When you take a pill for that headache, lie down on your right side. Here’s why, according to Johns Hopkins researchers.

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

When you have a pounding headache, it can be rough waiting for the pain meds to kick in. So don’t wait too long, say researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The scientists took a look at the fastest way, using gravity and anatomy, to position your body to get the drugs out of your stomach and into your intestines and to work. The verdict: Lie on your right side.


The researchers tested several postures and found lying on your right side sends pills to the deepest part of the stomach where they dissolve at a rate 2.3 times faster than the upright position.

Pills take 10 minutes to dissolve lying on the right side, 23 minutes to dissolve when upright and 100 minutes when lying on the left side.


“We were very surprised that posture had such an immense effect on the dissolution rate of a pill,” said Rajat Mittal, a Johns Hopkins engineer and an expert in fluid dynamics who was senior author on the study, published in Physics of Fluids.

Lying on your right side assures a pill goes to the lowest point in your stomach and dissolves more quickly, according to research at Johns Hopkins University.

“I never thought about whether I was doing it right or wrong,” Mittal said, “but now I’ll definitely think about it every time I take a pill.”

To do the test, the research team created a model to represent the workings of several organs in the body called StomachSim. It mimics the process of digesting food or medicine using physics, biomechanics and fluid mechanics. Pills don’t start working until they leave the stomach for the intestines, so the closer the pill is to the last part of the stomach, called the antrum, the better.

Hence, your mother was right, posture matters.