How you stand or sit after ingesting oral medications can decrease the absorption time of the drugs by more than half, a new study by Johns Hopkins University finds, potentially impacting the effectiveness or danger associated with certain medications, the Washington Post reports.
Subject patients in an experiment who sat or stood upright after taking a pill by mouth took an average of 23 minutes to absorb the medication in the pill, but people who leaned or rested on their right side took just 10 minutes to have the same results. However, people who leaned or rested on their left sides took ten times that amount of time–more than 100 minutes–to absord the medications.
The findings may help patients who have adverse reactions to some medications tolerate those medications better by allowing patients to slow the introduction of the medication into the systems, the study suggests. The study may also help to shape patient care and drug manufacturing to regulate the absorption of medications, as well as suggest ways for in-patient care providers to reduce complications in hospitals.
Researchers found that due to human anatomy, patients who leaned to their left after taking medications saw a slower absorption rate thanks to the shape of the stomach and gravity. In the vast majority of humans, the stomach attaches to intestines on the right side; the stomach helps to break down what a person ingests so it can be more easily digested by the intestines.
People leaning or lying on their right sides allow the material broken down by the stomach to easily enter the intestines thanks to gravity, hastening absorption; left-leaners make the material fight gravity to get up into the intestines, slowing the rate of absorption.
The study provides guidance for doctors in how they might better prescribe medications for patients with disabilities or who are bedridden, as well as directions for their activities after taking medications. Not only could it reduce intestinal irritation, but it also could improve the effectiveness of certain medications and reduce clinical complications.