How to take a difficult pill?

Tips on how to swallow a large capsule with a scientific view!

It’s bound that at one time or another we are recommended to take our vitamins and minerals in pill or capsule form. Living this fast paced day-to-day lifestyle we now live, it can get hard at times to ensure our fruits and vegetables intake is at the level that we need it to be.

This is where taking an easy to swallow supplement comes into play. Whether you're taking vitamin b12, antioxidants or any other pill, it can be difficult to consume depending on the size. 

Tricks on how to swallow pills

With smaller tablets it is easy: open up, pop the pill in, head slightly to the back and take with water with additional water to drink to move it down. But how to swallow bigger tablets and capsules? And let’s be honest, some of them are not the smallest. Which sometimes leads to us stopping to take the remedies regularly as directed as it is not a pleasant experience or causes choking reflexes and even nausea.   

You are not alone. Almost every third person has problems with swallowing tablets.  More than half of them refuse to take their medication and remedies or only sporadically and hence not the correct amount as they avoid taking their remedies. The reasons are sometimes smaller mouth cavity, extreme sensitivity to taste or high choking reflex.  

Sometimes individuals try to cut the tablets in smaller portions or even ground the remedies- but this method cannot be applied to every medication, and it might even affect its efficacy.  And what would you do with capsules, especially the enteric coated ones which need to bypass the stomach acidity and get absorbed in the intestine? Or what to do with the taste?  

There are however two tricks which you can try to make swallowing bigger capsules or tablets easier.  It is important to check if it is a tablet or a capsule beforehand and try the right method for it.  

Pills and tablets: swallow easier with the Pop-Bottle-Technik   drinking capsule

You would need a bottle with a sucking lid on it.  Place the pill on the tongue and close the mouth around the opening of the lid. Drink with a strong suction out of the bottle while you have the head slightly tipped to the back. As the tablet is heavier than water it will be streamed down the oesophagus.  

Capsules and the Capsule-Bow method  

It’s different with capsules as they are lighter than water and swim in the water when you try to swallow.  That’s why with capsules you would need a glass of water.  Pop the capsule in your mouth, take a bit of water, tip your head down, chin to the chest, and then swallow.  This method has also been called the Lean-Forward method. You can follow up with another sip of water if needed to move the capsule down your throat.  

The two methods were tested in a study in the University of Heidelberg, Germany, led by Prof. Dr. Walter Haefeli.  Around 151 participants, between 18 to 85,  joined the study to swallow tablets and capsules of various sizes- obviously the capsules and tablets didn’t have any active ingredients. At first, they were supposed to take the remedies as they usually are used to. After they were advised to take the remedies using the two methods respectively if tablets or capsules. swallowing capsule

About two third of the participants reported to be able to take even the bigger sizes of tablets and capsules were easy and about 90% of the study participants were able to swallow tablets and capsules up to 2 cm length without any problems.   

Important to know 

Take your remedies while your upper body is upright (for example if you are sick and in bed, elevate the upper body before taking the remedies).  While and after you have taken the pills, drink more water to help to move down the tablets and capsules.  

Drinking plenty of water to help guide the pill to the intestine. Staying hydrated is important when taking supplements to help let the capsule do its job.

*Please be advised that the two methods are not recommended if there are conditions present due to an illness which make swallowing not possible.  





Pascoe Canada does not offer health or medical advice as we are not a healthcare practitioner. Please speak with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any program related to nutrition, diet, exercise, fitness, medical, and/or wellness. All content published by Pascoe Canada is developed through collaborating with licensed medical professionals and contributors. This includes text, graphics, images, and other material on the website, newsletter, and products (“Content”). This content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The content does not substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always do your own research on whether this is for you along with your healthcare practitioner advice. Always consult your healthcare practitioner prior to using specific herbs because you might have underlying conditions that need professional care. The content is general in nature and is subject to change. It is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects.



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