Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

How Could Heartburn Drug Help Plantar Warts?

Although the research is not promising, many readers report that taking cimetidine (Tagamet) can help plantar warts go away. Medical supervision advised!

Plantar warts, those that appear on the soles of the feet (and occasionally the palms of the hands), can be devilishly difficult to remove. Doctors sometimes use freezing or laser therapy, but even those advanced approaches don’t work all the time. That’s why it can come as quite a surprise to learn an old-fashioned heartburn drug might help plantar warts.

Tagamet to Help Plantar Warts:

Q. I had the bottom of one foot covered with warts. When I mentioned this to my family doctor, he said he’d heard Tagamet could help plantar warts. It took about two weeks, taking one a day, for the warts to disappear.

A. A small study in the journal Medical Sciences (June 2018) tested the value of the heartburn medicine cimetidine (Tagamet) in the treatment of recalcitrant warts. The children were heart transplant patients, so their immune systems were suppressed. Such patients are especially vulnerable to warts.

Cimetidine may be an immune modulating drug. Treatment for three to six months with cimetidine got rid of the warts in all but one child.

The authors conclude:

“Since many conventional treatments for warts are painful, expensive, and may cause scarring, cimetidine offers a safe alternative treatment for cutaneous warts in pediatric heart transplant recipients.”

You can learn about numerous wart remedies, including cimetidine, in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

Reader Reports Success with Tagamet Against Warts:

Q. I have had a plantar wart for almost 20 years, which eventually turned into a cluster. I’ve tried everything: duct tape, vinegar soaks, banana peel, wart remedies, etc. The doctor even performed surgery, but the warts returned.

I was desperate. I read about Tagamet and gave it a try. Within two months of taking one pill in the AM and one in the PM, my warts are GONE! I am in disbelief. It’s literally amazing.

A. Studies of the heartburn drug cimetidine (Tagamet) have produced conflicting results against warts (Fit & Williams, Annals of Pharmacotherapy, July, 2007).  That said, we have heard from many readers that this drug seems to work when most other approaches have failed.

Other readers have offered their experience with cimetidine to help plantar warts at this post. For even more stories, keep reading:

Tagamet as a Last Resort against Stubborn Warts:

Q. Please tell me more about treating warts with Tagamet. Do you make a paste of the Tagamet and put it on the wart, or do you swallow the pills?

A. You are not the only person who wants to know about cimetidine (Tagamet) against warts.

Jennifer appreciated your question:

“Thanks to the subscriber for asking whether a cited remedy in these columns should be taken orally or topically. I get confused by this in several of the discussions on this People’s Pharmacy website. For example, oils are mentioned ….. fish oil applied topically or taken orally? I remember decades ago (late 1960’s) traveling in then Yugoslavia and my friend stepped on a sea urchin. We had to get the painful black specks out of the bottom of her foot. Someone recommended castor oil, which surprised us. We bought some, thinking she’d have to hold her nose to take it. Fortunately we found out it brings out the urchin spines if applied TOPICALLY. Worked like a charm.

“That travel experience prompted me to continue to wonder WHAT is PP or the contributor talking about? — using a product orally or topically?”

One reader wrote in:

“My husband has been going through painful sessions of freezing with liquid nitrogen & burning with acid for the last 3 months. It has not helped get rid of his warts. He is desperate to try the Tagamet. How much should he take and for how long?”

The dermatological community is often ambivalent about this approach.

A review of the medical literature in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment (Feb., 2012) concluded that:

“Reviewed trials of systemic treatments for cutaneous warts were highly variable in methods and quality, and there was a paucity of evidence from randomized, placebo-controlled trials on which to base the rational use of such therapies.”

That said, there are some studies showing that when cimetidine is taken orally it can sometimes be effective against hard-to-treat warts. The dose is high, so we recommend medical supervision.

RS was quite pleased with how the Tagamet worked to help plantar warts:

“I had great success with Tagamet for my plantar warts. I am a 24-year-old female. Starting in November of 2008 I noticed 2 small warts. I went to my doctor and had them frozen off. They did not go away and then 4 more appeared.

“I went back and had them frozen again and I was left with 3 after that. I went back again for the same treatment. They didn’t go away and one was growing! By then I had 3 warts, 2 small and one the size of a dime. They were frozen off 3 to 4 more times with no success.

“I then tried using duct tape with no success and some homeopathic treatments that did not work. I was prescribed fluorouracil 5 topical cream (chemotherapy) compounded with 30% acid. After 2 months on that they still had not gone away.

“My doctor was about to surgically remove them which would have taken off my entire heel because of how big that one was and how close they were together. I told him no thanks and asked if there was anything else I could do.

“He told me to try Tagamet 200mg 3 times a day in combination with the chemo stuff. Three weeks later I was wart free. I noticed a difference the moment I started taking the Tagamet. It was AMAZING, especially after all I had gone through to get rid of them. I do think it helped to use the combination but the Tagamet is what really kicked them.”

Elena wrote:

“I just wanted to say thanks to this site!

“My 7-year-old son had warts for almost 2.5 years. We tried everything we could to get rid of it. I can’t even describe how many painful evenings we had while applying salicylic acid on the warts.

“We went to the pediatrician every two weeks to burn the warts off but they kept coming back.

“Four weeks ago he had more than 20 warts: hands, feet, elbows, around the mouth and some of them were huge. I started getting really worried because nothing helped and it looked like 5 more were starting to grow. I bought all kinds of medications even in different countries (UK, Europe, USA) just to try. We got rid of only one wart by salicylic acid over 2.5 years!

“Exactly four weeks ago, I found this forum about Tagamet. I went to Walgreens and bought two packages. I gave him one tablet in the morning (200mg) and one in the evening with some orange juice. In two weeks: warts started to dry up. Within three weeks: half of them felt off. A month later: we still have several left, but they are dry and ready to fell off soon.”

Another reader reported:

“WOW! I had plantar warts on the bottom of my feet for close to 5 years. It got to the point where I didn’t wear flip flops or anything that showed my feet, which was hard because I’m a surfer, and a skateboarder.

“I tried everything including tape, freezing them off, and going to the doctor to get a blister treatment to lift them off, but unfortunately nothing worked.

“Then one day the doctor decided to prescribe an experimental treatment called Tagamet to try and help. I took it for 2 1/2 months and my warts went away. I am pleased I took Tagamet to help plantar warts. It really works.”

Patience May Be Critical:

KAF wrote:

“We treated some bad plantar warts on my daughter with cimetidine. One thing I don’t see in the article above is that before decreasing, her wart grew. We thought it wasn’t working, and then it went away.”

Not everyone benefits from taking cimetidine to help plantar warts.

AM discovered:

“I am middle aged and had a few warts that were 15 years old on my foot and calf. A high prescription dose of Tagamet for 3 months offered no success. The dermatologist told me that it has worked on younger people but not anyone my age. I told her I wanted to try anyway. The pharmacist even asked why I was receiving such a high dose as he was filling my prescription. I just wanted your readers to know my experience. Eventually I had the warts cut out and their roots cauterized and burned. That worked.”

Medical Supervision Is Necessary:

We strongly urge anyone considering using cimetidine to help plantar warts to seek medical supervision. This is especially true if the patient is a child. Cimetidine can interact with a number of medications, so it is imperative that both the physician and pharmacist double check for any possible incompatibilities.

Jennifer described a different solution to help plantar warts:

“About warts. Decades ago a dermatologist was trying to rid a patient of warts, with no success. The patient happened to mention that she was heading to a hypnotist to try and overcome her fear of flying so that she could travel with her husband. The dermatologist suggested that she request that getting rid of her warts be included in the hypnosis session. So she did…. result: end of the warts.”

To learn more about other wart remedies we suggest our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies from The People’s Pharmacy. You will read stories about banana peel, garlic, Listerine, turmeric and vinegar, as well as duct tape. What works for one person may not work for someone else.

photo credit: happyfeet34 cc cropped

Rate this article
4.7- 24 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
  • Das BB et al, "Cimetidine: A Safe Treatment Option for Cutaneous Warts in Pediatric Heart Transplant Recipients." Medical Sciences, June 2018. doi: 10.3390/medsci6020030
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.