When you have an ailment, or ache or pain, the first port of call is to go to the medicine cabinet or first aid box and hunt for something that will help relieve your pain. The most common form of pain relief is in the tablet form. They are small, easy to carry round, and relatively cheap and effortless to purchase, so it's no wonder why they are now such a common sight to see. Nonetheless, do we really know what is in these tiny little tablets which seem to help so much, and how on earth have they become so effective? The science behind the tablets is simply mind-blowing, so here is a much simpler version of what these tablets are about.

The part of the tablet that actually attacks your pain is called the active ingredient. This is in a powdered form, and contains various drugs which are extremely harmful if taken on their own. In order to make the drug user friendly, they are mixed with inert ingredients, or excipients. These are other ingredients which are added to the active ingredient to help with various elements such as; color; shape; flavorings; binding; disintegration ability; and protection. All in all, the excipients help the drug to be taken to the correct place without being damaged by stomach acid, and likewise, the excipients protect our bodies from the harsh chemicals in the active ingredient. However, combining the active ingredient with the excipients is not just a case of putting all the ingredients into a mold for a tablet. The various ingredients must be tested together separately before going into production. Different excipients work with different active ingredients, and some do not work with others, causing the active ingredient not to work.

Once the all of the ingredients have been selected, the process of pharmaceutical granulation can begin. Firstly, the active ingredient needs to be in a powdered form. Smaller granules are combined together to make larger granules, which are then easier for other products to bind to. This powder is then combined with the inert excipients. There are two ways of combining the products, which is dependent on their sensitivity to heat and moisture. If they are sensitive to heat and moisture, the product must undergo dry granulation -no liquid is used to combine the products. Instead, they are compressed and compacted in order to create the tablet. The other form of granulation is wet granulation, where a non-toxic liquid is used to combine the ingredients. The liquid dries and leaves a binding agent which allows all of the products to conglomerate to form the tablet.

The tablets are then coated, and sealed in the foiled packaging which protects the tablets when being thrown into bags, glove boxes, drawers and cabinets. The machines used for this process are able to be purchased or rented for your own use, for a batch of any size.