Most Common Chemicals Used in Medicines

Nowadays, a majority of people are familiar with the names of the medicines, but they are unaware of what chemicals are used in the composition of these medicines. While there are thousands of medicines on the market today, each category of medicine uses a certain type of chemical or salt. Here is the list of chemicals that are most commonly used in the production of medicines.

Commonly used Chemical Salts Cover


Acetaminophen Chemical

One of the most common types of medicines available in the market today is painkillers. Moreover, analgesics bought in large quantities are over-the-counter medicine, therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, is one of the most common salts used in analgesics. While there are other compounds like ibuprofen that are used to produce a similar result, those aren’t used in large quantities because of their adverse effects. Acetaminophen is used to provide relief from pain caused by injuries and conditions like migraine, fever, and arthritis.

Medicines: Some of the commonly used medicines that contain acetaminophen are Tylenol, DayQuil, Combiflam Plus, and Dolo.

Acetylsalicylic Acid

Aspirin Chemical

This is also a painkiller; however, the working of this compound is different from acetaminophen. Acetylsalicylic acid works by restricting the production of thromboxane A2, a compound required by platelets to bind together during blood clotting, resulting in reduced inflammation. Since it is known to stop blood from clotting, it is commonly prescribed to heart patients.

Medicines: Acetylsalicylic acid is commonly found in Aspirin and Talwin.


Pseudoephedrine Chemical

While the winters are excellent for enjoying a hot cup of coffee, it also comes with the downside of a stuffy nose. Despite various health conditions, each individual experiences a stuffy nose at least once during the winters. Thankfully, the chemical known as pseudoephedrine works very effectively as a decongestant. It works by shrinking the swelling of the mucous membrane in the nose, and as an added benefit, it also drains the sinuses as well.

Medicines: Most commonly used medicines that contain pseudoephedrine are Sudafed, Advil, and Adelomax.


Robitussin Chemicals

This chemical is used extensively in cough suppressants. It falls into the category of morphinan, which includes psychoactive drugs and opiates, therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that it also has some sedative properties. In high doses, it produces a similar effect to some anesthetics like ketamine. Interestingly, people are well-aware of this property, and that is why it is also used as a recreational drug to induce hallucinations.

Medicines: Two major medicine brands that contain dextromethorphan are Robitussin and Vicks.


Diphenhydramine Chemical

One of the active ingredients in most antihistamines, this substance is used to treat allergies and insect bites. Interestingly, people also use it to treat insomnia and on some rare occasions, to cure nausea. It comes in the form of tablets, suspension, injections, and even cream. It works by blocking the compound known as histamines, which are the immune system’s response to allergens. One of the common side effects of diphenhydramine is sleepiness, and its overdose can result in confusion and gastrointestinal disorders.

Medicines: It is largely used by Benadryl.

Calcium Carbonate

Calcium Carbonate Tums Chemical

Calcium carbonate has been used for decades to treat heartburn and acidity as it is alkaline in nature. It is abundant in limestone, and interestingly, it is a fundamental compound that gives eggs and shells their structures. While it is an excellent solution for gastric acid, long-term use can lead to kidney failure and hypercalcemia. In addition to providing relief to the mentioned conditions, it is also used in construction and organic cleaning products.

Medicines: A majority of the antacids use calcium carbonate; however, the most famous one is Tums.


Simethicone GAS X

Simethicone is used in some of the antacids along with calcium carbonate; however, the primary use of this chemical is to get rid of excessive gas, which results in bloating, burping, and sometimes flatulence. It works by reducing the surface tension of the gas bubbles, which allows the entrapped gas to exit the body via burping. It should be noted that while simethicone relieves the gas, it doesn’t stop its prevention.

Medicines: It is mostly used in anti-bloating medicines like Gas-X and Ovol.


Psyllium Chemical

Constipation is one of the most common conditions that is encountered by millions of people each day. While there are many chemicals that are used in laxatives, they often lead to other problems. Presently, psyllium is the preferred choice of ingredient when it comes to providing relief from constipation. It is a soluble dietary fiber that is not absorbed by the small intestine, therefore, it easily reaches the large intestine and along the way, absorbs required moisture to soften the stool for an easier bowel movement.

Medicines: It is largely used by brands like Metamucil and Shidhpur’s Sat Isabgol.


Docusate Chemical

While psyllium is a harmless compound that relieves constipation, the most commonly used compound in laxatives is docusate. It is also a part of the World Health Organization’s essential medicine list. It is mostly administered orally; however, a rectal suppository is also available that is known to work much quicker. Interestingly, studies have not found a link between docusate and relief from constipation, and scientists believe that it is mostly a placebo.

Medicines: The most famous laxative that utilizes docusate is Colace.

Bacitracin Zinc

Bacitracin Zinc Chemical

Minor scrapes and cuts are something that can happen at any time. Therefore, it isn’t surprising to know that antiseptic ointments are sold in large quantities each year. The two most common chemicals that are used in such ointments are Bacitracin Zinc and Povidone-Iodine. While both compounds are used extensively, the former is found in a higher number of medicines. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria.

Medicines: Two widely used antiseptic creams that contain this compound are Neosporin and Good Sense.

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