GENERIC NAME: bismuth subsalicylate
BRAND NAME: Bismatrol Maximum Strength, Pepto Bismol, Kaopectate, and many other brands
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Bismuth subsalicylate (BSS) is a commonly used over the counter medicine used to treat:
Bismuth subsalicylate is also used to prevent traveler's diarrhea and to treat Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection as part of a quadruple-drug therapy that also includes two antibiotics, and either a histamine-2 receptor antagonist or proton pump inhibitor.
Bismuth subsalicylate has various therapeutic benefits in the body including anti-bacterial, weak antacid, anti-inflammatory, and anti-secretory actions. After oral administration, bismuth subsalicylate is degraded in the stomach to produce salicylic acid. Salicylic acid inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandin, a chemical made in the body that plays an important role in contraction of smooth muscle and relaxation, dilation & constriction of blood vessels, blood pressure control, and modulation of inflammation.
The antidiarrheal benefits of bismuth subsalicylate may be due to the reduction in prostaglandin synthesis. Bismuth subsalicylate also prevents the attachment of bacteria to the walls of the intestine, inactivates enterotoxins (toxic chemicals made by bacteria), and has a direct inhibiting effect on bacteria.
Bismuth subsalicylate was first approved by the FDA in 1939.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Bismuth subsalicylate is used for over-the-counter (OTC):
- treatment of nonspecific diarrhea,
- prevention of traveler's diarrhea,
- part of a multidrug regimen to eradicate H. pylori, and
- for over-the-counter treatment of:
Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.