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Chapter 91:2
Non-Critical Illness on Shabbos

2. Any food or beverage that is generally eaten by healthy people ("ma'achal brie'im"), is permitted to be consumed for medicinal purposes ("refuah") on Shabbos; this applies even to items which have some negative side effects on the body, in which case it would be obvious that the person is consuming it as a cure (1).

However, any item which is not generally consumed by healthy people (2), may not be consumed for medicinal purposes (3).

It is permissible to consume herbal juices, or drink a raw egg to make one's voice more pleasant sounding (4). This is not considered medicinal, since one's throat is not sore.

FOOTNOTES:

(1) As we saw in HY 91:1, the Sages prohibited all forms of medical remedy ("refuah") on Shabbos, because if people saw someone being treated medically, they might think that even grinding up the herbs to make the medication is permitted on Shabbos. Grinding ("Tochen") is one of the 39 categories of prohibited creative activity on Shabbos ("Melachos").

We see from today's halacha that the prohibition only applies to things which are only consumed for medicinal purposes; however, items which are consumed by healthy people, are defined as "food" not "medicine," and therefore, are permitted on Shabbos, even in cases where it is clear that the item is being consumed for medicinal purposes (See Mishna Berura 328:117).

(2) And therefore is defined as "medicine" not "food."

(3) This applies to someone who is only slightly ill, however, someone who is experiencing pain over his entire body, or is ill enough to be bedridden, even though the condition is not life-threatening, may take medicine. Also, someone who is not sick at all, may consume an item that is not generally consumed by healthy people, as long as he is not consuming it solely to improve his health (See Mishna Berura 328:120). There is a dispute among contemporary authorities as to whether a healthy person may take vitamins on Shabbos.

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