Researchers at John Hopkins University, in the United States, found that the way a person takes oral medicines, such as painkillers, can make a difference in the speed of their effect. The secret is in the way the person is positioned.
According to them, it is more effective to lie on your right side when taking medication. This will bring faster pain relief. Positioning yourself on the opposite side, however, can significantly delay the pill’s dissolution and effect.
This information is especially true for elderly or bedridden patients.
Various influences on drug absorption
According to the study authors, oral drug administration, while the most common choice, is the most complex way for an active pharmaceutical ingredient to enter and be absorbed by the body. This is because it is influenced by a number of factors such as stomach contents, gastric fluid dynamics and muscle contractions.
“When the pill reaches the stomach, the movement of the stomach walls and the flow of the contents within it determine how quickly it dissolves. The properties of the pill and stomach contents also play an important role,” explained one of the researchers at Johns Hopkins University and author of the study, Rajat Mittal, in the article published in the scientific journal News Medical.
Stomach contractions can induce pressure and generate complex trajectories for pills. This results in varying rates of drug dissolution and non-uniform emptying of drug into the duodenum.
How did you come to the conclusion about the posture?
To assess how each posture can impact the absorption of pharmaceutical actives, the scientists used a simulator based on the realistic anatomy and morphology of the stomach.
Using this computer program simulator, they investigated and quantified the effect of body posture and stomach muscle movement on the amount of drug absorbed for an active effect.
The model was able to calculate how much analgesic active was released in each of the tested positions.
The simulations showed that postural changes can have an effect of up to 83% on pill absorption, according to the study.
According to Professor Mittal, standing when taking a pill is good posture, as the stomach is positioned asymmetrically and this position slides the pills towards the outlet of the stomach.
“If a person lies down to take the pill, due to the asymmetry of the positioning of the stomach, the dissolution of the drug decreases a little compared to the upright position”, he explains.
If a person turns over and lies on the right side, the pill reaches the antral region of the stomach more quickly – this is why lying on the right side of the body speeds up the absorption of the pill.
Lying on the left side, according to the authors, is equivalent to a very serious gastric dysfunction” in terms of the absorption of the pill in the body.