Is There Any Way to Make it Taste Better?

Whether it’s a child who cannot swallow pills or an Alzheimer’s patient who won’t, pharmacists all over the country and in every practice setting are asked “How can this medicine be made to taste better?” There are a few tips and tricks to help that medicine go down.

First, the tips:

  1. The larger the dose/strength, the more bitter the taste (e.g., prednisone 20mg is more bitter than prednisone 5mg.)
  2. Use the highest concentration possible for the smallest volume possible (e.g., use potassium chloride 40meq/15ml to dose 10meq daily – only 3.75ml per dose)
  3. Switch up the “tricks” so the popsicle/flavor/treat is not associated with medicine. Ever wonder why someone who grew up in Japan doesn’t like root beer? (That’s what most of their medicine tastes like!)
  4. Sweeter is better. Our instinct is to dislike and shy away from bitterness is innate. It is self-preservation: bitterness is poisonous, including poisonous plants, poisonous fruits, and poisonous animals such as frogs.

Now, the tricks:

Numb the Tongue
Sonic Ice Chips Chewing or sucking on ice chips freezes the tongue, which means tasting cannot take place.
Popsicles Popsicles combine two or more tricks to making crushed/liquid medications more palatable (freezing and citrus). Orange Dreamsicle anyone?
Chill Pills Place crushed pills/liquid in the freezer for 10 minutes before taking them. The tongue “feels” the cold before “tasting” the pills.
Camouflage the Taste
Make it Sweet Mary Poppins IS practically perfect and a spoonful of sugar DOES help the medicine go down. Combine crushed tablet with powdered sugar, Kool-Aid, and a little water – who could say no?
Coat the Tongue Chocolate masks bitterness better than most anything. Crush a tablet and place on a spoon coated with chocolate syrup. Make sure the chocolate coats the tongue first then let the tablets go.
Jello Shots Make Jello Jigglers and “hide” crushed tablets inside (note: use the Jiggler recipe on the Jello box rather than the Jello recipe). **WARNING** Add medication after cooled as heat can cause most medication to lose potency.
Miracle Fruit Synsepalum dulcificum is found in West Africa and the berry contains miraculin, which bonds to taste buds and makes sour/bitter foods taste sweet. Tablets of mBerry can be purchased.
Syrups Galore Thank you Starbucks for making a wide variety of syrups so easily available. ButterRum, marshmallow, vanilla, chocolate, wild cherry, and mint are just some that help mask bitter tastes.
Citrus Over-saturating the taste buds with one flavor helps mask bitterness. Lemonheads, chewing on lemon/orange rinds, did someone mention Orange Dreamsicle?
Spice it Up In addition to oversaturating the taste buds, some spices have a numbing effect, such as clove.
Concentrate It The Trifecta: numb the tongue, camouflage the taste, overstimulation (e.g., orange juice concentrate or frozen citrus syrup)
Gels/Sprays There are products on the market like SwallowAid and PillGlide that “lubricate” the back of the mouth and throat to assist with pill swallowing.
Devices There are also devices on the market such as Oralflow and EasyFlow that quickly get the pill to the back of the throat, followed by water or juice.
By | 2018-01-04T21:02:41+00:00 April 20th, 2017|Pharmacist Corner|0 Comments

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