How does your body process medicine? – Céline Valéry

How does your body process medicine? – Céline Valéry

Have you ever wondered what
happens to a painkiller, like ibuprofen, after you swallow it? Medicine that slides down
your throat can help treat a headache, a sore back, or a throbbing sprained ankle. But how does it get where it needs
to go in the first place? The answer is that it hitches
a ride in your circulatory blood stream, cycling through your body in a race
to do its job before it’s snared by organs
and molecules designed to neutralize and expel foreign substances. This process starts
in your digestive system. Say you swallow an ibuprofen tablet
for a sore ankle. Within minutes, the tablet starts
disintegrating in the acidic fluids of your stomach. The dissolved ibuprofen travels
into the small intestine and then across the intestinal wall
into a network of blood vessels. These blood vessels feed into a vein, which carries the blood,
and anything in it, to the liver. The next step is to make
it through the liver. As the blood and the drug molecules
in it travel through liver blood vessels, enzymes attempt to react with
the ibuprofen molecules to neutralize them. The damaged ibuprofen molecules,
called metabolites, may no longer be effective as painkillers. At this stage, most of the ibuprofen
makes it through the liver unscathed. It continues its journey out of the liver, through veins, into the body’s circulatory system. Half an hour after you swallow the pill, some of the dose has already made it
into the circulatory blood stream. This blood loop travels through every
limb and organ, including the heart, brain, kidneys,
and back through the liver. When ibuprofen molecules
encounter a location where the body’s pain
response is in full swing, they bind to specific target molecules
that are a part of that reaction. Painkillers, like ibuprofen, block the
production of compounds that help the body transmit pain signals. As more drug molecules accumulate, the pain-cancelling affect increases, reaching a maximum within about
one or two hours. Then the body starts efficiently
eliminating ibuprofen, with the blood dose decreasing by half
every two hours on average. When the ibuprofen molecules detach
from their targets, the systemic blood stream carries
them away again. Back in the liver, another small fraction
of the total amount of the drug gets transformed into metabolites, which are eventually filtered out
by the kidneys in the urine. The loop from liver to body to kidneys
continues at a rate of about one blood cycle per minute, with a little more of the drug neutralized
and filtered out in each cycle. These basic steps are the same for
any drug that you take orally, but the speed of the process and the amount of medicine that makes
it into your blood stream varies based on drug, person, and how it gets into the body. The dosing instructions
on medicine labels can help, but they’re averages based on
a sample population that doesn’t represent every consumer. And getting the dose right is important. If it’s too low,
the medicine won’t do its job. If it’s too high, the drug
and its metabolites can be toxic. That’s true of any drug. One of the hardest groups of patients
to get the right dosage for are children. That’s because how they process medicine
changes quickly, as do their bodies. For instance, the level of liver enzymes
that neutralize medication highly fluctuates
during infancy and childhood. And that’s just one
of many complicating factors. Genetics, age, diet, disease, and even pregnancy influence the body’s
efficiency of processing medicine. Some day, routine DNA tests may be able
to dial in the precise dose of medicine personalized to your liver efficiency
and other factors, but in the meantime, your best bet is reading the label or consulting your doctor
or pharmacist, and taking the recommended amounts
with the recommended timing.



  • Michael Kabilov

    Just nullifies pain receptors and signals, and supports chemicals like histamine and phagocyte production

  • Doppelganger D

    The art reminds me of the old educational shows that I watched in elementary school like School House Rock. 😀 Im getting nostalgia! Lol This was a very good video. Now I understand how it all works

  • xXSenpai SaltyXx

    They look so cute cuddling up ommmmmggg 2:05

  • deqnq

    The liver… The traitor…

  • Vinh Pham

    Isnt pain is a good sign? If u dont get pain u wont know what the problems is and u may make it worst.
    Say that your leg is hurt and u need to rest. Now u get a painkiller then the pain gone and u start walking, working again. This will make your body go worst.
    Pain is a signal to you that saying u need to rest.

  • That black guy from Never gonna give you up

    Damn organs trying to do their job

  • Zayton Sirad

    Am i the only one thinking that

    What if i dissolve one tablet of medication and put it in a syringe and inject it to my blood stream.


    What if i just Drink the Medication inside the Syringe

  • Iziah Hooks

    I love how the desease icon looks. But of course, I know it's a long shot for anyone to watch their daily basis if you know what I mean. But all medicine could be deadly if you take too much of them a day. I have a headache right now and I've already tooken an ibuprofen and I just wanted to know how it works, that's all… Peace out…

  • Lemonade_Clorox

    Medical flex tape

  • Valery Nicolle Lemus Sandoval


  • keniruu

    Medicine in a nutshell: drugs

  • Ishita Takawale

    But…if it depends on the person’s body and other factors (the dosage)…how do doctors tell us the dosage we need? Is there any technique to identify the dosage according to a person’s body

  • Steamy Sulixx

    one time i had an anxiety attack because i couldn’t find my anxiety pills

  • Hakeem Canonio

    Thank you! Very informative and concise video.
    More power!

  • autoscripts

    dude, i was so scared of taking pills and stuff, it feels like putting poisen or unknown chemicals into your body, but now i know its not that bad, thanks.

  • trash

    Watching this video stalling becuase Im scared to take pills right now 😂😂

  • yara taha

    Damn the human body is so interesting

  • Naddy Kim

    I'm having a migraine then i took one pill of paracetamol then I went to sleep,I don't know either with my sleep or that pill that stop myself from the pain.

  • Amai Kiomi

    I like cheese

  • Evatube With friends

    There’s triangle my pee pee

  • Her0br1ine -Minecraft

    Not bad I learned this after taking a pill. To kill my stomach pain

  • Erik Hahn

    Pharmacokinetics and dynamics! Let's go!

  • Мухаммед Саад

    I was searching for this information for several days and I have found it here, thank you so much 😊

  • Mandy Rollins

    I was looking for a video about why oral medications could just stop working..especially regarding people that have gastric bypass and don't absorb anything as much as a normal person. But this was still quite interesting.

  • eclecticaspie

    i like ted -ed.

  • has beh

  • SandboxArrow

    One of the best TED ED videos ever

  • Saundra Wills

    No pain killer 4 Dr. Said, no pain killer with my meds.heart, liver,etc.

  • QueenSahara Ice

    Great video!

  • Fatyyma Shahzad


  • Venus Germanotta

    Yeah that is just the basic digestion and absorption mechanism. What i wanted to know was what enzyme exactly is working on the pill to make it possible to digest and then absorb.

  • Star Man

    could of picked a pain killer that actually works

  • Johan Esterhuizen

    so why do our enzymes try to react with the ibuprofen molecules to neutralize it?

  • vi zeath

    Who watched this video after drinking medicine?

  • Orange67

    Do we chew pills or swallow it ?

  • Gabriel Sinca

    What if I snort pill dust like coke?
    sniff sniff…

  • Samuel Gurawski

    I’m study pharmacy at uni and this is so interesting for me

  • Thrivikram Reddy P.

    I think these pain killers are useless.

  • MrYerak5

    So thats why fish dont feel pain, every time we pee we flush to the ochan

  • ChangedName _

    3:40 I can see that happening

  • Briel James Abad

    They call it the "American Death Dance"

    You take pain medication

    Pain medication damages the liver

    Takes medicine for damage liver

    Medicine for liver damages kidney

    And thus begin the dance to the grave

  • BmnGameBoy

    I bet how it actualy happens can scar people for life

  • b keerthana


  • It's Pedro

    So taking pills is not good for your liver?

  • iamaplatypus 1234

    Nice vid!

  • Legendoflaw21007 Whittle

    Was this animation from sesame street? I loved the pinball cartoon.

  • Bruce Wang

    This looks like a fun rolercoster 😙

  • Winston Alex

    N the pain starts again.

  • M H


  • Taylor Yasmine

    Natural remedies are best beautiful people

  • Christopher Lara

    I thought the medicine would tell the white blood cells to calm down and they'll do the work for them and then eventually get lazy and when you stop taking the drug your blood cells would be lazy and would take care of a cold or something much longer than what they used to

  • Mister Maker

    Ì would always think that when I swallow some medicine I always think that it flies like a bird to where my pain is…
    Do you imagine that too? Just me? Ok.

  • KaleKaZaM

    But how do they know where to go, like how do they tell what the problem is?

  • yahya ghazal

    Speaking about medicine you reminded me of my heart medicine i forgot it for 2 days😑

  • bhukha nanga singer

    once u start taking medicine orgo to thr hospital. u hv to do it again n again till the time u die. say no to medicine, its drugs.

  • Sohel. faruk

    That means painkillers are just stopping symptoms temporarily, not curing the actual problem,

  • Nitin Sharma

    Amazing, fantastic, good job, thanks for the knowledge….

  • Nihal Yadav NY

    Bad graphics

  • shannon gacha

    I got free botox fron having one of these

  • aneela sadiq


  • 후쟌

    The visuals and the concise explanation with examples made it easy to understand even for the non-experts. It was great.

  • Jackson Wang


  • Big Blue

    I didn't know your body tries to stop it huh

  • JESUS Is Lord

    Cool video

  • Sharuk Mohammad

    God knows best…

  • Elliott Allan

    The way the animator truly represented the amazingly well-oganized incredible machine the human body is was just sublime to me.

  • The_ Killer

    me watching this on 3am

  • Sir Admin

    I learned more about the body than I did in school

  • Nature Owl

    I read that the more pills you take the shorter you're life is expected .

  • The Joker

    Marijuana is my painkiller

  • Ezequiel SC

    Thank you pharmaceutical industry <3

  • kdrama sarang

    Very informative

  • Giulianna Ferreira

    O melhor é não tomar analgésicos. Estes danificam seu anestesista natural do corpo tornando a dor crônica. Pessoas q sofrem de dores crônicas, são as mesmas q fazem uso contínuo de analgésicos.


    Good game


    Honey, it dissolves

  • Kenneth See

    Not a medical professional or student. Just a sick guy at home curious about how this works. Fantastically simple explanation. I'm sure there is more nuance I'm gonna miss but this answered my questions. Thanks for the video!

  • Sangamesh Pattannashatti

    how you make animation

  • Ahil Kannan

    The graphics are telling the story. Good.

  • Dhaval Tandel


  • Bubble Bath

    Argh , animation making life simple , Grrrrr

  • Shreyash H. Turkar

    Title should be "How medicines are designed to cure" 😉

  • rosya Amalia

    Finally, I Can Sleep 😌 quietly

  • TanwarG

    It's like a Pinball Game 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  • surajit Mondal

    Very nice information.

  • saikumar vassamsetti

    How many are taking medicine and watching this video ?

  • siddharth mourya

    I always thought how my leg pain vanished after taking medicine

  • Selena Oliver

    Aww i m dying it moves every where 😂

  • Abdulrahman Hawas

    CSGO PLAYERS : Hold my weapon

  • arpvc

    so there's a mini theme park for the meds I swallowed? cool

  • O gato retardado / The retarded cat

    And when do we take throat medicine? The medicine does not go through the process, or goes through the whole process to…. BACK TO TOP?

  • George Alderson

    I wish dosage could be given in hours eg rather than saying "take 3 times a day" it would say "take every eight hours" or "twice a day" every 12

  • Raheem Williams

    Good Morning 👋🏾I always said medicine I 👣good for your breathing all period 👋🏾think the next step is 👣see how it is process:

  • BaconhairBoi2008

    i like the marble run style of the vid

  • 彭摆鱼

    the intelligible illustration of the video is totally amazing,I cannot find other who is better than ted's

  • Connie Brown


  • Larry Putra

    what about vitamins in supplements? how does that get processed by the body ?

  • Vinnie Bisson

    Scary to think when you do ecstasy pills it will travel through all your vital organs

  • I'm a simple man just eat and eat

    Unlucky me
    Paracetamol and ibuprofen doesnt do anything
    I get sick everytine

  • Shubham Verma

    0:55 it's not vein…it's artery

  • itsmeee7

    This was very well done, very well explained. Thx!

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