Posture Makes a Difference in Pill Time to Action

Engineers at the Johns Hopkins School of Engineering have been creating models of human organs to investigate the way to make them most efficient. Recently they used an artificial human stomach to determine if our position at the time of swallowing a pill makes a difference in the time until onset of action of the medication. Most experts agree that oral medication doesn’t start to work until the material leaves the stomach and moves to the small intestine. For prime efficiency you want the pills to land in the distal portion of the stomach or antrum. You can achieve this by lying on your right side.

Their studies, published in Physics of Fluids, showed that dissolution was quicker by lying on your right side. Your left side was significantly slower. Being upright fell somewhere in between being on your right or left side. They showed that a person lying on their left side took almost 23 minutes for the material to dissolve and leave the stomach while that time was only 10 minutes on the right side. For patients with diabetic gastroparesis, or Parkinson’s disease, these positional differences may be even more significant.

As a physician prescribing medication for years, I never considered position an issue. Now when I get my headache and want quicker resolution, I will try the different positions and see if it makes a difference.