Gluten-Free Pain Relievers List

Painkiller boxes with gluten free label from target

Jane M. Anderson

For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, going gluten-free usually tames many small aches and pains (and even large ones). But that doesn't mean we don't occasionally require an over-the-counter pain reliever ... and when we do, that pain reliever needs to be gluten-free.

But which ones are safe on the gluten-free diet? Some manufacturers include wheat gluten or wheat starch as an inert filler or ingredient in both prescription and non-prescription medications. The FDA says it expects such manufacturers to label wheat as an ingredient in those cases. However, some derivatives of wheat starch, like sodium starch glycolate, may be more difficult for consumers to recognize as potentially having gluten. It can be difficult to tell just by reading the packaging in the drug store which medications are safe.

Common Gluten-Free Pain Relievers

However, calling them and asking usually produces answers. In addition, there are several chains—Target, CVS, and Walgreens among them—that have begun labeling their generic drug products "gluten-free."

Here's the list of common brand-name pain relievers available in the U.S., plus what their manufacturers say about their gluten-free status:


This ibuprofen-containing pain reliever comes in four varieties: Advil, Advil Dual Action, Advil Liqui-Gels, and Advil Migraine. According to the company, "Advil Liqui-Gels and Advil Migraine contain a wheat derivative, and are not gluten-free." It's not clear whether regular Advil and/or Advil Dual Action products are produced in the same facility, which would subject them to gluten cross-contamination.


Aleve's active ingredient is naproxen sodium. The product's manufacturer, Bayer Healthcare L.L.C., says in a statement that "we do not add any gluten to our products. However, we cannot guarantee that they are 100% gluten-free as this product is produced in a facility that manufactures or packages other items which may contain gluten."

These products could be made on the same equipment, according to a customer service representative.

Bayer Aspirin

Bayer Healthcare's statement for Aleve also applies to Bayer aspirin—the products are produced in a facility that may also process gluten, and they could be made on the same equipment as gluten-containing products.


Many of this drugstore chain's acetaminophen products are labeled gluten-free and are not manufactured on shared equipment, according to the company. Look for the "gluten-free" designation on the packaging.


These products, made by Reckitt, really are aimed at people with coughs, colds, and the flu, but some formulations of Mucinex do include pain relief and headache relief ingredients. According to the company, Mucinex, Mucinex DM, and Mucinex D contain no gluten ingredients, but "we do not test for or certify them to be gluten-free."

St. Joseph

The maker of Tylenol, McNeil-PPC, Inc. (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), used to market aspirin products under the St. Joseph name. Two St. Joseph products used to appear on Tylenol's formerly extensive gluten-free list, but since the St. Joseph brand was sold to Ilex Consumer Products Group in 2011, its products can no longer be looked up on that list.


I was delighted recently when shopping in my local Target to find a multitude of Target's store brand ("Up") pain reliever products marked "gluten-free." The gluten-free products include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen sodium.

Note that not all Up brand pain relievers are marked "gluten-free"—notable exceptions in my store included specific sizes of ibuprofen, plus naproxen sodium caplets (the tablets are marked gluten-free).

So buyer beware and check the packaging every time ... but these offer a real, safe, easy-to-find option for us.


Tylenol, with its active ingredient acetaminophen, may be the best-known pain relief and headache relief treatment available over-the-counter. Previously, Tylenol had distributed a long list of products it considered gluten-free.

However, manufacturer McNeil-PPC retracted that list and instead issued this statement: "Although we don't add gluten or gluten containing grains to our products, we cannot confirm that the product or any ingredients in TYLENOL products are gluten free. Your safety is of great concern to us; therefore, we strongly recommend that you first consult your doctor before using any product if you have a form of gluten intolerance or sensitivity."


We've seen generic store brand ibuprofen and acetaminophen labeled as "gluten-free" at Walgreens. In addition, I've seen generic versions of other medications (day and night cold/flu medications, for example) carrying a gluten-free designation. Be careful what you buy, though, as some appear to be gluten-free while others are not.


It is possible to find "gluten-free" on the packaging of Walmart house brand pain relievers, but be very careful what you purchase. This label was only seen on one size of generic ibuprofen, so most appear to not be safe at this time.

A Word From Verywell

Yes, many of us enjoy the cost savings we can see from buying the store brand of an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or naproxen sodium. However, stores can change suppliers at will for their over-the-counter drug products, and a generic medication that once was gluten-free can shift into unsafe status without any warning or notice to the consumer. Always check the label!

Gluten-free labeling on packages of generic pain relievers is becoming much more common in various chain stores. But I can't stress this enough (which is why I'm mentioning it again): Make sure to check the packaging every single time you buy a product, even if it appears to be exactly the same thing you bought last week.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Jordan R, Shannahan S, Lewis SK, et al. The impact of acid suppression medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on clinical and histologic features in celiac disease. Dig Liver Dis. 2017;49(8):883-886. doi:10.1016/j.dld.2017.03.018

  2. Food and Drug Administration. Gluten in Drug Products and Associated Labeling Recommendations: Guidance for Industry.

Additional Reading

By Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson is a medical journalist and an expert in celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and the gluten-free diet.