An Easier Pill to Swallow

This topic comes up often as we care for children at Sanctuary Functional Medicine.  Children and sometimes even adults have problems with swallowing tablets and capsules necessary for their health restoration.  Whether it comes from an overactive gag reflex or choking sensations, we have to adapt regimens to fit our patient’s needs.  We usually have liquid options for either our nutraceutical recommendation or our prescriptions, but sometimes we have to create something from our best guesses. While I had not thought about actual research in this field, I am thankful someone is working to make swallowing therapies an easier task for those who require oral therapies to overcome their suffering.

            In the European Journal of Therapeutics, scientists reported on their work studying multiparticle mechanisms of swallowing pills.  By evaluating the sensory stimuli during swallowing, they screened different textures and compositions of liquids to carry the active ingredient.  They evaluated both the ability to swallow and the effectiveness of clearing the therapy from the mouth.  From there they hope to facilitate child friendly medicines and means of evaluating individual children for optimal liquid qualities.

            In the world of functional medicine where we personalize our therapies for each patient and work to equip them with the best fit for their needs and preference, this excites us.  We can already take their stated findings regarding water as a swallowing vehicle and apply to many patients.  Simple, thin water was not the most effective for a pill swallow.  Multiple smaller particles with or without a slightly thicker liquid facilitated swallowing easier.

            As a functional medicine doctor who works a lot with compounding pharmacies to customize dosages and remove extra ingredients like preservatives or dyes for patients, I will be asking my favorite pharmacists what they know about this research.  Finding simple but safe thickeners may ease the application of therapies we know will restore healthier more abundant lives to our patients.


Original Article

Marco Marconati, Felipe Lopez, Catherine Tuleu, Mine Orlu, Marco Ramaioli. In vitro and sensory tests to design easy-to-swallow multi-particulate formulations. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.ejps.2019.02.026


Thanks to Science Daily


University of Surrey. “Innovative lab test to develop easy-to-swallow medicine for children.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2019. <>.

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