How to Stop Your Gag Reflex

Filed Under: Nutritional Support, General Health
Last Reviewed 03/28/2014

If you find it hard to swallow vitamins and supplements, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of Americans have that same difficulty. For most, this difficulty stems from an oversensitive gag reflex.

How to Stop Your Gag Reflex

Tricks to Stop Your Gag Reflex

  1. The next time you take your vitamins, try drinking from a water bottle. Keep your lips pursed and attached to the bottle at all times and use a sucking action to drink. This will trigger an automatic opening of the throat and the natural urge to swallow, allowing the pills to go down smoothly.

  2. Here’s another technique that sounds a bit odd, but it really works. Since most supplements are in capsule form, they are light and buoyant in liquids. Put one or more capsules in your mouth along with a mouthful of water and bend your head forward. (Your instinct is to tilt your head back, but that constricts your throat, exacerbating the gag reflex.) More often than not, the pills will float to the back of your throat and swallowing them will be a breeze.

  3. I also suggest taking several sips of water prior to taking your pills to moisten your throat. Swish the water, along with your supplements, around in your mouth.  Be sure to the water is room temperature or cold. Washing pills down with a warm beverage can dissolve the capsules before they leave your mouth, which can impact the potency of the nutrients.

  4. Still hard to swallow? I don’t normally recommend crushing tablets or opening capsules because they can quickly lose their potency, but if that’s the only way you can take your supplements, please do so. If you find the taste disagreeable, mix the capsule contents or crushed tablet with a cold food, such as yogurt or mashed banana.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have a pill-swallowing tip you can share?

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DISCLAIMER: The content of is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are "generally informational" and not specifically applicable to any individual's medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

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