Is Pepto Bismol Vegan? Does It Contain Dairy?

Updated: Aug 15

Pepto Bismol is inarguably the most popular brand selling Bismuth Subsalicylate, a medication used to treat health issues like indigestion, heartburn, and nausea.

Besides being used to treat these minor health issues, Pepto Bismol acts as an antacid to neutralize stomach acid. Antacids help treat digestive problems like stomach ache, upset stomach, constipation, and diarrhea.


A man dealing with upset stomach

Although medications are generally vegan, most people consider Pepto Bismol a potential exception due to its milky texture.

Have you been asking, is Pepto Bismol vegan, or does it contain dairy products? This article is for you.

From research findings, Pepto Bismol has 18 products, with five only being 100% vegan and the rest containing animal byproducts. Some of their products like the Chewable and Caplet haven't been confirmed to be 100% vegan due to the presence of magnesium stearate, sometimes gotten from animal sources.

Thus, as a vegan looking to take Pepto Bismol, you need to pay attention to the product line you buy. However, this article is here to help you know which products to buy and those to skip as a vegan.

To help answer the question, is Pepto Bismol vegan? We'll start by checking the ingredients in Pepto Bismol. Let's dig in!


What Are Pepto Bismol Ingredients?

Before we delve into Pepto Bismol ingredients, now is the best time to mention that the brand has six product lines available to its customers, including Softgels, Chews, Chewables, Liquicaps, Liquid, and Caplets.

Note that products under a category are produced using the same ingredients. However, the primary Pepto Bismol ingredients are Bismuth Subsalicylate, Polysorbate, Calcium Carbonate, Flavoring, Povidone, Colorant, and Water.


Pepto Bismol Ingredients for Each Product Line

Caplets

  • Microcrystalline Cellulose

  • Sodium Starch Glycolate

  • Mannitol

  • Magnesium Stearate

  • Silicon Dioxide

Softgels

  • Triglycerides

  • Gelatin

  • Stearic Acid

  • Peppermint Oil Aerial

  • Ammonium Hydroxide

  • Oleic Acid

  • Caraway Oil Seed

  • Sodium Alginate

  • Glycerin

  • Sunflower Oil

  • Ethyl Cellulose

Chews

  • Sodium Benzoate

  • Potassium Hydroxide

  • Citric Acid

  • Acacia

  • Coconut Oil

  • Corn Syrup

  • Beeswax

  • Sucrose

  • Carnauba Wax

  • Caprylic

  • Titanium Dioxide

  • Carmine

  • Dextrin

  • Corn Starch

  • Shellac

  • Maltodextrin

  • Propylene Glycol

  • Sorbitol

  • Soy Lecithin

  • Sorbic Acid

  • Water

Chewables

  • Saccharin Sodium

  • Mannitol

  • Magnesium Stearate

  • Povidone

  • Talc

Liquicaps

  • Sorbitol Sorbitan

  • Glycerin

  • Gelatin

  • Titanium Dioxide

  • Polyethylene Glycol

Liquids

  • Sodium Salicylate

  • Sucralose

  • Magnesium Aluminum Silicate

  • Benzoic Acid

  • Salicylic Acid

  • Methylcellulose

  • Gellan Gum

  • Sorbic Acid

A look into the ingredients used in each of these product lines will show a few red flags because some of the elements on the list are non-vegan, while others are from animal and plant sources.

The following sections will explain the ingredients that aren't vegan in the list and those that are 100% vegan. Keep reading!


Worrisome Ingredients Of Pepto Bismol

As we mentioned before, some ingredients used in producing Pepto Bismol product lines are non-vegan, while some aren't clear whether they are vegan, made from plant sources, or animal byproducts. We'll be taking a look at these ingredients starting with Magnesium Stearate.


pink pills: A medication made with Magnesium Stearate
  • Magnesium Stearate

Besides being a common ingredient in beverages and food, Magnesium Stearate is used to produce medication too. In many products, the compound also serves as an anti-foaming and anti-caking agent, thickener, emulsifier, and binder.

Although Magnesium Stearate is generally vegan, it can come from non-vegan sources, as Stearic Acid, one of its vital components, sometimes come from chickens.

We have classified this compound here as a worrisome ingredient because the Pepto Bismol brand hasn't so far confirmed whether the Magnesium Stearate used for their products comes from chickens.

Therefore, any of their product lines containing this ingredient will be a subject of skepticism concerning its vegan status.

  • Stearic Acid

Stearic Acid is a coating agent that is great for preserving a beverage or food's freshness by preventing water evaporation. As a popular compound found in most cocoa products like candies and chocolates, Stearic Acid is also a vital component of Magnesium Stearate.

Though it can come from fats and vegetable oils, you can also get Stearic Acid from the crystallization or fractionation of animal fats' fatty acids making any product with it undesirable for vegans.

  • Gelatin

Although Gelatin generally is a gelling agent for beverages and foods, you can find it in medications like Pepto Bismol. Sadly, this compound has no gray area, as it comes from only animal sources.

Gelatin is a protein obtained from boiling the skin, tendons, bones, and ligaments of animals like cows and pigs with water. Therefore, it isn't a vegan ingredient.

  • Polyethylene Glycol

This food additive helps preserve moisture in beverages and foods, although some drug manufacturers use it to dissolve colors and add flavor to medications like Pepto Bismol.

Polyethylene Glycol can also be present in cosmetic products and comes from several sources, including oils and natural gas. At the same time, it can come from glycerin/glycerol, which can be non-vegan sometimes due to its derivation.

Thankfully, Polyethylene Glycol hardly comes from animal sources, so there are more chances it'll be vegan.

  • Carmine

Besides being used for food coloring, Carmine is a common ingredient in baked goods like cupcakes and donuts, soft drinks, and ice cream due to the red color it gives beverages and foods.

Besides its popularity in the food industry, Carmine is also popular in the cosmetic industry as it serves as a dye for lipsticks and in the health industry due to its presence in medications like Pepto Bismol.

Carmine is a non-vegan ingredient from the Dactylopius coccus Costa insect species extract.

  • Shellac

Although this resin comes from lac insect secretions, it doesn't contain insect flesh. However, Shellac is still a product of animal cruelty, so vegans should do well to avoid any product made with it, including some Pepto Bismol products.

  • Beeswax

Beeswax is a natural wax produced naturally from honey bees. While it doesn't technically contain insect or animal flesh, it inarguably results from animal cruelty. Thus, while it's vegetarian, beeswax isn't vegan-friendly.


blue pills - newly manufactured medication produced with Glycerin
  • Glycerin

Also called Glycerol, Glycerin is an colorless and odorless liquid used for all products, including medication, food, and beverages. Besides preventing sugar crystallization, it helps products retain their softness, sweetness, and moisture while adding bulk.

Although Glycerol comes from plants, vegetables, or petroleum, you can also get it from animal sources. Sadly, Pepto Bismol hasn't clarified where they get their Glycerin from and whether it's non-vegan or vegan.

Therefore, if you're looking to buy Pepto Bismol products as a vegan, ensure you check for Glycerin.

  • Caprylic

The last worrisome ingredient Pepto Bismol used for their products is Caprylic. Also known as a Capric Triglyceride, this compound combines Capric Acid and Triglycerides from Caprylic.

Caprylic works like a solvent and emollient in cosmetic products and comes with many health benefits, including its ability to regulate issues such as skin conditions, yeast infections, digestive disorders, and high cholesterol.

Thus, it's unsurprising to find it in Pepto Bismol products. Caprylic has two primary sources; a specific fatty acid in goats, cows, sheep, and plant oils.

Unfortunately, Caprylic is commonly gotten from animal sources, so the chances of the one used in Pepto Bismol not being vegan is higher.

Seeing as most of the ingredients mentioned here aren't everyday products, it's easy to think they are vegan. Hopefully, you already know by now that they aren't considering the presence of Gelatin, Shellac, and Beeswax.

Therefore, from what we've said so far, you can deduce that Pepto Bismol products are partly vegan and partly non-vegan. So, it's left for vegan users to pay attention when going for any of their product lines.


Inactive Ingredients Used In Pepto Bismol

Besides the unsettling ingredients mentioned above, Pepto Bismol products often contain some inactive ingredients that are fine in the real sense but contain certain gray areas from its derivation. Some of these ingredients include:

  • Sugar

Refined sugar, present in Pepto's Chewables, is one gray area most vegans consider for products like Pepto Bismol because it's filtered using animal bone char. While some vegetarians don't have any problem consuming it, some vegans altogether avoid it.

  • Artificial Colors

Almost all Pepto Bismol products contain artificial colors, which are naturally considered vegan, seeing as they're often synthetically produced. However, the manufacturers test on animals before penetrating the market, so vegans might not want to use them.

  • Artificial Sweeteners

Besides refined sugar, some Pepto Bismol products contain saccharin sodium (another type of saccharin) and sucralose (Splenda). While both artificial sweeteners are considered vegan, unfortunately, sucralose is tested on animals while being developed, which might also be the same for saccharin. Therefore, it's unsurprising that vegans will want to know if artificial sweeteners Pepto use are vegan or not.

  • Adipic Acid

Some Pepto products like the Chewables contain adipic acid, which gives them a tart taste. While it's primarily vegan, some manufacturers of the ingredient use a defoaming agent (oleic acid) made from animal sources during production, creating products made with it non-vegan.

  • Polysorbate 80 (or 20)

Polysorbate 80 or 20, present in Pepto Caplets, is used to mix things like water and oil. This compound comes from animal fat or vegetables, so most vegans won't accept products made with it.


yellow pills on the table