The Surprising Way to Get a Pill to Kick In Faster

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

If you have a bad headache and really want the pain reliever to kick in fast, it probably will in about 10 minutes if you are in the right position. If you are in the wrong position, however, it might take a… Very. Long. Time.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University discovered this after creating a computer model called “StomachSims” which mimics what happens in the stomach as it digests food and medicine. Blending physics, biomechanics, and fluid mechanics, StomachSims was able to determine that most medication does not start working until it reaches the intestine. Therefore, due to gravity and the stomach’s asymmetrical shape, the position our body is in when we take medication has a significant impact on where the pill will land and begin its journey through our system.
Out of the four body postures tested, the one that got it closest to the lowest part of the stomach dissolved the pill in 10 minutes. The next two came in at 23 minutes with the final position taking a whopping 100 minutes to dissolve the pill!
The four postures
  1. Standing upright
  2. Lying straight back
  3. Lying on the right side
  4. Lying on the left side
Which would you put your money on? (Answers are at the bottom. Force yourself not to look til you make your choice.)
The implications of the study findings are significant and have even more significance for people who don’t have a properly functioning gut in the first place due to diabetes or Parkinson’s, for example, according to lead author Jae Ho “Mike” Lee, a former postdoctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins.
How surprising is this finding?
According to Rajat Mittal, the study’s lead researcher, “The team was very surprised that posture had such an immense effect on the dissolution rate of the pill.” Never having thought about whether he was doing it right or wrong, Mittal will now, “definitely think about it every time I take a pill.”
ANSWER KEY: The best and worst body positions for taking a pill in rank order
  1. Lying on the right side – 10 minutes
  2. Standing upright – 23 minutes
  3. Lying straight back – 23 minutes
  4. Lying on the left side – 100 minutes
  5. Standing on your head – Possibly never
To research and never-ending surprises,