After dinner tonight, for some unknown reason, I developed a stomach ache. At first, I thought I was just feeling annoyed at the odor of some WD-40, but within an hour I was quite nauseous. I had to move the bicycle with the WD-40 on it to another room, and take my dinner dish back to the kitchen, because all these scents were really making me feel ill. In another hour I was just hoping I could keep my dinner down.
I hadn’t eaten anything odd, so who knows what brought that all on. But, at that point, I was wondering if we had anything in the house that might help. Since I don’t usually have this sort of problem, I don’t often have medicines around for upset stomachs.
But I went looking, and discovered a half-bottle of Pepto Bismol. Then I remembered that I had purchased it while on a trip five years ago. That was the last time I’d had a stomach ache because of something I’d eaten.
I took one dose. The bottle comes with a little cup that holds about two tablespoons: one dose. The taste is familiar to most of us. It’s a slightly chalky wintergreen flavor. Some people really don’t like the flavor, but I don’t have any issues with it. The liquid is thick and you can feel it coating your membranes all the way down as you swallow... and then it does the same thing in your stomach.
The active ingredient is bismuth subsalicylate, also known as pink bismuth. Believe it or not, no one knows, even now, exactly why this compound soothes the gastro-intestinal tract. But it does, and relieves simple upsets, heartburn, and diarrhea. Pepto-Bismol was developed by a doctor, in his home, over 100 years ago, and it’s still going strong.
Within 30 minutes, my stomach was much better and I was no longer on the verge of needing to run to the bathroom!
To be honest, over the course of a lifetime, I've learned that my preferred way to take Pepto-Bismol is the chewable tablets, but they weren’t available when I bought this small bottle at a convenience store. The thing I think is interesting here, is that the product was shelf-stable, and still worked fine, even though it was five years old.
I’ve never had heartburn, so I don’t know how well it works on that. But for the couple dozen times in my life that I’ve needed to settle a stomach ache and/or common diarrhea, Pepto-Bismol has served me well.
There are some warnings about use, which are similar to those for aspirin. You may have recognized that “salicylate” as being similar to acetylsalicylic acid, which is aspirin. So, there are concerns about giving it to children who are recovering from a virus or fevers. Those with an aspirin allergy, ulcers, or other intestinal conditions should not use it. If you have a serious medical condition, check with your doctor before using even this familiar medicine.
The top is somewhat childproof. There is an outer, softer plastic casing on the actual cap with little stop-lock tabs. You squeeze the cap and then twist. The bottle is #1 plastic, and recyclable.
My recommendation is that it’s always a good idea to have some simple Pepto-Bismol in the medicine chest. It really works.