There’s an Optimal Way to Take a Pill



If your answer to “how do you take a pill?” is “with water,” it may be time to make your process a little more sophisticated. Johns Hopkins University researchers explored how your posture when taking a pill impacts the body’s absorption of the medication. It turns out there’s an optimal position should you want that absorption to occur as quickly as possible: lying down on your right side. The researchers used a computational model of the human stomach to simulate a pill’s progress to the intestine. That’s key, because as a press release explains, “Most pills do not start working until the stomach ejects their contents into the intestine,” so the closer a pill lands to the lower part of the stomach, the better.

“If you’re aiming a pill for this part of the stomach, posture is critical to both gravity and the natural asymmetry of the stomach,” per the release. And as the Washington Post notes, “For most humans, with rare exceptions, the stomach hooks to the right as it connects to the intestine.” The study published in August in the journal Physics of Fluids found that it took only 10 minutes for the pill to dissolve when it was taken while lying on the right side. That was better than standing or sitting upright (23 minutes) and lying on your back (about the same), and far better than lying on your left side (100 minutes). Some caveats: The models assumed the stomach contained one type of liquid and no food; researchers used one type of solid pill; and some pills specify they should be taken while upright. (Read more discoveries stories.)

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