What Is Pharmaton?

Pharmaton is a dietary supplement developed and produced by Boehringer Ingelheim, a German-based company founded in the late 1800s. According to the manufacturers, Pharmaton contains compounds that can help alleviate fatigue, relieve stress and prevent physical and mental conditions caused by age, illness or poor diet. Pharmaton is available primarily in Northern Africa and the Middle East and comes in varieties for adults, athletes, children, and pregnant and nursing women. Do not take Pharmaton or give Pharmaton to children until you've consulted a doctor.

Fatigued man (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Pharmaton Ingredients

The primary ingredient in the original adult Pharmaton supplement, known as the Pharmaton Vitality Capsule, is an extract of Panax ginseng. The ginseng supposedly supports the function of your immune system and helps increase your energy level. Pharmaton also contains vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A and E, and the B vitamins riboflavin, folic acid, thiamine, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12. Other formulations have additional nutrients. For example, Pharmaton CardioActive has omega-3 fatty acids, while the children's supplement has the amino acid lysine.

Possible Side Effects

The U.K.'s National Health Service reports that using Pharmaton may cause side effects such as trouble sleeping, skin rashes, headache, a dizzy sensation or digestive problems like diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain. You should not use Pharmaton if you have kidney disease; any type of trouble digesting or absorbing glucose or galactose; an iron storage disorder like hemochromatosis; or a high concentration of calcium, vitamin A or vitamin D in your blood. Because Pharmaton may contain soy, peanut oil or lactose, you should not use the supplements if you are allergic to any of these substances.

Special Considerations

Pharmaton is not a dietary supplement approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Any Pharmaton product you purchase has not been checked for purity, safety or effectiveness. Prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and other dietary supplements may interact harmfully with Pharmaton or cause a nutrient overdose. Don't take Pharmaton if you are using a blood thinner, levodopa, tetracycline antibiotics like doxycline, or any form of vitamin or mineral supplement. If you do choose to use Pharmaton, the NHS advises that you take it for no more than 12 weeks; stop immediately and seek medical help if you have symptoms that worsen while taking Pharmaton.

Expert Insight

Although the Pharmaton producers say that the supplements are a good way to boost the nutrition of a less-than-ideal diet, Harvard Medical School professor Dr. JoAnn Manson says it's best to get the majority of your vitamins and minerals from nutrient-dense produce, whole grains, beans, legumes, lean protein and low-fat or nonfat dairy. Avoid relying on any supplement -- including Pharmaton -- as a substitute for a healthy diet. Boehringer Ingelheim also points out that healthy lifestyle habits other than taking Pharmaton can help you overcome tiredness and the effects of stress, including a balanced diet, regular physical activity and moderation of alcohol and caffeine use.

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