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What are the kashruth issues involved in the taking of non-prescription gel-capsule medicine which does not have kosher certification?

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@PM, I assume you are asking about gel capsules that are made with non-Kosher gelatin. If they are made with Kosher gelatin, then I don't see the issue. –  Seth J Jul 27 '12 at 15:03
@SethJ good point, updated the question –  user1668 Jul 27 '12 at 15:43
@AdamMosheh i'm not asking for a psak –  user1668 Jul 27 '12 at 16:27
PM, with the current wording, I'm inclined to agree with @AdamMosheh. I think the question needs to be more clearly asking for the Halachic considerations involved rather than asking for permission to take non-certified (not even known whether it is non-Kosher!) gel capsules. –  Seth J Jul 27 '12 at 17:18
@SethJ The wording doesn't seem to be that different than many other halacha questions we have on this site. –  Double AA Jul 27 '12 at 18:18

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

According to Rabbi Dovid Heber, Kashrus administrator of Star-K, pills that are swallowed whole without chewing, poor-tasting liquids, and unflavored tablets may be taken, even if they are not kosher, by anybody whose life is in danger from the illness, by anybody who is so sick that they are completely unable to function properly, or by a child under six years old who is feeling discomfort.

Somebody who is just feeling discomfort, but is able to function, should consult a Rav; however, even someone who is just feeling discomfort may take a medicine where all of the ingredients contain no food, nutrition, or hydration value.

In addition, any unkosher ingredient which is batel bashishim (nullified because it makes up less than 1/60 of the total product) is acceptable in medication, even for someone who is just experiencing discomfort, and even when there are additional stringencies with regard to bitul bashishim with food.

I don't know this for a fact, so don't act on it without finding out, but I would imagine that in nearly any medication which contains unkosher ingredients, those ingredients would be bitul bashishim.

Edit, Rabbi Heber says this about gelatin capsules:

Gelatin is an ingredient that is derived from an animal. Currently all gelatin capsules on the market come from non-Kosher approved gelatin. Swallowing a capsule is considered She'lo ki'derech achila " and may be taken by a choleh sh'ain bo sakanah. (A sick person who is not in danger.) One who has a michush [discomfort-this note is added by me, not Rabbi Heber.]- should consult a Rav before taking gelatin capsules.

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