Swallowing a VIBRATING capsule could relieve constipation by stimulating stomach contractions and speeding up digestion
Medication is programmed to vibrate in a patient’s large intestine
Taking the capsule doubles the number of bowel movements versus placebo
If studies confirm its effectiveness, the capsule may be available in three years
Swallowing a vibrating capsule could relieve chronic constipation, research suggests.
The medication, programmed to vibrate in the large intestine, stimulates stomach contractions and helps to move digestion along.
Taking the capsule, which is the size of a fish-oil supplement, just five times a week doubles the number of bowel movements a constipation sufferer has, a study found.
If larger studies confirm the capsule’s safety and effectiveness, the medication could be available in just three years’ time, according to scientists from Augusta University, Georgia.
The researchers, led by Dr Satish Rao, tested the capsule in two studies with a total of 245 people suffering from chronic constipation.
The participants took five tablets a week for two months. Each capsule was taken just before bed.
Half of the participants were given capsules that contained electric mechanisms that were programmed to vibrate at different frequencies once they reached the large intestine.
These tablets, manufactured by the Israeli company Vibrant, vibrated for either one or two 2.5-hour periods during the 24 hours after they were swallowed.
They were usually excreted between one and two days later.
The remaining participants took non-vibrating placebos.
Results showed the participants who took the vibrating capsules had twice as many bowel movements per week as those having the placebo.
These bowel movements tended to occur shortly after the tablets were programmed to vibrate, New Scientist reported.
Most of the participants were unaware of the vibrating sensation and suffered no major side effects, Dr Rao said.
The findings will be presented at the American College of Gastroenterology conference later this week.
The researchers are planning to investigate the capsule’s ability to relieve constipation in a larger study starting next January.
Constipation affects around 42 million people in the US and 6.5 million in the UK.
Common causes include not eating enough fibre, such as fruit and vegetables, or drinking enough water.
Lack of exercise, stress and a side effect of medication can also be to blame.
This comes after previous research by the University of Tennessee suggested people who are constipated are 13 percent more likely to develop kidney disease.