Is chewing a pill or crushing it safe, and will it make the medicine take effect sooner? This can have unintended effects, and it is impossible to make a blanket statement for every type of pill. Some pills are completely safe to chew and will take effect sooner, but some can be dangerous to chew.
Chewing a tablet will make your body absorb the ingredients faster, generally, but some medications need to be administered to the body slowly over time. Having these medications take effect too quickly can cause an unintended, sometimes dangerous response. For instance, chewing a medicine for treating high blood pressure can cause the medication to be absorbed by the body too fast and can cause dangerously low blood pressure.
There are a variety of pills of all shapes and sizes that need to be digested gradually, but generally pills that have an outer coating are supposed to be digested very slowly. Cutting these pills in half or crushing them will ensure that they are administered too fast, potentially causing a very dangerous interaction with their absorption into your bloodstream.
Somewhat contrary to the section above, there are also pills that need to be in full form to have any effect at all. Some pills have a special coating to protect it from stomach acids which would destroy the medicine. Chewing these pills causes the medicine to be exposed directly to acids in the stomach, and the medicine will be destroyed before it makes it to the intestines where it can be properly digested and take effect.
This doesn’t apply to just pills with coatings, however. Many pills disintegrate over time as they go down your esophagus, eventually hitting the stomach to finish disintegrating. If you chew a pill, it will disintegrate much faster. Since the digestion process begins in your mouth and continues even before reaching the stomach, the pill may dissolve and be ineffective before it reaches the stomach.
Medicine in capsules presents a different problem: as they are in the capsule, it is very difficult to separate the powder within. Past that, if you separate it, there is now no container for half of the substance.
Separating powder presents the same issue as above: without the outer coating (the capsule in this case), the medicine will dissolve either too fast or too quickly. This can cause, at best, no effect, or at worst, serious and dangerous effects.
In a small number of instances, a doctor may instruct you to cut your pill in half for a partial dose of a medication. Never do this without a doctor’s consent. Having less medication than normal may cause the medication to have no effect. It can also cause you to not have the desired effect, which may lead you to taking more pills that you were originally planning to.
However, there are some medicines that are more or less okay to chew. Gel capsules, such as the medicine Nyquil, may be safe to chew. Gummies, such as multivitamins, may also be safe to chew. Be aware that this may have the same effect above, where you may ingest more medication after the fact for the effects you want, causing you to take more pills overall.
Often, no, chewing a pill will likely cause either a bad response or no effect. It’s essential that you talk to your doctor before taking pills in a different way than prescribed. Your doctor might be able to prescribe a safe, fast acting version of the medication if that is what you need. They might also state that it is safe to chew the pills, but until you have professional confirmation, it’s best to stay safe.