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Ibuprofen Structure.pngIbuprofen Tabs.jpg
Systematic name 2-(4-isobutylphenyl)propanoic acid
Other names Advil
Molecular formula C13H18O2
Molar mass Molar mass::206.274 g/mol
Appearance White solid
CAS number CAS number::15687-27-1
Solubility in water Not soluble in water, but soluble in
other organic solvents such as ethanol.
Melting point Melting point::Between 74-77°C
Boiling point Boiling point::157°C
Dipole moment 4.69 D
MSDS Ibuprofen MSDS
Main hazards Heath hazard
NFPA 704

NFPA 704 svg.png

R/S statement R: 22, 51/53, 63
S: 36/37, 61
RTECS number MU6640000
Related compounds
Related aromatics Naproxen, COX-2 inhibitors
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Disclaimer and references

Ibuprofen is one of the most commonly used painkillers in the world. It was discovered by Dr. Stewart Adams in 1961 while he was trying to find a suitable replacement for aspirin. It is categorized as a NSAID, and can relieve many symptoms including headache, pain, fever, and swelling. Ibuprofen is commonly used by athletes to relieve pains after sports, by hard labor employees whose jobs come with the aches and pain, and many other people throughout the world. The benefits of this drug greatly outweigh the side effects, which are very uncommon. Continued use of the drug, however, increases chances for the more serious side effects.


In addition to the properties listed in the table on the right, [1][2][3] ibuprofen is also a derivative of the propanic acids. It is usually found in a white crystalline powder form, and generally very stable. Ibuprofen is not soluble in water, but in other solutions, such as ethanol, it is very soluble. Ibuprofen's chemical formula can also be written to show the chemical structure: (CH3)2CHCH2C6H4CH(CH3)COOH. Ibuprofen is part of a category called NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It supresses the activity of the cyclooxygenase enzyme, usually abbreviated COX, which convert fatty acids to prostaglandins. These prostaglandins then react to produce increased sensitivity to pain, fever, and inflammation. By stopping this reaction from starting, it reduces pain, fever and inflammation. NSAIDs act differently than corticosteroids, which are the other type of major NSAID. Corticosteroids mimic cortisol, the stress hormone.[4]


Advil, a common form of ibuprofen today.

Ibuprofen does not occur in nature, but is a man-made compound. It was first discovered when Dr. Stewart Adams was trying to find a worthy replacement for aspirin. They tested each new compound by comparing how they treated the erythema caused by an ultra violet light on the skin. Dr. Adams and his colleagues ended up discovering a group of new compounds called phenylalkanoic acids which included the compound ibuprofen. He celebrated his discovery with a night of drinking, and then found out that ibuprofen helped relieve head aches and other hangover symptoms.[5] Ibuprofen soon became a popular painkiller and head ache reliever everywhere. [6]


Ibuprofen is commonly used to treat injuries that have to do with swelling. It is used to treat fevers, headaches, toothaches, back pains, arthritis, menstrual cramps, and other minor injuries. It causes the swelling in an area to be reduced, which in turn reduces the pain. The swelling is interpreted as pain by the brain. It can be used by anyone, but they should consult a doctor if they have any of the following conditions: a history of heart attacks, strokes, or blood clots, heart disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding, asthma, polyps in the nose, liver or kidney disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, a bleeding or clotting disorder, or if they smoke. It is unknown whether or not ibuprofen affects unborn babies, but taking it in the last 3 months of pregnancy can result in birth defects. The maximum human dose is about 800 milligrams/dose, not to exceed 3200 milligrams per day. If more than the maximum dose is taken, some very harmful side effects can occur.[7]

Side effects

A nasty, but very uncommon, side effect of using Ibuprofen for a long time is a stomach ulcer.

There are many possible side effects that can result from ibuprofen, but the most common include: constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, gas, headache, heartburn, nausea, and stomach pain or upset stomach. Even though very few people suffer from these conditions, if they persist for more than a few days, it is time to consult a doctor. More severe side effects are severe allergic reactions, including rash, hives, itching, trouble breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, bloody or black stool, change in the amount of urine produced, chest pain, confusion, dark urine, depression, fainting, fast or irregular heart beat, fever, chills, or persistent sore throat, mental or mood changes, numbness of limbs, weakness in one side of the body, red, swollen, blistering, or peeling skin, ringing in the ears, seizures, severe headache or dizziness, severe or persistent stomach pain or nausea, violent vomiting, shortness of breath, stiff neck, sudden or unexplained weight gain, swelling of hands, legs, or feet, unusual bruising or bleeding, unusual joint or muscle pain, unusual tiredness or weakness, vision or speech changes, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, or yellowing of the eyes or skin.[8] If these side effects occur, you should IMMEDIATELY consult a doctor. The sound of some of these side effects may seem terrible, but very few people experience them. Long term use of the drug can cause severe damage to the kidneys and gastrointestinal system. The kidneys will be affected such that they will change the way they regulate the sodium and water balance. It also causes other damage to them. In the gastrointestinal system, ulcers can appear, which can be even worse if they bleed. Ibuprofen will also influence platelet function and thus adding to bleeding. An example of this would be more bleeding into a torn muscle.[9]


  1. The Chemical Properties of Ibuprofen Leigh A. Zaykoski, April 29, 2009
  2. Ibuprofen Omudhome Ogbru,, Accessed February 16, 2011
  3. Ibuprofen 2 Unknown Author,, Accessed February 16, 2011
  4. The Chemical Properties of Ibuprofen Leigh A. Zaykoski, April 29, 2009
  5. Dr. Adams Interview Victoria Lambert, The Telegraph, October 8, 2007
  6. Discovery of Ibuprofen, acessed on February 16, 2011
  7. Cerner Multum Inc.,, Editted on December 1, 2009
  8. Ibuprofen Side Effects Multiple Authors,
  9. What are the long term effects of Ibuprofen? Username: Meece e,, answered in 2008.