“Pick me up some Tylenol” used to be a simple request, but it’s become a bit more complicated. Instead of responding to this request with a quick retort like, “Will do,” you now have to ask, “Do you want capsules, tablets, or softgels?”
What are softgels?
Softgels are water-soluble. They’re designed to dissolve in the stomach or small intestine and can be taken with or without food. Their popularity with consumers is due primarily to the fact that they are often tasteless and easier to swallow than capsules or tablets.
The pros and cons of softgels.
Like tablets and capsules, softgels have their pros and cons.
Ingredient longevity: no other delivery method for liquids such as vitamins, THC, cannabis, etc., protects its ingredients better than softgels. Unlike tablets and two-piece capsules, the hermetic seal of softgels shields the ingredients from oxidation and degradation.
Encapsulation machines form and fill a softgel in one step without degrading the product by exposing the ingredients to air. Although two-piece capsules can be filled with liquid, the contents are exposed to air during manufacturing.
Absorption: the prompt release of nutrients is essential to effective absorption. Studies show that softgels release nutrients into the body quicker than tablets or capsules. Softgels are made of gelatin, carrageenan, or vegetable starch, which are well tolerated by the body and dissolve easily in the stomach.
Easy to take: Softgels are typically oval-shaped and smooth, which many people find to be the easiest method of ingestion.
Customization: encapsulation machines enable softgels to be manufactured in a variety of shapes and sizes, colors, and etchings, which makes them aesthetically pleasing and a creative branding opportunity. Many manufacturers find softgels attract consumers better than tablets or capsules and are a great way to market their product.
Other pluses of softgels are:
- They are neutral in taste
- Shelf-stable at room temperature
- Can vary significantly in size and shape to accommodate different doses
- Some are also made opaque, which helps protect the contents against light and UV radiation
Cost: though there’s not a substantial price difference, softgels can cost more to make than tablets or capsules because the technology to encapsulate them is more specialized and takes a bit more finesse.
Gelatin: a small minority of people with dietary restrictions won’t use softgels made of gelatin. However, there are alternatives, like Hypromellose (a modified cellulose) which can be used to avoid this issue.
What about capsules and tablets?
Capsules and tablets have been around longer than softgels, and they are still effective drug and vitamin ingestion methods. But, they have their limitations.
While capsules also don’t break down in the mouth, size can be a problem if a large dosage is required (which is why large capsules are sometimes called “horse pills”).
Some people prefer tablets because they can be crushed and dissolved in water, split in two, or mixed with solid foods, which can benefit those who struggle with swallowing a pill. However, they offer little protection against the bitter taste of many supplements and often carry an unpleasant aftertaste.
Softgels and medical cannabis
Many people new to medical cannabis believe they have to smoke it to capture its benefits. While this is one way to administer it, cannabis oils have proven to be an effective and safe non-inhalation method. Using oils delivered via softgels provides the same therapeutics as smoking cannabis without combustion’s byproducts and provides longer-lasting relief.
Softgels provide discreet, easy consumption of cannabis oil. They can be transported in large or small quantities, are easy to swallow, and don’t require additional equipment (pipes, rolling papers, etc.)
Softgels also provide consistent dosages of THC, CBD, or both. They are pre-measured and available in multiple potency levels.