If you’re a hard core Dr. Hulda Clark follower, you know she played favorites when it came to the type of capsules she recommended. Her fondness for gelatin-based capsules was born out of necessity.
A few decades ago, she found gelatin capsules to be superior over plant-based capsules when tested for purity of ingredients. And if you know anything about Dr. Clark’s protocols, you know she was a stickler for pure ingredients. For patients with chemical sensitivities and compromised immune systems, she insisted on only the purest products in, on, and around the body.
When Dr. Clark enlisted her son Geoff to encapsulate her formulas, the plant-based capsules available at that time were highly processed and exposed to pollutants that wouldn’t pass her purity standards. So minimally processed gelatin capsules, made simply from safely sourced gelatin and water, became her capsules of choice.
Fast forward a few decades and you would hope there have been improvements in the production of plant-based capsules. Unfortunately, the majority of veggie capsules still have toxic undertones.
Why Traditional Veggie Capsules Are Toxic
First of all, the terms veggie capsule and vegetable capsule are used loosely to indicate the capsule is plant-based. A more realistic term is vegetarian capsule since most are not made from actual vegetables.
So what are vegetarian capsules made from? Most are made from hydroxypropyl methylcellulose - hypromellose or HPMC for short. It’s a semisynthetic polymer made by isolating useful compounds from natural sources. The process starts with wood pulp fiber that gets chemically treated with methyl chloride and propylene oxide.
Methyl chloride (chloromethane) was once widely used as a refrigerant, but due to concerns about toxicity, this extremely flammable gas is no longer used in consumer products. Methyl chloride can be made synthetically from petroleum or if can be generated from municipal and industrial waste incineration.
Propylene oxide, also derived from petroleum, is a highly flammable liquid that is used as a pesticide and fumigant. Exposure to propylene oxide causes irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.
The chemical slurry used to make HPMC doesn’t sound too good for humans or the environment. Even the Environmental Protection Agency identified the production of cellulose ethers such as HPMC as a source of hazardous air emissions.
Veggie Capsules Can’t Be Labeled Organic
The toxic chemicals used to make HPMC ruin the chances of a finished product being certified organic, which is the golden certification for natural products. Even if the ingredients contained inside an HPMC capsule are certified organic, there’s no such luck getting the finished product certified.
In 2002 the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) rejected a petition to use HPMC for organic processing.
In May 2002 the NOSB approved gelatin for its use in organic food processing when obtained from organic sources.
Gelatin Capsules Come Out On Top for Purity
If you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, gelatin capsules may be the way to go. Granted, if you have any dietary restrictions it’s worth it to find out what type of gelatin is used. The majority of empty, hard shell gelatin capsules are bovine (cattle) or porcine (pig) derived, but occasionally you can find capsules made from fish gelatin. Certified Halal and Kosher gelatin capsules are widely available.
Gelatin comes from animal bones, skin or connective tissue. It’s often the same gelatin you would find in a variety of foods, such as Jell-O, gummy candies, and yogurt because gelatin alone is considered a food ingredient. Unlike HPMC.
What are the ingredients in gelatin capsules? Just gelatin and water - no chemicals needed.
If you’re concerned with transmissible spongiform encephalopathies from animal products, such as the mad-cow prion (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), gelatin capsules must meet strict health and safety requirements to rule out such threats. TSE/BSE-free certified gelatin capsules are a standard in the supplement industry.
Bonus Health Benefits from Gelatin
Thanks to the popularity of collagen these days, gelatin’s reputation is trending upwards, too. Collagen and gelatin have similar nutrient profiles but they differ in chemical properties. Both, however, are linked to beauty and rejuvenation.
Gelatin is packed with amino acids that help to build cartilage and connective tissues, which promotes joint flexibility. It’s also great for reducing the signs of aging skin.
We can’t say the same for HPMC capsules.
Finally, A Clean Veggie Capsule Alternative!
The rise of adopting a more plant-based diet is big business these days, even if you’re not a self-proclaimed vegan or vegetarian. And for those who prefer a clean veggie capsule, a select number of Dr. Clark Store branded products (and products from our sister brand Vitamins Without Junk) are available in a plant-based tapioca capsule.
If you’re familiar with tapioca pudding or boba tea, we’re talking about the same source as those characteristic gelatinous pearls - cassava root.
Made from fermented, organic tapioca, we finally found a vegetarian capsule that hasn’t been chemically treated to heck and actually passed our rigorous testing protocols for all raw materials.
Tapioca capsules tick all the boxes for purity and then some:
So pay attention to what type of capsules you're buying and make the better choice.