What is bismuth subsalicylate-oral, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

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.

What brand names are available for bismuth subsalicylate?

Bismatrol Maximum Strength, Pepto Bismol, Kaopectate, and many other brands

Is bismuth subsalicylate-oral available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for bismuth subsalicylate?