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What Are Ceuticals?

By Alex Burke ; Updated July 27, 2017

Ceuticals include a range of products that are designed to work in or on the body. Ceuticals support the idea of “self-care,” that is, managing personal health in order to improve or restore the body, or treat or prevent disease. Ceuticals are not always prescribed products but are often available over-the-counter as supplements or topical applications.

Defining Ceuticals

The use of the word “ceuticals” indicates a reference to a product that holds medicinal or medical properties. These products may be manufactured substances or organic substances and may or may not be regulated by law. Ceuticals are referenced in the skincare industry, the health and fitness industry, the food industry and the drug and medical industry.


Pharmaceuticals are medications or medicinal drugs. The industry creating these drugs is called the pharmaceutical industry. The term pharmaceutical, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, was originated in 1881. Medicinal drugs can contain natural substances, man-made chemicals or a combination of both. Pharmaceuticals encompass radiopharmaceuticals (radioactive drugs often used in treatments for cancer), biopharmaceuticals (biologically derived drugs) and psychopharmaceuticals (drugs used to treat psychosis).


Nutraceuticals, also spelled nutriceuticals, are described as functional foods or supplements. Nutraceuticals contain food elements that have been shown to have a physiological or medicinal effect on the body. Instead of eating the food containing the medicinal properties, the element in the food is removed, re-engineered and put into a capsule or powdered form for consumption. Examples are resveratrol found in red grapes, which is an anti-oxidant, and sulforaphane, which is found in broccoli and believed to be helpful in fighting cancer.


The term cosmeceutical is a marketing term that refers to a topical product (creams, lotions, gels, ointments, shampoo) that claims to have both cosmetic and medicinal properties. The active ingredients found in cosmeceuticals are often vitamins, anti-oxidants, essential oils or phytochemicals and enzymes. Cosmeceuticals are loosely regulated under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). FFDCA does not require prior approval, testing or proof of a products safety and only becomes involved if the product is proven to be harmful after it is used by the public.

The FDA And Ceuticals

Pharmaceutical industry regulation began in 1906 through the passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act. Further regulations were instated with the passing of the FDA Modernization Act of 1997. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) was created in response to the vitamin nutraceutical industry. DSHEA requires the industry to create a safe product before it reaches the public but does not regulate the manufacturing process. The legislation further requires manufacturers to make claims based only on statements made by government or government recognized scientific bodies. The labeling of these products must only make claims defining structure and function (calcium helps build bones) and cannot make claims about curing an ailment.

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