The adjuvant is a pharmacological adjuvant that enhances the effect of the coadministered drug. He himself has usually no or only a small pharmacological effect.

What is an adjuvant?

The term adjuvant is derived from the Latin verb adjuvare, which means helping. Adjuvants are administered together with a reagent which alone would not act or only weakly. The addition of an adjuvant in the drug strengthens the effect. For example, it may occur more quickly, appear more prominently, or maximize the level of effect in the tissue, which in turn may result in an improved effect.

A common example of adjuvants are penetration enhancers that allow pharmacologically active substances to permeate membranes more rapidly and in greater quantity.

An adjuvant is not equivalent to adjuvant therapy. The adjuvant is always added to the drug itself or administered immediately with it to affect its efficacy. Adjuvant therapies, on the other hand, are different forms of therapy that are used in parallel, with adjuvant treatment being an accompaniment to a main therapy.

Pharmacological action

Adjuvants themselves should have as little effect as possible on the body and organs, and as little as possible influence the properties of the drug they enhance. Ideally, they only affect the drug with which they are administered together.

Among other things, an adjuvant can ensure that an active ingredient acts more quickly because its concentration in the tissue increases or it can penetrate inhibiting membranes.

Chemically, adjuvants are often solutions and emulsions. To distinguish are those adjuvants of drugs that are used in the context of adjuvant therapy and are also referred to as adjuvant. These are in fact pharmacologically active, which is also the purpose of this form of therapy.

Medical use & use for treatment and prevention

Adjuvants are found in almost every dosage form of medication. Almost every patient knows them for example through headache tablets. Substances such as lysine and caffeine ensure that active ingredients such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen work better and faster, as they can penetrate the tissue at a higher concentration. Caffeine is already considered an adjuvant therapy because the substance expands the vessels and additionally supports the effect of the actual active ingredient.

Adjuvants may also be administered intravenously, such as by infusion or by a single injection. They serve, for example, the intake of vaccines against influenza, tetanus, diphtheria or hepatitis A. In these cases, aluminum hydroxide is used as an adjuvant. In this form, the adjuvants affect the immune system such that it becomes particularly susceptible to the vaccine.

Risks & Side Effects

Adjuvants should be as free of side effects and interactions as possible. In practice, this can not always be guaranteed and so it must be taken into account with each drug that the adjuvant contained in it can have side effects.

In particular, the aluminum hydroxide used in vaccines is again and again strongly in the public criticism, although so far could not be proven, whether it really holds the risks attributed to him. These suspected side effects include, for example, ADHD or later Alzheimer's and dementia.

In particular, the adjuvant aluminum hydroxide is risky because it induces inflammation at the site of injection which increases the number of immune cells in the area, so that the active substance is utilized by the latter to a greater extent. However, it is hardly degradable and can remain in the body of the vaccinated patient for a very long time, where it could cause infections in the future.

For each adjuvant, it must always be considered whether the patient has already had contact with the substance before and whether it has caused any hypersensitive or dangerous reactions. The treating physician will ask for it before the drug with the adjuvant can be administered to the patient. Tags: 

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