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This Pill Vibrates Your Colon to Combat Constipation

February 21, 2023

Sometimes you just need good vibrations to get things moving. A first-of-its-kind capsule that vibrates after it’s swallowed to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and treat constipation is now approved for doctors to prescribe. The capsule, called Vibrant, is about the size of a regular pill. Is this treatment actually worth looking into for the 16 percent of Americans who live with persistent constipation? Amir Masoud, MD, a St. Vincent’s Medical Center gastroenterologist who is also co-medical director of Hartford HealthCare's Neurogastroenterology & Motility Center, shares his perspective. > Connect with the Neurogastroenterology & Motility Center

What's the science behind it?

Vibrant is a single pill that you take around bedtime daily. Slowly, it travels through the stomach and small intestine before finally reaching the colon several hours later. The vibrations from the pill stimulate specialized nerve cells in the gut. These help trigger peristalsis - the muscle contractions that move food through the gut. “This is a very intelligent piece of technology,” says Dr. Masoud. “It taps into something that we’ve known for over a hundred years, which is that the best way to stimulate the intestine is mechanically.”

How exactly does it work?

Before use, each pill is activated in a little pod that turns it on. After you swallow the pill, it's active for about two hours, goes quiet for around six hours, and then activates again for another two hours. Eventually, the pill exits the body along with a bowel movement. “The idea is that those two periods of vibration can stimulate the GI tract and lead to an effective bowel movement,” Dr. Masoud says. “Because each capsule has its own self-limited activity, it is something you would need to take every day.” Currently, insurance does not cover Vibrant, but the company is offering a coupon to cap out-of-pocket costs at $69 per month. Want more health news? Text StartHere to 85209 to sign up for text alerts

What qualifies as constipation?

Constipation is when someone has fewer than three bowel movements in a week and it deviates from their norm. Between 10% and 20% of Americans live with persistent constipation that doesn’t have a clear cause, according to a recent survey. They tend to have hard and dry stools that may cause pain and bloating.