When supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals or treating a condition with nutraceuticals or herbal remedies, another area (apart from what’s been discussed in part I) that requires careful consideration, is the route of administration!
Should you take a supplement in its tablet, capsule, lozenge/sublingual, liquid form or receive an intramuscular (IM) or intravenous (IV) injection?
All these forms have their place in the therapeutic usage of natural remedies. Before getting into this however I should mention that the efficacy of each of these forms also varies depending on the laboratory process and its manufacturer! Naturopaths and other health care practitioners tend to stick to ‘professional’ product lines that keep to the highest standards of Good Manufacturing Practice and have their products put through rigorous testing to ensure safety and efficacy.
With regards to tablet versus capsule, the major difference is that a tablet can be made to contain more of a certain ingredient as opposed to a capsule (eg. 300 mg in a tablet versus 200 mg in a capsule of the same size). On the other hand, there’s the misconception that tablets go through your system undissolved and this is where the practices of the manufacturer come into play with regards to how dissolvable a tablet is! [To test this, drop a tablet in pure water and stir occasionally. A well-manufactured product should not take more than an hour to dissolve; this is a very good sign since the weakest of stomachs would still be a lot more acidic than water and its peristaltic muscle contractions would assist this process along (eg. all MediHerb tablets are made to disintegrate within 30 minutes in the stomach)]. Other than that, tablet versus capsule is a matter of personal preference with regards to ease of intake (tablets being hard may be more difficult to swallow for some) as well as the fact that most capsules are made of gelatine which most vegetarians would prefer not to take!
Products that come in lozenge or sublingual forms are usually specific supplements that are allowed to dissolve under the tongue and are absorbed directly into the vascular system. These products have their effects immediately since they bypass the digestive system. Also, this route allows those with mal-absorption issues to obtain the full benefits of a remedy. This route of administration however has its limitations and is not possible with every supplement!
Liquid forms of supplements are not the easiest to lug around especially when needed to be taken in divided doses throughout the day. They are however recommended with certain supplements. This recommendation is usually made based on the general health of the patient and the functioning of their digestive system since this route completely eliminates the need for the digestive function!
Intramuscular and intravenous forms of certain nutrients are required and necessary when: A. a patient is either extremely debilitated, malnourished or has a condition requiring very high doses of a certain nutrient or B. The patient is unable to absorb nutrients from the digestive tract (extreme cases of mal-absorption or lack of a complete digestive tract due to surgery). These forms give rise to high blood concentrations in a short time and are usually found to be immediately effective.