Vibrating capsule treats constipation by buzzing the intestine
By Ben Coxworth
May 8, 2014
According to Dr. Yishai Ron, a researcher at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, nearly half of the people who take medication for chronic constipation are unsatisfied with the results. That dissatisfaction can stem from unwanted side effects, concerns over the long-term safety of the medication, or "the fact that it simply doesn’t work." That's why he and his colleagues have created an oral capsule that relieves constipation by vibrating its way along the intestinal tract.
The capsule contains a tiny motor, that is programmed to start vibrating six to eight hours after being swallowed – this gives it enough time to reach the large intestine. Once it starts up, the vibrations reportedly stimulate the intestine into contracting, which in turn helps move stools through.
In a clinical trial, 26 constipated test subjects first went for two weeks without taking any laxatives, and then began swallowing the capsules twice a week. After a period of doing so, they reported an average of two to four additional bowel movements per week, along with a reduction in symptoms such as difficulty in passing stools or incomplete evacuation.
Dr. Ron and his team now plan on conducting a double blind study. He recently presented his findings at the Digestive Disease Week conference in Chicago.
"Sometimes, drug therapies bring more issues than relief for these patients," he said. "The results of this study point to the potential for an alternative treatment that avoids the typical drug side effects, such as bloating and electrolyte imbalance, by imitating the body’s natural physiology."