Uncomfortable cramping and bloating are just some of the symptoms that the millions suffering from constipation, the most common health disorder, experience. In fact over 42 million Americans, one-seventh of the population of the United States, are affected by the symptoms, pain and discomfort associated with constipation, a blocked up reality that can continue for weeks and even years.
However, there is good news on the horizon. A new treatment in the form of a vibrating pill-size capsule may serve to alleviate chronic constipation, as demonstrated by a new pilot study from researchers led by Dr. Yishai Ron of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Tel Aviv University-affiliated Sourasky Medical Center. The team presented its findings last month at the Digestive Disease Week convention in Chicago.
In order to get things moving, the capsule developed by a company called Vibrant, houses a small engine which is programmed to begin vibrating six to eight hours after ingestion. After the pill is swallowed just like any other laxative, it begins to mechanically stimulate contractions in the intestines, facilitating the movement of stool through the digestive tract.
According to the study, the vibrating capsule was found to nearly double the weekly bowel movements of patients suffering from chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) and constipation predominant irritable bowel syndrome (C-IBS). The innovative non-drug therapy may offer a solution for anyone who suffers from chronic constipation but finds laxatives, fiber drinks, enemas, and other standard treatments unhelpful or uncomfortable.
A vibrating alternative to medicine
“Despite the widespread use of medication to treat constipation, nearly 50 percent of patients are unsatisfied with the treatment either because of side effects, safety concerns about long-term use, or the fact that it simply doesn’t work,” Dr. Ron told “Science Daily”.
In the study, 26 patients took the vibrating capsule twice each week and responded to a questionnaire about their daily bowel movements and laxative use. Study participants reported an increase in spontaneous bowel movements from two to four times per week, as well as a decrease in constipation symptoms, including reduced difficulty in passing stools and incomplete evacuation. The study also found minimal side effects from the capsule use.
“Sometimes, drug therapies bring more issues than relief for these patients,” Dr. Ron 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.”
Dr. Ron and his team plan to initiate a controlled, double-blind study to expand on these findings and further explore the capsule’s potential. Relief may have finally arrived.