Why take before / during / after meals

A correct diagnosis, correctly selected drugs and their correct administration are the keys to success in achieving a positive therapeutic effect.

What is the essence of correctly taking the prescribed drug?

Adhering to the scheme prescribed by the doctor and following the recommendations described in the instructions for the medicinal product, it is worth paying attention to the sequence in which to combine the intake of drugs and food. Information on the peculiarities of administration is available in each instruction for the drug in the section “Method of use and dosage”. The instruction is a mandatory accompanying document for each drug and must be available in each package of the drug presented on pharmacy shelves or in electronic form on specialized websites. The limits of the recommendations are quite clear: the medicine is taken before, after, or during meals or regardless of meals.

Why is this so important?

The purpose of each drug, upon reaching its destination, is to repair the “breakdown” or to promote the restoration or maintenance of the body’s protective properties. It is important not only what, but also how much in quantitative units will get “as intended”. After entering the gastrointestinal tract, the way of dissolution and absorption may be partially disrupted or completely ineffective. Why so? It is widely known that the digestive process is associated with the secretion of gastric juice (produced by the cells of the stomach), bile (produced by the liver) and pancreatic juice (secretion of the pancreas). Thus, any medicine taken orally (taken by mouth, by swallowing – lat. per os, oris) must overcome several active “barriers”.

When is it right and what are the consequences if it is wrong?

If we are talking about reception during meals, then the drug should be taken directly during meals.

On an empty stomach – the reception must be carried out approximately 30 minutes before breakfast.

Before meals – at least 30-40 minutes before meals.

After a meal – drink the medicine approximately 1.5 – 2 hours after a meal.

If there are no special recommendations, then the medicine can be taken at any time, as stated in the instructions.

When, inconsistent with food intake, the use of the medicinal product will reduce or reduce to zero the therapeutic effect?

If you take herbal preparations (decoctions, tinctures, infusions) incorrectly on an empty stomach, under the aggressive action of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, they can be digested and turn into an inactive form. It will be ineffective to take medicines containing calcium (calcium gluconate, calcium chloride, calcium glycerophosphate) during or after meals, because insoluble compounds are formed as a result of the reaction with fatty and other acids. To eliminate the irritating effect, preparations containing calcium are recommended to be washed down with rice broth, jelly or milk. Preparations containing the active substance drotaverine hydrochloride and some antispasmodic drugs, when taken simultaneously with food, adversely affect digestion. A number of tetracycline antibacterial drugs (tetracycline, doxycycline, etc.) dissolve well in acids, so they are taken 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. It is also worth noting that it is categorically not recommended to combine antibiotics of this series (however, like most antibacterial drugs) with milk and dairy products. When interacting with calcium, which is the main component of all dairy products, complex compounds are formed and the drug loses its initial therapeutic properties. However, the absorption of not all medicines is hindered by dairy products. For example, milk, in combination with taking a group of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (containing diclofenac sodium, acetylsalicylic acid), reduces the negative impact on the stomach walls. However, it is definitely still water that is a universal means for drinking most medicines.

Therefore, the correct intake of the drug directly affects the effectiveness of drug therapy – whether the drug will work properly, providing the expected therapeutic or preventive effect on the body.

Therefore, the recommendations: “before using the drug consult a doctor”, “read the instructions before use” are extremely important and should become a rule.