Why would there be caffeine in my aspirin? Or sodium?

Aspirin is o-acetyl-salicylic acid (I may have gotten an y or i wrong there). No cite here, but there’s a notion that some of the stomach problems sometimes associated with aspirin intake are lessened by taking it in a tamponated or basic form. The tampon form would be a mixture of the acid and its sodium salt; the basic form is the sodium salt. Both exist as OTC medication in Spain, I don’t know about the USA.

Why sodium, and not lithium or potasium? Because sodium is lots cheaper, and it’s considered sort of “neutral for anybody who doesn’t have HBP problems”. If anybody was to make a mixture involving the lithium salt, they’d want to be able to claim it’s good for the blues; if they were to involve the potassium salt, they’d want to be able to say it’s good for HBP. But in order to make such claims, they’d need to finance appropiate studies. Nobody is going to use the more expensive version when all it represents is a financial loss.

That’s on top of the solubility issue, which would also be affected by the metal used.

Phenacetin apparently.

Count me as surprised as well. IIRC the phrase they use in their ads is ~ “plus an extra ingredient that may help it work better.” “May”??? If there is any fraction of a shred of a suggestion that something might really work, drug companies wouldn’t be dancing around it.

Another question would be “why do these people feel the need to indicate that their aspirin is sodium-free and caffeine-free?”

The answer would be the same as for “why is there such a thing as people like my coeliac boss who, after years of buying any brand of rice, is now buying the one where someone from marketing thought of putting a sticker that says ‘adequate for coeliacs’.” She also buys “adequate for coeliacs” gummy bears, sunflower nuts and potato chips. She refuses to buy anything made with corn which doesn’t specifically say “adequate for coeliacs” because “they may have ground wheat in the same mill, leading to contamination.” When we go to a restaurant, she claims that she can’t have anything with sauces, instead of “I can’t eat any sauces that contain flour.” And, judging by the amount and kinds of “adequate for coeliacs” labels I’m seeing, she’s not the only one who goes through life like that.

The “no caffeine” and “no sodium” labels are there for people who think that any item contains their dietary foe unless the item’s label explicitly states that it doesn’t.

You can’t make a claim about efficacy without having trial data to back it up, using “may” would probably sidestep that requirement.

I wonder how much of her life before labelling consisted of “coeliac roulette”. If I had a condition that required me to watch out for certain things for fear of unpleasant effects, I would probably avoid anything not labelled because of the peace of mind it would give to be able to eat something without the thought of “will this make me sick” hanging in the back of my mind.

When I had gallstones I was very careful about avoiding any foods that contained fat. I never had an episode of biliary colic when I followed that plan. Deviating from it though (which I had to on vacation) became an unpleasant lottery, which spoilt my fun even when I didn’t have an attack, as I was constantly worrying whether I would shortly be doubled up in pain on the floor of the restaurant.

Note that phenacetin is chemically very closely related to acetaminophen (replace a hydroxyl group with an ethoxyl), which is probably why it has largely supplanted phenacetin.

For some reason, the only excipient names I can think of right now are magnesium stearate and lactose… neither of which contain sodium! I’m not aware of sodium stearate being used in pharmaceuticals, though it is used in detergents (perhaps in some form of extended-release mixture? I have no idea).

I used to know the ingredients to 6 different versions of an under-development drug (not yet on the market), but I can’t seem to remember them at all now (it’s been 2.5 years since I worked at that company!) I could have sworn one of them was a sodium salt.
The “Excipients” wiki lists the following soldium salts:
sodium starch glycolate
sodium carboxymethyl cellulosemethycellulose (?!?)
sodium citrate (–that’s the one I was looking for above!!)

And I suppose sodium benzoate could be counted as well, though it’s mostly used in syrups and, IIRC, injectables.

Yup. A long time ago. Don’t know what the “P” stands for either.

On preview, looks like MikeS got it.

I’ve never encountered any storage issues when keeping sodium or other salts of active pharmaceuticals vs their “free” form. It may explain the tiny vial of dessicant in my Excedrin, though.
As an added bonus, “salting” a molecule frequently makes it many times easier to isolate as a crystalline solid.

I have become a fan of Alka Seltzer, the first aspirin I have ever taken apart from once as a child. I was introduced to the lemon lime flavored variety but substituted the original formula when I could not find what I liked. It was extraordinarily salty. Can citrus chemicals replace whatever function was originally played by the salt?

I like that the label suggests its use for the problems often associated with overindulgence.

I can’t explain why Excedrin works for me and other medications with the same ingredients and same dosage don’t do as well for me. I wish I could but it knocks my headache out in about 20 minutes. I’ll pay the extra costs gladly.

I wish I had a factual answer. Better processing of the drugs maybe? Perhaps Qadgop can clear things up a little.

More likely the P stands for Paracetamol also known as acetaminophen which is cheap and plentiful.

I remember people saying that it stood for “All-Purpose Cure”. It’s what the medics handed out for minor illnesses.

Ingredients: potatoes, salt, sunflower oil.

That’s a list which is perfectly appropiate for coeliacs. There is only four things they need to avoid. My Dad had a bad reaction to mushrooms (they made him drunk): once they figured out that he couldn’t eat mushrooms, nor anything that had been cooked with mushrooms, he just avoided mushrooms. He didn’t need a label saying “appropiate for mushroom-sensitives” on, say, pizza margarita. I’m lactose intolerant, Middlebro can’t have capsaicins, Mom’s forbidden list looks like a school roster.

Sheboss, otoh, won’t eat something with an ingredients list of “potatoes, salt, sunflower oil” unless there is an additional label that says “adequate for coealiacs.” The ingredients list still says “potatoes, salt, sunflower oil”.

I think if aspirin or other analgesics had never been discovered, caffeine would be popular as a headache remedy.

I often wake up with a headache in the mornings, and I hold off taking any aspirin or ibuprofen until after I’ve drunk coffee. Nine times out of ten, the coffee quickly dissipates the headache and there’s no need for any further remedy.

I doubt it. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the word paracetamol (instead of acetaminophen) is in common use anywhere in North America - the word is used in Britain (and I assume Europe?), and I have certainly seen APC here (not in a very long time, but I have seen it). No cites, but my recollection also is that the P is Phenacetin. Anybody got a bottle of the stuff?

PS I vaguely recall seeing APC & C (the second C for codeine) as well, but I’m less confident of that recollection.

Would that headache not be caused by the caffeine withdrawl, and therefore you are simply treating that symptom, rather than “curing” a headache from another cause?

I don’t drink coffee and don’t know the mechanism of caffeine addiction, but I have known people to have headaches or other symptoms when they skipped their regular coffee breaks/times.

Nope. After a mostly headache-free youth, I started developing nighttime and morning headaches in the last couple of years. Doc says it’s menopause-related. Although I do get the caffeine-withdrawal headaches you mention if I start on a campaign of cutting back on coffee drinking for any reason. Those headaches are really, really bad news.