November 7, 2023 at 12:34 pm

Why Do Pills Taste So Bitter? Here’s How To Avoid That Bad Flavor.

by Trisha Leigh

Source: iStock

Some people don’t mind swallowing a handful of pills – or they’ve just grown used to it – but others (like me) make a face every single time.

Why can’t they just make them taste better?

Well, it turns out there’s a reason pills often taste bitter or just downright bad.

According to the American Chemical Society, the pill coatings are bitter because they’re often derived from plants. Drug-makers trying to include as few additives as possible so as to minimize potential interactions – so trying to add things to make them taste better could cause more trouble than it thwarts.

Source: iStock

Since pills aren’t something we want to taste good, the bitter taste also acts as a repellent for people who aren’t meant to be taking them. In addition – and rightfully so – scientists and druggists are more keen on developing drugs that work really well instead of working on making them taste good.

Some coatings, like the outside of Advil, for example, do taste sweet. That said, those coatings have a purpose – in this case, making sure the drug doesn’t break down until it reaches the intestines.

This is a bigger issue when it comes to getting children to take medicine, and over 90% of pediatricians report the bad taste of drugs as a barrier to treating kiddos who need them.

There are scientists who are hoping to circumvent this issue, like the experts at the UCL School of Pharmacy who are aiming to make them more palatable and easier for patients to take and maintain.

For now, there are a few tricks you can try if the bitter taste of medicine makes it really hard to swallow.

Source: iStock

First, you can make sure to place the pill as far back on your tongue as possible, then taking a big gulp of water.

Or, you can throwback to your youth and just hold your nose, since 80% of what you taste is what you smell.

If you have a really gross one or a serious aversion, you can cover the pill in syrup or honey before putting it into your mouth.

A spoonful of sugar and all that.