Pepto-Bismol provides effective relief of multiple stomach symptoms. Available in liquid, chewable tablets, and swallowable caplets, Pepto-Bismol treats diarrhea and provides fast relief of upset stomach, nausea, heartburn, and indigestion due to overindulgence in food and drink.
Today, we think of how Pepto-Bismol soothes the digestive system after we've overindulged at a meal. Or, we think of it as a travel companion that can help soothe stomach upsets associated with traveler’s diarrhea. But in its early days, a different form of Pepto-Bismol did more than comfort; it actually helped treat symptoms of a more serious illness.
The formula of the pink medicine we now call Pepto-Bismol was originally developed at the start of the 20th century, when high standards of hygiene and sanitation weren't as widespread as today. Looking to cure a frightening form of cholera that caused severe diarrhea, vomiting, and sometimes death, a doctor concocted a formula in his home that proved effective against these symptoms. The formula (which was different from today's) was made from pepsin, zinc salts, salol, and oil of wintergreen, along with a colorant to make it pink, and he called it Mixture Cholera Infantum. (Researchers would later learn that this illness was caused by a bacterial infection, treatable with antibiotics.)