An easy-to-swallow vibrating capsule that relieves chronic constipation could offer a solution to the laxative shortage in the United States.
The device, called Vibrant, helps move things in the body by sending pulses to stimulate natural movements in the intestine.
As small as popular fish oil supplements, the device is swallowed with water and moves along the digestive tract. Vibrant contains a small microchip programmed to begin vibrating approximately 14 hours after being ingested, when the pill will have reached the large intestine.
Traditional treatment for constipation usually includes laxatives, medications that work by stimulating the muscles of the intestine or increasing the amount of water in the intestine to soften stool and aid the digestive process.
These are not cures for constipation nor are they designed for long-term use, which can actually cause other health problems.
Additionally, its overuse among Americans has led to recent shortages.
Vibrant was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in fall 2022 for the treatment of chronic constipation of no known cause, specifically in adults who have not experienced relief of their bowel symptoms through the use of therapies. laxatives for at least a month. .
The capsule was available for doctors to prescribe to patients in the spring, and patients took the capsule every night before bed.
A month’s supply costs between $69 and $89, depending on a person’s medical benefits, and the manufacturer, Vibrant Gastro, is working with insurance companies to cover its treatment.
Vibrant Gastro has stressed that the capsule is not a drug, but a small device that mechanically helps the intestine to function normally through microvibrations.
Before swallowing the Vibrant capsule, it is inserted into a base unit that programs it to activate at a set time the next day.
It is then swallowed with an eight-ounce glass of water. The vibrating capsule sends pulsed, timed microvibrations into the colon to stimulate the colon walls and get everything moving steadily and in a predictable time, so users aren’t surprised by a sudden bowel movement.
In clinical trials, only 1.2 percent of patients experienced diarrhea, a common and unplanned side effect of laxative use.
Developed by an Israeli manufacturer, the capsule is tracked on the patient’s body via a smartphone app, which records their progress and the number of bowel movements produced.
Chronic constipation affects one in five people and is more common in women aged 40 or older. Rates are 30 percent higher in people of color
Each capsule lasts one day and then leaves the body naturally and is flushed down the toilet.
In a previous clinical trial, some users said they could feel the capsule’s vibrations during cycles, but no side effects were reported.
The trial results suggested that Vibrant can double the number of weekly bowel movements in people suffering from constipation.
Chronic constipation affects one in five people and is more common in women aged 40 or older. Rates are 30 percent higher in people of color.
Common causes include not eating enough fruits and vegetables, which contain fiber, and not drink enough water. Lack of exercise, stress, and the side effects of some medications can also be to blame.
Doctors sometimes recommend fiber supplements to help treat constipation, which add bulk to stool and make it easier to pass, but can cause pain from excess gas and bloating.
When a high-fiber diet doesn’t work and people turn to laxatives, which can be easy to overuse and rely on. Users then end up dealing with side effects, including sudden-onset diarrhea.
Other effects of excessive laxative use include kidney damage, dehydration, abdominal pain, electrolyte imbalance, and laxative dependence, meaning a person will no longer be able to defecate without laxatives.
Vibrant Gastro CEO John Schellhorn told DailyMail.com that the company has seen a substantial number of inquiries from doctors about the capsule, as more and more people seem willing to talk to their doctors about this condition.
Constipation has long been considered a “silent symptom” that is rarely mentioned for fear of embarrassment, Schellhorn said, but greater openness, including the rise of #GutTok, a hashtag on TikTok under which users talk about your intestinal health, has helped shed light on the problem.
In addition to improving people’s gut health, Vibrant could also address the high demand for laxatives, which is causing a shortage.
In the United States, demand is beginning to exceed supply for polyethylene glycol 3350, the generic name for laxatives such as Miralax and Glycolax.
Part of the blame is an aging population with more digestive problems, along with the fact that most Americans generally do not consume enough fiber, a substance that makes it easier to pass stool.
The lingering effects of the pandemic, which caused people’s healthy diets to fall by the wayside and Americans to exercise less (all of which contribute to gut dysfunction), could also be at play.
Remote and hybrid work could also be to blame, as more and more people follow these work schedules, resulting in irregular eating and bathroom times.