Updated: Jul 12, 2020
The simple answer is yes! Finding vegan and animal-free products is easy if you go through the VeganMed shop. We have done the research to verify which products do not contain any animal ingredients.
The prevalence of animal-derived ingredients in pain relief medication makes it difficult for vegans to find effective pain management. From gelatin to shellac, ingredient labels are confusing and convoluted (read HERE for more information about animal-derived ingredients).
Complicating matters, due to current regulations, animal testing is often used in the development of medications, supplements and cosmetics. Veganism adheres to avoiding all forms of animal exploitation, so many medications on the market are not vegan. Our goal at VeganMed is to find and support animal-free options, medications that do not contain any animal-derived ingredients, since "vegan" labeling may not always be appropriate.
There are different types of treatments depending on the type of pain. Please speak to your healthcare professional regarding all medical decisions.
Oral Pain Relief
Taking a tablet, capsule, or liquid by mouth is the most common form of pain relief. Many consumers choose over-the-counter options such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or naproxen. Both acetaminophen and NSAIDs reduce fever and address pain caused by muscle aches and stiffness, but NSAIDs specifically target inflammation (Felson). "NSAIDs relieve pain by reducing the production of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that cause pain (Felson)."
The VeganMed team verified that Advil Ibuprofen Tablets are animal-free. According to Advil, these tablets "work fast for headache relief, menstrual cramps, minor arthritis pain relief, muscle aches, back pain, and the aches and pains associated with the common cold."
For children and infant pain relief, Motrin Infant Drops (available in dye-free and original options) are a liquid ibuprofen formula, complete with an oral syringe for administering to fussy babies. According to Motrin, "this baby medicine from a pediatrician-recommended brand provides up to eight hours of relief from fever as well as minor aches and pains due to the common cold, flu, sore throat, headaches, and toothaches." Pediatric dosing is weight-based, so please confirm medication choice and dosing with your pediatrician.
Acetaminophen's exact mechanism is a current area of study, but scientists hypothesize that acetaminophen likely interacts with physiological pathways within the central nervous system (Toussaint et al. 2010, Mallet et al 2010). VeganMed has verified two animal-free acetaminophen options. Tylenol PM Extra Strength Pain Reliever for adults and Tylenol Children's Dissolve Powder Packets. Both products use the same active ingredient (acetaminophen), and Tylenol PM also includes diphenhydramine, an over-the-counter sleep aid.
Topical Pain Relief
Topical pain relief, also called topical analgesics, include lotions, gels, creams, patches or sprays that are applied directly to the skin. Topical pain relievers work best for acute musculoskeletal pain, like sore muscles, arthritis, or sprains and strains (Cleveland Clinic 2019). Active ingredients used in topical analgesics vary greatly depending on the intended purpose of the product.
VeganMed's most popular topical analgesic is Genexa Pain Crush. Pain Crush's active ingredient is menthol, which is also known as mint camphor. Mint camphor creates a cooling sensation to the applied area, tricking the brain into thinking that the skin or body temperature is dropping. This desensitizes nerve endings and decreases arterial blood flow (Cleveland Clinic 2019).
Disclaimer: The product and/or medical information provided on VeganMed is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or product.
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Thank you for your awareness and concern for animal-derived ingredients!
If you have any further questions about ingredients in your medicines and supplements, feel free to reach out to the VeganMed team!
Griffin, R. Morgan. “NSAIDs for Pain Relief.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/arthritis/features/pain-relief-how-nsaids-work.
Toussaint, K., et al. “What Do We (Not) Know about How Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) Works?” Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, vol. 35, no. 6, 2010, pp. 617–638., doi:10.1111/j.1365-2710.2009.01143.x.
Mallet, Christophe, et al. “TRPV1 In Brain Is Involved in Acetaminophen-Induced Antinociception.” PLoS ONE, vol. 5, no. 9, 2010, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012748.
Cleveland Clinic. “Topical Pain Relief: What Is It + How Does It Work?” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, 12 Sept. 2019, health.clevelandclinic.org/topical-pain-relief-what-is-it-and-how-does-it-work/.