallergenic / hypersensitive pill ingredients others have had success with. Something like water and cellulose capsules, or what? Aren't some pill casings made from a component of rice? That would be ideal.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 6:29AM
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For your amusement, Joe, here's an article describing how much stearate we consume on average - it's 8.2 grams a day for men, coming from sources including meat, vegetables, grains, nuts, fruits and milk.


And here's an article looking at the use of magnesium stearate in pill manufacturing. An example they studied (of a pill whose active ingredient is acetominophen (Tylenol) found that the concentration of mag. stearate was 1%. That adds up to about 7.5 milligrams of stearate.


So if you take that pill you're getting less than one-tenth of 1% of the average person's daily stearate intake. That hardly seems like a "concentrated...dose of fat" as you stated.

Now if you slugged down 100 pills containing mag. stearate a day (way way way more than even the most enthusiastic supplement user typically takes), you'd still be at only 9% of the average daily stearate intake from all nutritional sources. An average pill/supplement user gets only a minute fraction of their daily stearate (and magnesium) from their pills, even if they're on a low-fat diet.

As for magnesium, the recommended daily intake for this essential element is 400 mg. If we use that information from the pill article and assume that magnesium is present in a 1:1 ratio with stearate, that's 7.5 milligrams of magnesium in a pill. Again, you'd have to take a lot of pills every day to get too much magnesium (this can occur if one abuses magnesium-containing laxatives). Given how important magnesium is thought to be for cardiovascular health and immune system function (for example), concerns about magnesium are more commonly directed towards the possibility that we are consuming too little magnesium and not an excess.


You'll note that the article on mag. stearate use in pills mentions its value in assuring a reliable amount of active substances in pills by making them uniform. This is why scaremongering about mag. stearate is harmful, if it results in poorer quality pills whose accurate delivery of medication we can't rely on.

By the way, in case you're new to Internet forums, making personal attacks on other posters is generally viewed as an attempt to distract attention from the fact that one has no substantive points to make. And those making claims about the supposed toxicity of magnesium stearate are the ones who are obliged to provide evidence to that effect (not personal anecdotes), and not expect others to prove them wrong.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 1:17PM
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I found this forum because I was looking for information on magnesium stearate. I see there has been several years of controversial discussion on here. I'm not sure if this ingredient is good or bad for health and noone on here or anywhere else really knows for sure either. I don't care if there's been studies or not. The fact is it's an added ingredient among others, (gelatin, silcon dioxide, dicalcium phosphate, etc.). The list goes on and on. You will have to ingest these ingredients if you take supplements unless you research to find ones without one or more of these. I've found a few but most cost much higher or there may not be mag. stearate included but there's one or more of the other ones listed. It's a rock in a hard place. I have absorption problems in my colon and it causes vitamin and iron deficiencies. So, I do try to take supplements with the least unnecessary ingredients. For the average healthy person magnesium stearate and other unnecessary ingredients may not be such an issue. But, for someone like me it's a concern when noone really knows for sure without a doubt that these ingredients are A-OK and/or if they cause absorption problems.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 9:14PM
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Eric, you still haven't looked up the word "evidence", I see. I recommend you do so post-haste. "Personal anecdotes" most certainly are evidence.

You prefer to passive aggressively insinuate superiority; I prefer to directly criticize. If you had been civil and respectful to the others on this thread, I would have been friendlier. It's no use complaining now.

I have not argued that MS is toxic - I barely understand its chemical composition. I have simply noted that I react badly to it.

Otherwise, the factual information you provided is very welcome, and I'll read through it now.

One thing I'm curious about - if tablets contain very little MS, then what are they primarily composed of? Surely not the active ingredients? Then what is the binding agent?

It's quite possible I was wrong that it provides a concentrated dose of fat. I don't understand the mechanism by which it irritates my system. I'm just guessing.

Reading through it now...

"Too much lubricant, however, will
cause the powder to form globules and
to resist proper cohesion. This would fail
to provide both full bioavailability and
quick relief of symptoms."

Perhaps my lack of bile (the digestion's fat solvent) is causing something like the above to happen.

Aha, here is my answer to the tablet composition question:

"The excipients
make up the majority of the tablets by

So what are these mysterious excipients? My most recent tablet lists TUDCA, Calcium phosphate, Sipernat 22, Steric Acid, Magnesium stearate, film coating, in that order. So indeed MS is a very small percentage.

It's entirely possible that some other common ingredient class is causing my trouble with tablets. I will be trying a MS free liver capsule tonight, since the TUDCA 4 day reaction cycle has finished. That should be a good control.

It's interesting that despite the very low percentage of MS, increasing the percentage by just a point or two has a very powerful effect on bioavailability via clumping action. This might argue that the low percentage does not reflect its potential to irritate the intestines. The composition of a tablet is quite different than the composition of meat, for example. Reading this manufacturing study makes that quite clear. So MS in compressed tablets might not be at all comparable to stearic acid interspersed throughout meat fibers and juices.

Here's a key line: "Glidants and lubricants can
greatly increase hydrophobicity (the
resistance of a particle to absorb water),
which lowers the solvent penetration rate"

Interestingly, my anomalously rapid recovery continued from day 3-4, which might suggest that the TUDCA restored bile flow and thereby mitigated the MS irritation.

The paper concludes that MS levels should be about 1%, and 2% is too much. That speaks volumes about the impact of a small quantity.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 8:04AM
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Ok, having thought over the new information, here is my current best guess.

My chemistry is nonexistent, and I don't really trust Eric to tell us whether MS benignly breaks down into common food elements (Magnesium and stearic acid) or if there's something more sinister about the artificial compound. But given that the vast majority of people take it without trouble, I'm guessing it's safe enough.

However, for people with autoimmune, intestinal lining, or bile problems, MS may pose a bigger problem. It can do so in a number of ways. Machine compressed tablets are not a food humans are designed to eat, and small amounts of MS have an outsize impact on digestive solubility.

Long story short, if it gives you trouble, either avoid it or address the suspected reason you can't tolerate it.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 8:18AM
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"The paper concludes that MS levels should be about 1%, and 2% is too much. That speaks volumes about the impact of a small quantity."

All that says is 1% mag stearate is the optimal concentration for pills to prevent clumping of ingredients while maintaining good absorption of ingredients. It doesn't mean that 2% would suddenly cause the grievous symptoms that some people believe are associated with magnesium stearate.

Good for you on acknowledging you might have been wrong about there being a concentrated dose of fat in a pill due to this compound.

I'm well aware of what evidence is in a medical/scientific setting.

"Evidence-based medicine (EBM) or evidence-based practice (EBP) aims to apply the best available evidence gained from the scientific method to clinical decision making. It seeks to assess the strength of evidence of the risks and benefits of treatments (including lack of treatment) and diagnostic tests. Evidence quality can be assessed based on the source type (from meta-analyses and systematic reviews of double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials at the top end, down to conventional wisdom at the bottom), as well as other factors including statistical validity, clinical relevance, currency, and peer-review acceptance."

Personal anecdotes are right down there at the bottom of the evidence quality scale along with "conventional wisdom".

The opposite of resorting to personal attacks is not "passive aggressive" - it's being civil. Why not try it?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 8:26AM
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You can spin in however you like. The paper doesn't address intestinal irritation. However, it makes clear that tiny variations in the percentage of MS in a machine-compressed powder tablet have an outsized impact on solvency and absorption. It is therefore not prima facie absurd to suppose that a small amount of MS in a tablet could cause irritation. Therefore your argument that the amount is tiny and the substance is benign, and therefore no irritation can result, fails. It is ironic that your own evidence refuted your argument.

Thus, I was not entirely incorrect to call it a "highly concentrated dose of fat." The key is not the concentration, but the compression of the powder into a tablet, that creates a solubility challenge for the digestion.

You're now trying to play semantic games, conflating science with the scientific method with medicine and thereby ruling out anecdote, and appealing to EBM as an authority to justify this step. That begs the question of whether EBM is a good ideology - and it isn't. You're also backtracking from anecdote not being evidence to it being the lowest tier of evidence.

I speak plain English as defined by the dictionary, use common sense, and don't follow stupid ideologies off the cliff. Good luck in your war against all medical information that isn't produced by expensive controlled studies funded by government grants or pharmaceutical companies. I'm sure there couldn't possibly be any sort of biases, corruption or blind spots inherent in such an info vector.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 9:31AM
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So, the article I cited helps disprove your claim that tiny amounts of magnesium stearate in a pill represents a "highly concentrated dose of fat", and doesn't cite any toxicity from its use. It only talks about optimal mag. stearate levels to assure a good quality pill. From that we're to conclude that it somehow supports what you were saying?

Talk about spin.

Medicine in modern times has emphasized scientific foundations of treatment and increasingly embraces evidence-based therapy for optimal and cost-effective care. Rejecting high-quality evidence in favor of anecdotes is not striking a blow for the little guy against Big Pharma. It just makes it harder for the little guy to know what drugs and therapies work, and enables certain supplement manufacturers to profit off scaremongering (like claiming that magnesium stearate is toxic so you should buy their non-mag. stearate containing pills instead).

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 12:30PM
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its a poor substitution...gelatin has medicinal uses in stopping excess bleeding, replacing it with mag stearate was a money saving gesture on the part of the manufacturer and created a more inferior product. find another brand.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 5:36PM
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As Andy Dufresne said, "How can you be so obtuse? Is it deliberate?"

I am not talking about most people. I have intrahepatic cholestasis. Most people don't.

Bile dissolves fat. I lack bile. Therefore a compressed powder tablet with a percentage of MS optimized for a bile-containing digestion will not dissolve at the proper rate for me, thereby potentially leading to irritation.

It's amazing how you continually self-refute. Now you're talking about how the little guy needs to rely on EBM evidence. Guess what? EBM will never produce evidence relevant to me, because those with my problem set are such a tiny minority - possibly a minority of one. You have it precisely backwards - EBM favors the herd, not the minority.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 11:43PM
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Whoa, we have a Stephen King fan here (though I don't recall that particular line).

Passing over your latest gratuitous insult, one notices that your posts describe how you believe you have intrahepatic cholestasis, that you think taking Accutane caused it, that you believe magnesium stearate in a pill is toxic to you etc.
You further say that any advice that you consult a physician would be taken as insulting your intelligence.

Forgive me for asking, but has any physician confirmed your self-diagnoses, or told you that you cannot take conventional pills because they have super-concentrated fat that damages your gastrointestinal tract? Are there any reliable medical sources online that make this claim?

Otherwise it's hard to see how your particular anecdote outweighs any other, given that there's no credible mechanism for what you describe.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 10:59AM
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Eric, your persistent dialectical incompetence is beginning to grow on me. I suppose it goes with the territory of embracing EBM in the first place. So here's your coffin nail.

You've admitted that anecdote is evidence. You argue that controlled studies are a higher tier of evidence. I'm willing to concede that.

However, armchair theorizing is not a better form of evidence than anecdote, particularly when dealing with black box systems like the human body.

So why don't you supply your clinical study that demonstrates MS doesn't cause irritation. Keep in mind that in order to rule out the above anecdotes as false, the study needs to have an extremely high statistical confidence, and therefore a huge sample size.

Otherwise your logic (such as it is) loses to the above anecdotes.

Please note that I am simply following your hierarchy of evidence here.

Believe me, I am hoping you actually take up this challenge, as I expect any study you produce will only further undermine your case.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 12:40AM
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Joe, I think the problem here is a lack of understanding of the scientific method.

Anyone can propose a theory - in this case, your belief that a pill with a tiny amount of magnesium stearate irritates your G.I. tract.

Even if this theory wasn't so dubious (seeing that the claim that such pills contain a "concentrated dose of fat" already has been disproven and there has been no logical mechanism presented for magnesium stearate's alleged toxicity), it would need backing by quality evidence, which we lack.

Demanding that others "prove me wrong!" is a fallacy common among those who don't understand science works. It's up to you to prove your idea correct, either by doing your own research (impractical for nearly everyone in this forum) or pointing to good studies that back you up.

As I said earlier, I'm interested in seeing any such studies purporting to demonstrate the hazards of magnesium stearate. This thread has been going on for nearly seven years and no one has gotten beyond shaky personal anecdotes and wild speculation.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 11:04AM
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Hahaha. I understand your position better than you do. Do you really think you're going to educate me on the philosophical aspects of EBM, science or debate?

I'll type this as slowly as possible for you.

Thesis: MS causes irritation in a small minority of users.

Evidence: Anecdotes on this thread and around the web.

Your counter-evidence: ???

I don't have to produce scientific studies in order to notice something. That's your ideological framework, not mine. One wonders how you manage to stop at red lights.

I hope I don't have to explain what happens in a debate when one side has some evidence, and the other has none...

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 12:34AM
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Wow. I can't begin to read through all the banter being caused here. But if I may get back on topic.

There's a good substitute that manufacturers can use instead of mag.stearate. Instead of ANY use of a anti-clogging agent, many quality manufacturers have turned to using liquid nitrogen to keep the machinery cool thereby keeping the high speed parts from "cooking" the herbs onto the machinery.

Make sense?


    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 9:51AM
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That's interesting, theherbalist2012. But as I understand the use of magnesium stearate, it's intended to keep components of the pill from clumping together (which could result in some pills having too much of the active ingredient and others too little). Is there some way liquid nitrogen would prevent this?

As for anecdotes supposedly proving a thesis, please refer to the linked article I mentioned earlier. It describes a health scare in New Zealand after a popular thyroid medication was reformulated, resulting in a pill with different appearance and taste (but the same amount of active ingredient as before). Anecdotes of bad reactions spread, fueled by Internet rumors, and the company had to find other sources of the medication (an expense borne by all consumers). No cause for the negative reports was ever found, and after the excitement died down most people who'd abandoned the pill went back to it (and adverse reports declined to about the same level they were at before all the hoopla started).

Anecdotes aren't necessarily useless. But they're a poor form of evidence on which to base health decisions.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Maybe I didn't read enough. I thought we were talking about strictly single component herb pills (only one herbal ingredient).

I agree that there's a lot of "health nut" hoopla. "The sky is falling. The sky is falling." And people fall into that much of the time.

Off topic: One such scare is when everyone became convinced that removing the amalgam fillings would greatly improve your health. I investigated it myself back in the 80's in a limited way and found no foundation for the claim.

Just sayin' . . .


    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 2:12PM
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That story establishes that cosmetic variations can influence the amount of side effect reporting. Not that the side effects didn't happen to a minority of users. It's irrelevant in at least two other ways, but why bother counting further?

I'm beginning to believe your extreme overconfidence is simply a front to cover the fact that you don't have a study to produce.

Too bad. Your one redeeming quality was your willingness to source hard information.

An EBM-ite who doesn't back up his claims with data is like a steak-loving vegan.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 3:33PM
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Some good reading here on the negative proof fallacy:

"A negative proof is a logical fallacy which takes the structure of:

X is true because there is no proof that X is false.
If the only evidence for something's existence is a lack of evidence for it not existing, then the default position is one of skepticism and not credulity. This type of negative proof is common in proofs of God's existence or in pseudosciences where it is used to attempt to shift the burden of proof onto the skeptic rather than the proponent of the idea. The burden of proof is on the individual proposing existence, not the one questioning existence."

This fallacy (which stands in stark contradiction to what the scientific method requires) has appeared before in the Herbalism forum. "You haven't proved my claim false, therefore it's true!" "I think magnesium stearate is bad, you haven't proved it doesn't do all these bad things, therefore I'm right!"

Sorry, nope. The mag-stearate-is-bad advocates still have the burden of proof - the more so since the claim about magnesium stearate being toxic lacks a plausible basis. Any good evidence supporting that claim would provide a basis for further discussion; anecdote and personal belief are not good evidence.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 4:52PM
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I didn't know how to approach your question on the other thread about "Prevention." But I was trying to concentrate on CHRONIC illness Prevention. I think you just supplied the information that shares the way I feel about Prevention . . . "A negative proof is a logical fallacy which takes the structure of:

X is true because there is no proof that X is false.
If the only evidence for something's existence is a lack of evidence for it not existing, then the default position is one of skepticism and not credulity. This type of negative proof is common in proofs of God's existence or in pseudosciences . . . "

There's no way to argue for NOR against chronic illness Prevention for the very reason you stated. I think we're on the same page (?) atleast with this one thing.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 5:32PM
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"This fallacy (which stands in stark contradiction to what the scientific method requires) has appeared before in the Herbalism forum. "You haven't proved my claim false, therefore it's true!""

Straw man. That was not the formulation.

"I think magnesium stearate is bad, you haven't proved it doesn't do all these bad things, therefore I'm right!"

Second straw man.

"Sorry, nope. The mag-stearate-is-bad advocates still have the burden of proof - the more so since the claim about magnesium stearate being toxic lacks a plausible basis. "

That's nice. I didn't say it was bad or toxic.

"Any good evidence supporting that claim would provide a basis for further discussion; anecdote and personal belief are not good evidence."

Congratulations on invalidating virtually all written history as well as the entire legal system.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 11:04AM
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    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 11:15AM
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An excellent question.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 11:46AM
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Indeed... one you should have asked much, much sooner.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 3:36PM
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All I know is I do most of my own pluming & a few others, but it is not how I pay the rent. All the plumbers I know agree that Hair & grease, then child toys(little girl's hairbrush mostly) stop up the pipes.:-)
eric oh you put up a good debate, but I fail to sleep near the end.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 12:52AM
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So now I'm responsible for insomnia?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 1:17PM
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children children! go to your rooms

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 10:23AM
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Thank you Dr Truch / Dr. Sciame for the clarity, simplicity and integrity of which you wrote your posts on Wed, May 4, 11 at 1:17 and Wed, May 4, 11 at 13:45.

What you're saying is easy to understand, making perfect sense about MS taking up space otherwise available for the actual herb you're trying to get. Your example of the equal sized casual having 50% more cranberry when the MS was removed speaks for itself.

Thank you for speaking with clarity and simplicity in contract to the involved rhetoric that seems intended on "clouding the waters" of understanding.

Speaking of which... I want to know who's paying this "eric oh"?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 4:03PM
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Oh goody, a mag. stearate update.

Check out the 2/8 post demonstrating that stearate concentration in a typical pill is 1% (leaving 99% available for whatever else someone wants to put in there). That hardly indicates that supposed active ingredients are being "crowded out" by mag. stearate.

As to who's paying me - it should be obvious. I am being paid fabulous sums of money by the Big Pharma Extraterrestrial Reptilian Overlords, who are using magnesium stearate to depopulate the earth and make room for their scaly offspring.

Just connect the dots, sheeple people.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:44AM
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