There's nothing fun about feeling backed up. Constipation is a health problem that impacts nearly four million people in the US, and it doesn't discriminate based on age groups. For those who experience chronic constipation, the condition can be extremely uncomfortable, but a new development promises relief.
A medication called Vibrant became available for doctors to prescribe this week after being approved by the Food and Drug Administration in August 2022. The name of the pill is actually indicative of what it does: the capsules don't release medication but instead vibrate once swallowed to stimulate the colon.
Sound too good to be true? Well, read on to learn more about the vibrating constipation medication, including how Vibrant works, how to get Vibrant, and Vibrant's side effects.
How Does Vibrant Work?
Vibrant is designed to be taken once daily. Before taking, you place the Vibrant capsule in a pod for activation, according to the medication's website. Then, you ingest the pill — which is about the size of a regular capsule pill, CNN reports — with a glass a water.
It's meant to be taken around bedtime. Once ingested, the capsule begins to gently vibrate in order to stimulate the colon, as it makes its way through your digestive system, eventually reaching the small intestine. There, the vibrations "stimulate specialised nerve cells in the gut called mechanosensory cells. These help trigger peristalsis, the undulating muscle contractions that help squeeze food through the gut," CNN reports.
The disposable capsule with then be expelled with your next bowel movement. (Then, you flush it; it's not meant to be reusable, thank goodness.)
If you're concerned about the vibrations, experts say they are not long lasting and can be barely felt, if at all. "There are little vibrations for three seconds on, three seconds off," Cathy Collis, chief commercial officer for Vibrant Gastro, told CNN.
Important to note: Vibrant is not a cure. But based on clinical studies, patients saw results, including more frequent spontaneous bowel movements, within one to eight weeks of treatment, per the Vibrant website.
However, the treatment was not evaluated beyond eight weeks, "thus you should evaluate the treatment progress with your physician," Vibrant says.
What Are the Side Effects of Vibrant?
The product, as cleared by the FDA, had to undergo plenty of testing before it reached the market, including demonstrating "that there were no toxic materials in the pills and that they could withstand, for example, the force of a bite in case someone accidentally bit them," CNN reports.
As far as side effects are concerned, the company reports no severe adverse events. But it does list nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, abdominal distension (swollen abdomen), abdominal discomfort, vomiting, blood in stool, flatulence (passing gas), and proctalgia (pain due to a spasm of the pelvic floor muscles) as possible side effects. In rare cases, Vibrant adds, obstruction may occur.
How Do You Access Vibrant?
Vibrant is a prescription-only treatment, and physicians will recommend it based on your individual medical needs and health history. It is not currently covered by insurance, but the company is offering a coupon to help cut down on out-of-pocket costs to $69 per month, per CNN.