Bismuth (Bi) is a chemical element with the atomic number 83. Supplements containing bismuth usually contain bismuth as a salt.
People take bismuth salts by mouth for inflammation of the lining of the colon (colitis), constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, odor caused by an opening in the belly wall during surgery (ileostomy odor), stomach problems caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs, stomach ulcers, stomach flu, and preventing traveler's diarrhea.
People apply bismuth salt to the skin for hemorrhoids.
People use bismuth as an enema for pouchitis. This condition involves inflammation in an artificial rectum created after surgery for ulcerative colitis.
Bismuth salts are also added to cosmetics, batteries, paints, and pigment plastics in manufacturing.
How it works
Bismuth salts seem to help eliminate bacteria that cause stomach problems such as diarrhea and stomach ulcers. Bismuth salts also work like an antacid to treat problems such as indigestion. Bismuth also might speed up blood clotting.
Likely EffectiveTraveler's diarrhea
Research shows that taking bismuth subsalicylate the day before traveling and continuing until 2 days after returning home reduces the risk of traveler's diarrhea by up to 41%.
Taking a certain bismuth salt called bismuth subgallate by mouth, short-term and as directed, is LIKELY SAFE when used to treat odor caused by an opening in the belly wall during surgery. Also, another bismuth salt called bismuth subsalicylate is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth short-term and as directed to treat diarrhea. These two bismuth salts are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat these conditions
Other forms of bismuth salts are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately, short-term. Bismuth salts, including ranitidine bismuth citrate, colloidal bismuth subcitrate, and bismuth subnitrate appear to be safe when taken in doses of 400-2100 mg daily for up to 56 days
Bismuth is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large amounts due to the risk for kidney failure, and when taken over the long-term due to the risk of nerve damage.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking bismuth if you arepregnantorbreast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Children: Bismuth subgallate and bismuth subsalicylate are LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth short-term and as directed. Taking 200-400 mg of bismuth subgallate by mouth up to four times daily is approved by the US FDA as a deodorant drug for children at least 12 years-old. Taking 1.05 grams of bismuth subsalicylate by mouth hourly as needed (no more than 4.2 grams daily) for up to 2 days is approved by the US FDA for diarrhea in children at least 12 years-old. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking other bismuth salts by mouth in children. Bismuth is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large amounts or over a prolonged time period.
Allergy to salicylate: Many bismuth supplements contain the bismuth salt called bismuth subsalicylate. When taken by mouth, bismuth subsalicylate breaks down in the stomach to form bismuth and salicylate. In theory, people who are sensitive to salicylate might have a serious side effect to these supplements
Many dietary supplements contain bismuth in the form of bismuth subsalicylate. When taken by mouth, bismuth subsalicylate is broken down into bismuth and salicylate. Because aspirin contains salicylate, taking bismuth with aspirin might increase the effects and side effects of aspirin.Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Some medications are taken to slow blood clotting. Bismuth salts might increase how quickly blood clots. Taking bismuth salts with these medications might reduce their effects and increase the risk of blood clots. Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.Omeprazole (Prilosec)
Omeprazole increases how much bismuth the body absorbs. Taking omeprazole with bismuth might increase the effects and side effects of bismuth.Warfarin (Coumadin)
There is some concern that a specific bismuth salt called bismuth subsalicylate might decrease the effects of warfarin. People using warfarin should avoid using bismuth subsalicylate. However, this interaction is not likely for other bismuth salts.