- Take the Pancreatitis Quiz
- Boost Digestive Health
- Digestive Distress Slideshow: Problem Foods to Avoid
- What is ursodiol, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for ursodiol?
- Do I need a prescription for ursodiol?
- What are the side effects of ursodiol?
- What is the dosage for ursodiol?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with ursodiol?
- Is ursodiol safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about ursodiol?
What is ursodiol, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Ursodiol is a naturally-occurring bile acid that is made by the liver in humans and is secreted in small quantities into bile. It is used to dissolve and prevent cholesterol gallstones and to treat primary biliary cirrhosis, a disease of the liver. Ursodiol blocks the enzyme in the liver that produces cholesterol and thereby decreases production of cholesterol by the liver and the amount of cholesterol in bile. It also reduces the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine. By decreasing the concentration of cholesterol in bile, ursodiol prevents the formation and promotes the dissolution of cholesterol-containing gallstones. The mechanism by which it acts in primary biliary cirrhosis is not clear. The FDA approved ursodiol in December 1987.
What is the dosage for ursodiol?
The recommended dose for dissolving gallstones in adults is 8-10 mg/kg/day split into two or three doses (every 8 or 12 hours). Each dose should not exceed 300 mg. The maintenance dose is 250 mg at bedtime for six months.
For treating primary biliary cirrhosis, the recommended dose is 13-15 mg/kg/day split into 2 to 4 doses. Ursodiol should be taken with meals.
Which drugs or supplements interact with ursodiol?
Aluminum containing antacids, cholestyramine (Questran, Questran Light) and colestipol (Colestid) reduce the absorption of ursodiol and therefore reduce its action. Estrogens, oral contraceptives, clofibrate, and potentially other cholesterol reducing drugs may counteract the effects of ursodiol by increasing cholesterol secretion by the liver and the risk for gallstone formation.
Is ursodiol safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
The are no adequate studies in pregnant women.
It is not known whether ursodiol is secreted in breast milk.
What else should I know about ursodiol?
What preparations of ursodiol are available?
Capsules: 300 mg. Tablets: 250 and 500 mg
How should I keep ursodiol stored?
Ursodiol should be stored at room temperature, 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F).
Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions
Ursodiol (Actigall, Urso Forte, Urso 250) is a medication prescribed to dissolve cholesterol gallstones and treating primary biliary cirrhosis. Side effects, drug interactions, and dosage information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Related Disease Conditions
Gallbladder Pain (Gall Bladder Pain)
Gallbladder pain (often misspelled "gall bladder") is generally produced by of five problems, biliary colic, cholecystitis,...
Gallstones (Pain, Symptoms, Causes, Diet, and Treatment)
Gallstones are stones that form when substances in the bile harden. Gallstones (formed in the gallbladder) can be as small as...
Fatty Liver (NASH)
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NASH occurs due to the accumulation of abnormal amounts of fat within the liver. Fatty liver...
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC)
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBS) is a liver disease in which bile building up in the organ damages bile ducts. Ultimately, this...
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)
Primary sclerosing cholangitis or PSC is a disease of the liver. The cause of PSC is not known. Symptoms may include itching,...
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis Treatment (PBC)
Primary biliary sclerosis (PBC) is thought to be an autoimmune disorder that involves the deterioration of the liver's small bile...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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.