The Chemistry of Advil


Advil is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug composed mainly of ibuprofen. It is used to relieve pain and lessen inflammation in joints, muscles, and fibrous tissue. As an athlete, I need to compete at the top of my game at all times, thus I cannot let pain slow me down. So I often find myself using advil and other painkillers to help me excel, and now I know what I am putting into my body and what it is doing.

  • Composition of ...
    • Active Ingredients
      • Ibuprofen
        • Pain relieving compound
    • Inactive Ingredients
      • acetylated monoglycerides
        • Used in the sugar coating
        • Bonded together sugars
      • colloidal silicon dioxide
        • Keeps the inside powdery
      • corn starch
      • croscarmellose sodium
        • Enhances the active ingredients
      • Methylparaben
        • Preservative
      • microcrystalline cellulose
        • Texturizer
      • pharmaceutical glaze
      • pharmaceutical ink
      • Povidone
        • Tablet binder
      • pregelatinized starch
      • Propylparaben
        • Additive/preservative
      • sodium benzoate
        • Preservative
      • sodium lauryl sulfate
        • Emulsifier
      • stearic acid
        • Fatty acid
      • Sucrose
      • titanium dioxide
        • Food coloring
      • white wax

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

    • Ibuprofen
      • Chemical Compound
      • C13H18O2
      • It is the actual pain relieving drug in Advil. It is a solid propionic acid derivative, and works by attacking prostaglandins that are producing the pain.
    • Sucrose
      • Disaccharide Sugar
      • C12H22O11
      • The famous sugar coating on the Advil, giving it a sweet taste. It is made of glucose and sucrose which are monosaccharides.

Chemistry's Role

Pain is caused when prostaglandins produce too many white blood cells at an injured area. The ibuprofen in Advil reduces the activity in the enzyme cyclooxygenase, which synthesizes the prostaglandins, resulting in less white blood cells, which reduces swelling and pain.

Background Research

Ibuprofen was discovered in 1961 by Stewart Adams when it was derived from propionic acid, and originally called Brufen. Adams found it while working with a group who was set out to find a safer alternative for aspirin. Adams first tested it to see if it could cure his hangover, before launching it as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. It was first sold in 1969 in the UK and then in 1974 in the US. When it first came to the US it was sold by the name Advil.


About the Author

Nolan Askelson is a junior at Billings Senior High School. He enjoys watching and playing all sports. He was a starter on the state champion Senior football team. He also plays baseball for the Emmanuel Baptist Church Halos. He enjoys learning in school, but is especially fond of math.