The pharmacist is an important specialist in the selection of the drug when the patient comes for
pharmacist’s advice of how to alleviate common gastrointestinal symptoms. Of all drugs which can
be effective in these situations, only three drugs (bismuth subsalicylate, psyllium, and docusate
sodium) proved to be advantageous for selfmedication. Bismuth subsalicylate (BSS) is much
appreciated in the treatment of peptic ulcers where it not only covers the base of the ulcer but also
eradicates Helicobacter pylori. Therefore this drug does not treat only the symptoms but the cause
of the disease as well. Dyspepsia may also be effectively treated with BSS because of its strong and
rapid protective effect on the gastric mucosa. Last but not least, the salicylate component of this
substance and not bismuth alone is responsible for the elimination of diarrhoea in the so-called
traveller’s diarrhoea, as the salicylate decreases enhanced secretion of fluid in the colon. On the
other hand, the natural fibre psyllium may effectively alleviate constipation, because it increases
the volume and weight of stools as well as the transit time in the colon and facilitates defecation.
Similarly, docusate sodium is a detergent agent which facilitates the entrance of water into the stool,
which is then better and more easily pushed out from the large intestine.
gastrointestinal symptoms – bismuth subsalicylate – psyllium – docusate sodium