Have You Been Taking Pills Wrong? Here’s What Science Says.
Teddy Amenabar and Aaron Steckelberg - The Washington Post
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September 24, 2022

The next time you take a pain reliever for that headache, you may want to consider your posture.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found whether you’re standing upright or leaning, as well as which side you’re leaning to, could affect how fast the contents of a pill are absorbed into your body.

The bottom line: leaning to your right side after swallowing a pill could speed absorption by about 13 minutes, compared to staying upright. Leaning to the left would be a mistake — it could slow absorption by more than an hour.

Standing or sitting up straight is “still an excellent way” to take a pill, said Rajat Mittal, a Johns Hopkins engineer and the senior author of the study. But, if you’re lying down after taking a pill, turning to your right side could significantly speed up the rate at which the drug is going to be absorbed by your body, Mittal said.

Mittal and a team of researchers created a computational model of the human stomach to test what happens when people take pills while in four postures.

The model simulated a pill’s journey through the stomach to the intestine.

In the simulations, which Mittal said required about two weeks each to compute, the researchers found it took 23 minutes for the pill to dissolve while sitting upright.

While leaning to the right side it took just 10 minutes.

However, leaning to the left side it took more than 100 minutes. There was a tenfold difference between the best and worst positions, Mittal said.

A person’s posture affected the rate of dissolution of the pills in the simulations for two reasons: the inherent shape of the stomach and gravity. For most humans, with rare exceptions, the stomach hooks to the right as it connects to the intestine, and any food or liquid in the stomach isn’t absorbed until it reaches the intestines. The researchers found that when gravity works with the natural pathway from the stomach to the intestines, the pill traveled at a faster rate toward the intestines, and absorption.

The study doesn’t mean you should lean to the right or lie down every time you take a pill. Some drugs, particularly those that cause gastrointestinal side effects, come with instructions to stay upright after taking them. And drug manufacturers typically assume you’re upright when you swallow a pill.

Read the rest at The Washington Post

Related: When Swallowing Pills Is Difficult and How to Do It Better (The Washington Post)

Notice: This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.

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