What is strength What are its functions

StrengthAuxiliary materialsCarbohydrates Starch is a polysaccharide and a carbohydrate that consists of D-glucose units that are α-glycosidically bonded to one another. It is obtained, among other things, from tubers and the closing fruits of grasses, for example from potatoes, maize, rice and wheat. It serves as an energy store for the plants. Starch is found in staple foods such as flour, bread and cereals and is used to make processed foods such as sauces, soups and doughs. It has binding, swelling, stabilizing and thickening properties. Used in pharmacy as an excipient like starch.

synonymous: amylum, amyla


Starch is available as a basic substance in grocery stores (e.g. Maizena®, Epifin®), pharmacies and drugstores, among others.

Structure and properties

Starch is a polysaccharide and a carbohydrate, which consists of D-glucose units that are α-glycosidically linked to one another. It contains amylopectin (about 70%) and amylose (about 30%), which are structured differently. Amylose consists of unbranched chains, whereas amylopectin is branched.

Starch is usually obtained from tubers or the closing fruits of grasses (caryopses). Typical examples are potato starch (Solani amylum), corn starch (Maydis amylum), rice starch (Oryzae amylum) and wheat starch (Tritici amylum). Another example is cassava starch. The starch serves as an energy store for the plants. It roughly corresponds to the glycogen in humans.

Starch comes as an odorless and tasteless powder that crunches when rubbed between the fingers. It is practically insoluble in cold water.

Chemical structure of starch (amylose), click to enlarge. Illustration © PharmaWiki


Starch has binding, swelling, stabilizing and thickening properties. When warm water is added, it forms a viscous solution that solidifies into a gel or paste when it cools. In the mouth and intestines, the starch is broken down by the enzyme amylase.

Hydrolysis of a glycosidic bond of a starch by a β-amylase, click to enlarge. Illustration © PharmaWiki

Areas of application (selection)
  • Starches are found in numerous foods, for example in wheat, corn and potatoes. They are part of staple foods like flour, bread, and cereals.
  • For the production of processed foods, for example for the preparation of sauces, creams and soups, for shortcrust and biscuit dough, for meat, baby food and for beer production.
  • As a pharmaceutical adjuvant, for example as a filler, as a disintegrant, as a binder, as an ointment base.
unwanted effects

Starch has a high calorific value of around 360 to 380 kcal per 100 g.

see also

Carbohydrates, glucose, corn starch, potato starch, pregelatinized starch, amylases

  • Medicinal product information (CH)
  • European Pharmacopoeia PhEur
  • Food technology manuals
  • Manufacturer information
  • Pharmaceutical Technology Textbooks

Conflicts of Interest: None / Independent. The author has no relationships with the manufacturers and is not involved in the sale of the products mentioned.

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This article was last changed on 10/21/2020.
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