Tagamet is the name-brand version of Cimetidine, an over the counter heartburn treatment. It is also used to treat ulcers and reoccurring gastritis. This medication, which reduces acid in a person’s stomach and upper intestines by blocking H2 receptors, is inexpensive and fairly safe to use, but not a currently recognized wart treatment according to the FDA. Still, many dermatologists are noticing that patients who are prescribed these H2 blockers recover more quickly, even from multiple warts that don’t respond well to other treatment. Read below to learn what dosage to use, what the side effects of Tagamet are, and why doctors and patients think Tagamet may become a commonly used and effective treatment for warts in the near future.
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The Advantages of Tagamet for Warts
While the use of a heartburn medicine to treat warts remains very controversial, the controversy is based on speculations of effectiveness, not concerns over side effects. The truth is that Tagamet is considered very safe for over the counter use and in some cases is even safer than commonly used wart treatments like freezing or acid. This is because, theoretically, Tagamet helps the immune system kill the virus that causes warts with few side effects.
Treatments designed to eliminate warts, on the other hand, can cause:
- burns on surrounding healthy skin,
- and bacterial infection due to skin trauma.
These side effects are common, because it’s very difficult to remove a wart without irritating the surrounding skin. Worse, there is the chance that the infection won’t be completely healed. So, any treatment that helps to heal the source of the infection that causes warts itself (HPV) provides a significant advantage. Read below to learn how Tagamet may help your immune system combat the virus that causes warts, and how to use it.
What dosage should I use?
The proper Tagamet dosage for warts is the same as a dosage taken to treat heartburn and gastric ulcers – usually between 20 and 40 mg per kilogram of body weight. However, you should not just assume you should take the highest possible dosage for your body weight. You should start at the lowest. This is because the highest recommended over the counter dosage of Tagamet without a doctor’s recommendation is 400 mg a day, taken as one 200 mg pill in the morning and one 200 mg pill at night.
So you should consider a dosing schedule based on the lowest recommended dosage twice a day. 1 kilogram equals 2.2 pounds, so proper low-end dosage for weight are approximately:
- 100 pounds: 200 mg/day,
- 150 pounds: 300 mg/day,
- 200 pounds: 400 mg/day,
- with 400 mg being the maximun dosage without doctor recommendation.
It is ok to break the pill in half with a pill splitter to get the desired dosage. Occasionally, doctors will prescribe up to 600 mg for a large or heavy person, but you should follow the package instructions and never take more than recommended without first speaking to a physician.
According to user reports, most treatments continue for a period of at least two months to ensure results, although some have seen improvement or even total remission in as quick as two weeks from the start of treatment.
Ask Your Doctor About Medication Interactions
If you are taking any other prescription medications, be sure to let your doctor know before you start using Tagamet, as it can interfere with absorption of certain medicines. Your physician may advise you to wait an hour after taking your other medicines before you take Tagamet, or to take it at a different time of the day. Also, most medical experts counsel patients to seek the advice of their doctor if they are going to take it for more than two weeks, which you will likely need to do in order to fully treat your warts. If your physician thinks that Tagamet may not be a good idea because of these medication interactions, there are other options for treatment. Read here to learn more about other products for wart removal CVS carries.
There are many OTC heartburn treatments. Tagamet (or Cimetidine) is the only one shown by studies to help get rid of warts. Therefore, other treatments such as Zantac and Prevacid are not good choices for wart treatment.
Cimetidine for the Treatment of Warts
Cimetidine has been investigated for more than a decade in clinical trials to assess its efficacy for treating warts. Several of these studies have been very encouraging with their data, and have even shown potential effectiveness for genital warts. A clinical study in Japan at Nippon Medical School was carried out on 55 patients who suffered from multiple warts in 2003. The study resulted in statistically significant improvement of symptoms over a four month period of time.
Researchers broke the study participants into two groups:
- group A patients who received less than 20 mg per kilogram body weight per day,
- and group B patients who received between 30 and 40 mg per kilogram body weight per day.
Over 34 percent of the study participants achieved complete remission from their warts or vast improvement of their condition, while over 23 percent saw noticeable improvement. The patients who received the higher dosage of Cimetidine saw the greatest amount of benefit from the treatment. Current theory suggests that Cimetidine causes TH1 cells to make IFN-c (interferon) and IL-2 (interleukin 2), which may result in remission of the HPV infection that causes reoccurring outbreaks of warts.
To put it in simpler terms, TH1 cells are “helper” cells in your immune system that produce interferon and interleukin, which are natural substances in your body that kill viruses or stop them from reproducing. The promising results of this study and others have encourage many dermatologists to prescribe the Cimetidine in hopes that the treatment will work for their patients as well.
Can I Use It for Plantar Warts?
People have used Tagamet to treat plantar warts, with varying levels of success. Logic says that it should work for the warts just as well as any other, since all warts are caused by the HPV virus. There are many different types of HPV however, and some types may respond better than others. Research of the effect that Tagamet treatment has on different types of the HPV virus has not been this specific yet. Because plantar warts can be painful, it might be advisable to use another treatment along with the Tagamet, such as hydrogen peroxide, to ensure more rapid results. You can learn how to use hydrogen peroxide for warts by reading here.
Unlike topical wart treatments, Tagamet for warts is taken internally, not externally. Putting it directly on the wart in any form will not help to treat your condition.
Are there any side-effects?
Most people who take Tagamet don’t notice any side effects at all.
Occasionally, users notice a few minor side effects, such as:
These side effects are uncommon, and almost never bothersome enough for most people to make them consider discontinuing treatment. Very rarely, more serious side effects do happen.
You should call your doctor right away if you notice these side effects such as:
- difficulty voiding urine,
- muscle pain,
- joint pain,
- soreness or swelling of the breasts (males),
Even though they are unlikely, if these symptoms occur, they could indicate that another treatment such as trichloroacetic acid should be used instead. To learn more about trichloroacetic acid wart removal, read here.
Very rare and serious side effects include:
- unusual bruising or bleeding,
- changes in heart rate,
- unusual fatigue,
- abdominal pain,
- darkening of urine,
- jaundice (yellow tint to eyes or skin),
- allergic reaction (rash, swelling of nose and throat, trouble breathing.)
Any of these rare and serious side effects are a medical emergency. Users should immediately stop taking Tagamet if this occurs and call a doctor or go to the nearest emergency room.
The possible side effects should not worry most people, however. Tagamet has been proven to be so safe and effective for heartburn treatment that it is approved by the FDA for over the counter sales. This is because the vast majority of the population tolerates the medicine with little to no problems. Considering the promising studies and user reports, along with the low prevalence of side effects, Tagamet may worth a try.