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pepto bismol for hangovers

Evidence based

Is Pepto Bismol Good For Hangovers?

Afterdrink Author Kathy Caldwell
Kathy Caldwell

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Evidence based

Pepto Bismol is an over-the-counter remedy for the treatment of indigestion, heartburn, and nausea among other things.

You may be wondering whether it is OK to take Pepto Bismol after drinking alcohol?

Or whether Pepto Bismol is good for hangovers?

If so, we’ve got all the answers you need. In this article, we aim to clear things up by taking a closer look at everything you need to know about using Pepto Bismol with respect to alcohol and for hangovers.

Table of contents

How does Pepto Bismol work and what is it used for?

The active ingredient in Pepto Bismol is bismuth subsalicylate.

It’s a drug that is said to provide relief from nausea, diarrhea, and upset stomach due to overindulgence in food and drink, along with heartburn and indigestion.

Although it’s not 100% clear how it works, it’s believed that Pepto Bismol:

  • Increases the amount of fluid your intestines absorbs
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Blocks toxins produced by bad gut bacteria such as E.coli
  • Kills bad bacteria

The “salicylate” component of Pepto Bismol is responsible for reducing inflammation. Salicylate is also the active ingredient in aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid).

In summary, Pepto Bismol can potentially help with indigestion, nausea, and diarrhea. Seeing as these are some of the symptoms you get with a hangover, can it also help after drinking alcohol?

That’s what we’ll focus on next: Pepto Bismol for hangovers.

Causes of a hangover

Before we see whether Pepto Bismol helps with hangover symptoms, we first need to go over how drinking alcohol causes hangovers in the first place.

The science of hangovers is complicated because they are not caused by one single thing. Rather, it’s a combination of factors that all come into play. These include

Dehydration: Alcohol blocks a hormone called ADH which means your kidneys flush out extra water.
Inflammation: Alcohol is metabolized into toxic by-products which react with your cells causing inflammation.
Sleep disturbance: Alcohol blocks your brain from reaching the REM stage of sleep. Therefore, reducing sleep quality.

These are just some of the ways in which scientists believe alcohol is likely to cause hangovers. Together, you end up with a constellation of hangover symptoms which includes:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Body pain / Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea

In fact, some studies have said there are 47 symptoms of a hangover.

So, with the basics out the way, let’s take a closer look at whether Pepto Bismol is good for hangovers.

Does Pepto Bismol help with hangovers?

We mentioned before that Pepto Bismol is mainly used to treat nausea, indigestion, and diarrhea. That’s why we’ll focus on whether Pepto Bismol for these symptoms of a hangover.

Before we start, Pepto Bismol is not specifically a treatment for “hangovers”. With that said, on their website they do mention that Pepto Bismol can be used for symptoms after “overindulgence in food and drink”.(1)

Pepto Bismol for hangover nausea

Nausea and vomiting are arguably one of the worst symptoms of a hangover. There are a few different causes and you can read more about them in our article about hangover nausea. In simple terms, alcohol irritates the stomach lining, slows down the gut, and inflames gastric cells to name a few.

Pepto Bismol can help line the stomach and reduce inflammation. However, the taste may not suit everyone so it’s something to be aware of. A natural alternative for hangover nausea is ginger.

Pepto Bismol for hangover heartburn

Similarly, Pepto Bismol is an option to treat hangover heartburn.

The only thing to be aware of is that one of the active ingredients in Pepto Bismol (subsalicylate) is known to reduce the stomach’s mucus lining. As a result, this could have the opposite effect by exposing your stomach lining to acid.

Pepto Bismol for hangover diarrhea

Hangover diarrhea, also known as alco-poops is a problem for many of us. Having an upset stomach after drinking alcohol with loose stools is a well-known phenomenon.

Once again, there are many different potential causes. But generally speaking, it’s thought to be from inflammation caused by alcohol and its by-products. In addition, alcohol disrupts the motility of your gut which can also have an impact.(2)

Pepto Bismol is said to help when diarrhea is caused by bad bacteria. So it’s unlikely to have many benefits for hangover-associated diarrhea. That said, you could have eaten something dodgy the night before so if you’re unsure, it’s always best to speak to your doctor for advice.(3)

Does Pepto Bismol prevent hangovers?

Pepto Bismol will definitely not prevent hangovers. Hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol and Pepto Bismol will not stop a hangover from happening.

Does Pepto Bismol interact with alcohol?

There are no specific interactions of Pepto Bismol with alcohol.(4)(5)

That means if you’ve had a few drinks and now have a bit of indigestion, it’s OK to take Pepto Bismol after drinking alcohol.

With that said, it’s best to avoid if binge drinking or in chronic alcohol use as it could cause problems.

Anything else to consider?

Hangovers are a sign from your body that you’ve been drinking too much alcohol for your liver to handle. Trying to treat or prevent symptoms of a hangover with Pepto Bismol is the wrong approach.

When it comes to hangovers, prevention is key. Reducing your alcohol intake, drinking at a slower pace, and eating before going out are all it takes to prevent hangovers.

Pepto Bismol is only good for short-term relief of symptoms. If you’re finding you’re taking Pepto Bismol regularly and symptoms don’t improve after the first few doses, you need to speak to your doctor.

The reason is, that all the symptoms mentioned above would also fit with several other medical conditions. That’s why it’s always best to get professional advice before self-treating any symptom.

Is Pepto Bismol Good For Hangovers?

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