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Suppose I am taking an antidepressant medication, and my research indicates that it is produced by a complex synthesis beginning with the substances propionic acid and benzene.

As an antidepressant, the medication is taken for the purpose of experiencing pleasure, meaning that a bracha is required.

Propionic acid and benzene are both industrially produced from petroleum. Is there a bracha for oil? Or would we go back further and say that because oil comes largely from diatoms, a form of algae, we should say shehakol?

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    sigil, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing your question here! You might be interested in this related question about blessings on medication in general. I find your assertion that "As an antidepressant, the medication is taken for the purpose of experiencing pleasure, meaning that a bracha is required." surprising; can you provide a source for it? – Isaac Moses Oct 1 '15 at 18:50
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    @IsaacMoses, this document references Orach Chaim 204:8 when it claims, "The food on which you recite a bracha must have a good taste or a satisfying quality." The antidepressant is taken for its satisfying quality, in that it changes the user's emotions such that they experience pleasure. – sigil Oct 1 '15 at 19:03
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    Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/13508 – msh210 Oct 1 '15 at 19:19
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    Satisfied in that context really means satiated. – user6591 Oct 2 '15 at 4:00
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The real question here is not so much what are the components of the medication but rather whether or not it has a good taste.

If it has no taste, it doesn't require a blessing at all. We only say blessings on food that have good taste (ha'naat grono, pleasure of the throat) or nutritional value (water has no taste but we still enjoy it when thirsty).

If the medication has a good taste, then we say sheakol according to many opinions (R Shlomon Zalman Auerbach, R Ovadia Yosef, R Moshe Feinstein).

If you take your medicine with water

  • if you only drink the water for the medication and it has no taste, then there is no blessing (neither on medication nor on the water)
  • if you are thirsty and would enjoy the water, you can say sheakol, drink some water then take the medication with more water -- this is also the way to get out of a doubt if you still have one

Sources: R' Forst sefer on brachos, Nishmat Avraham 204:8, this related MY answer

PS. There is no specific bracha on oil (petrol) - although you wouldn't need one anyway as it is (presumably) disgusting and (presumably) of no nutritional value.

  • Does the medical benefit of the drug qualify as a nutritional value? If it is necessary for the consumer's psychological health, that seems to indicate that it is nourishing. – sigil Jan 14 '16 at 19:42
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    @sigil no in the context of brachot for food the Halacha recognizes only "the pleasure of the throat" and "the pleasure of the stomach". There are no blessings on things conducive to psychological health although there are blessings on unusual events that likely make one happy (e.g., seeing a rainbow, seeing a place when one encountered a miracle, seeing a blossoming fruit tree once a year) but these are not focused on the pleasure one experiences but on the Creator of these wonders. May you enjoy refuat hanefesh v' refuat haguf – mbloch Jan 14 '16 at 19:50
  • Thank you for the kind wishes, and for the careful explanation. It's consistent with user6591's comment on my question that the bracha celebrates the food's satiation of hunger, rather than its physiological nutrition. Then, only an appetite suppressant drug like phentermine deserves a blessing. – sigil Jan 14 '16 at 19:59
  • @sigil sorry but an appetite suppressant drug is no different. user6591 didn't say otherwise – mbloch Jan 14 '16 at 20:01

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