Vibrating pill helps to keep your digestive tract moving smoothly

People who suffer from chronic constipation often turn to laxatives to get things moving again, but sometimes even that won't do the trick. Now, a new type of pill takes a completely different approach to this human plumbing problem, by physically stimulating the bowel from within to get some action going.

The tiny pill doesn't contain any medicine, but does have a tiny electric motor that makes the entire capsule vibrate. The plugged up patient swallows the pill, which then starts to vibrate about six to eight hours later. By this time, the pill will have gone past the stomach and entered the intestines, where the vibrations stimulate the intestinal walls to begin contractions.

During human testing, the average patient reported their weekly bowel movement count doubled when they used the vibrating capsule, and that passing stools was less likely to be difficult or painful. Researchers from the department of gastroenterology at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center said that the capsules may be a good solution for constipation sufferers who have a difficult time with traditional therapies such as laxatives and enemas.

Constipation is one of the most common digestive health ailments in the United States, affecting as much as 15 percent of the population. Poor diet, dehydration and a lack of exercise are the most common causes, but some prescription drugs can also contribute to the problem.

The Israeli development team presented their findings this week at the oh so fun sounding Digestive Disease Week convention in Chicago. One thing the report didn't make clear is whether the capsule is a single use design, or if it needs to be recovered and reused. I sure hope that it's the former.

CBS News, via CNET

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook