Study Shows Bismuth Safe and Effective for H.Pylori Treatment

According to a new study, bismuth is a safe and effective addition for the treatment of H.Pylori, when used short-term. The findings are published Dec. 31, 2008 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.

H.Pylori is the bacteria that leads to peptic ulcer disease. Bismuth subsalicylate is used in chewable and liquid medications for the treatment of diarrhea and upset stomach. Bismuth compounds have been used medically for centuries, but too much can cause neurological problems.

The study, led by Professor Paul Moayyedi from McMaster University, Canada, included a review of thirty-five randomized controlled trials that included over 4500 patients. The trials compared the effect of bismuth combined with antibiotics, no treatment, or placebo, on H. Pylori bacteria.

The only side effect found was dark stools. Bismuth was found to be an effective treatment as part of overall treatment for H. Pylori.

The new information is considered important to physicians and patients. Treatment of H.Pylori has included the use of PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors), but they do not always work. Proton pump inhibitors have been associated with rash, nausea, constipation and abdominal pain. Recently, bismuth has been recommended for patients suffering from H.Pylori infection, but its safety has not been established until now.

Bismuth tablets are available without prescription, and less expensive that proton pump inhibitors. If you are being treated for H.Pylori with antibiotics, make sure you take bismuth preparation thirty minutes before taking your antibiotics. Brand names of bismuth products include Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol.

About H.Pylori

H. Pylori was discovered in 1983 as a cause of ulcers. Until that time, treatment did not include antibiotics. Many people have the infection, which affects the stomach and duodenum. H. Pylori can lead to cancer. Over eighty percent of people have no symptoms.

H. Pylori develops in childhood, and affects over fifty percent of the population. Scientists are still not certain how the disease is transmitted.

According to the Division of Bacterial Diseases (DBD), a division of the Centers for Disease Control, “Ulcers cause an estimated 1 million hospitalizations and 6500 deaths per year. In the United States, annual health care costs of peptic ulcer disease have been estimated at nearly $6 billion: $3 billion in hospitalization costs, $2 billion in physician office visits, and $1 billion in decreased productivity and days lost from work.”

The findings come as good news, especially given the economic burden and individual health impact of H.Pylori. If you suffer from H.Pylori, speak with your doctor before you use bismuth preparations.

Helicobacter pylori and Peptic Ulcer Disease
Adverse events with bismuth salts for Helicobacter pylori eradication: Systematic review and meta-analysis