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Pepto-Bismol to Banish Smelly Gas

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Q. I read a question in your column about smelly gas and I have a suggestion. Take a Pepto-Bismol tablet. It helps control that odorous gas.

Pepto-Bismol will turn your stool black, but there's no harm in occasional use. I take the tablets with me on trips to prevent traveler's diarrhea.

A. Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) has been shown to control the odor in flatus. It reduces hydrogen sulfide (the smelly stuff) from the colon quite dramatically (Gastroenterology, May, 1998).

Regular use of Pepto-Bismol could be problematic. Excessive bismuth can be toxic, leading to symptoms such as nausea, rash, diarrhea, stomach pain, mouth ulcers and kidney damage. Too much salicylate can interact with other medications such as warfarin (Coumadin).

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5 Comments

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I have occasional heartburn, usual methods didn't help. Now I take a small sip of Pepto-Bismol AND a small sip of Milk of Magnesia. Each one coats the stomach and they counter-act each other to prevent diarrhea and/or constipation. I only need this once or twice a week. Would not recommend more frequent use of either.

Another option for occasional use is activated charcoal, which deodorizes and also adsorbs intestinal gas. It is excellent for food poisoning, taken in a larger dose. However, it does turn the stool black and is said to remove added supplements/vitamins/medications, so it is best taken two hours before or after ingestion of these.

If people would pay attention to their gut and take friendly bacteria on a regular basis they wouldn't be suffering from gas.

The gut is incredibly important to the body (and immune system) and needs to be nourished. Good probiotics will make a huge difference in their lives and health. This should be done on a regular basis. Also cutting down on the sweets and simple carbohydrates would keep the gut in better shape.

I like what flb says, but please say more.

As a vegan, not eating any simple carbohydrates or processed sweets (other than fresh fruit) ... what do you mean by good probiotics? I know you can find "products" with probiotics, but I'd prefer to ingest only natural, not processed food.

Not eating any animal products such as meat, milk, cheese, etc. Only whole grains, beans, lots of veggies and fruit... Thanks.

It would be very difficult to get all the nutrients the body needs without any animal protein at all. One can ferment foods themselves and get the good bacteria but most of us purchase capsules containing several of the natural gut bacteria. Acidophilus, bifidus,etc.

The usual fermented foods would be veggies such as cabbage and of course the milk fermented products such as kefir, yogurt and buttermilk.

Some people do not do well on a vegan diet. If one is a protein type it is awful. This I found out myself many years ago.

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