Drugs and Medicines: Hazards of Self Medication and Artificial Sweetening Agents (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Hazards of Self Medication

  • When medicines are taken by a patient without the advice of a qualified doctor, it is called self-mediation.
  • Self-medication is very harmful and a dangerous practice. One should never try self-medication.

Some of the harmful effects are:

  • A medicine, which has worked well for someone, may not be good for you and can even cause some serious harm.
  • You may take a medicine in quantity more than necessary. It may be harmful for you.
  • You may take quantity less than necessary. The disease-causing microorganisms may gain resistance to the medicine and the medicine may become ineffective.
  • The medicines, which you can buy without a prescription of a doctor, are called over-the-counter medicines. For example, cough syrups, crocin, aspirin, etc. are over the counter medicines.

Chemicals in Foods – Preservatives and Artificial Sweetening Agents

Food Preservatives

“Chemical substances which are used to protect food materials against microorganisms (bacteria yeasts and mould) are called preservatives.”

Some commonly used preservatives are:

Common Salt, Sugar and oils: The sufficient amount of salt resist the activity of microorganisms in food it is called salting. It is used to preserve raw mango, bean, fish and meat, etc. Sugar syrup used for preserving like apple, mango, amla and carrot etc. Sugar, oil, vinegar & citric acid are used to preserve pickles, ketchups and jams, etc.

Sodium benzoate : It is used for preserving of food material like fruit juices, soft drinks, squashes and jams. It is soluble in water. It is metabolized as hippuric and which is excreted in urine.

Sodium meta bisulphites : Its preservative action is due to which from sulphurous acid when dissolved in water. It also inhibits the growth of yeasts, mould and bacteria. It is used to preserve fruits, juices, squashes, pickles, apples, etc. Sodium and Potassium Salts of propionic acid, sorbic acid are also used as preservatives.


  • The unsaturated fat and oils are readily oxidized on storage, the taste and smell are changed and become rancid. To prevent this oxidation, rancidity and spoilage, certain chemical substances are added, are called antioxidant (food additives) .
  • When these are added to food items containing fats and oils retard the oxidation because they are more reactive towards oxidation than fats and oils. So, the oxidation of food is prevented. Antioxidants react with free radicals and stop the oxidation of food.
  • The most familiar antioxidants are butylated hydroxyl toluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyl anisole (BHA) .
The Unsaturated Fat and Oils

These are added to butter, meats, cereals chewing gum, snack gum, baked food and beer etc. It increases the life of food from months to years. It shows more active synergetic effect when added with Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and citric acid.

Artificial Sweetening Agents

  • “The chemical compounds which give sweetening effect to the food are called sweeting agent.”
  • The excess intake of natural sugar cause to obesity diabetics and tooth decay. Natural sugar is a good source of energy. While the artificial sweetening agents does not provide energy. It is excreted from the body in urine unchanged.

Some commonly used artificial sweetening agents are:

Saccharin (O-Sulphur Benzamide)

Saccharin is insoluble in water, but sodium salt is highly soluble in water. It is 550 times sweeter than sugar. It is not metabolized by our body. So, it does not provide energy and has no calorific values.

Saccharin (O-Sulphur Benzamide)


It is methyl ester of dipeptide derivative derived from aspartic acid and phenylalanine. It is 100 times as sweet as sugar. It is unstable at cooking temperatures. It is used in cold drinks and soft drinks. It is an exception because the body breaks it down in to amino acid and menthol.

Agents: Aspartame


It is very high potency sweetener; It is about 2000 times sweeter than sugar. It is more stable at cooking temperatures. It is very difficult to control the sweetness of food.


  • It is trichloro derivative of sucrose. it՚s taste is like sugar. It is also stable at cooking temperatures. It is about 600 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Sucralose is expected to become a great commercial artificial sweeting agent.

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