Mebeverine: medicine to treat stomach cramps and IBS - NHS

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Mebeverine

On this page

  1. About mebeverine
  2. Key facts
  3. Who can and cannot take it
  4. How and when to take it
  5. Side effects
  6. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  7. Cautions with other medicines
  8. Common questions

1. About mebeverine

Mebeverine hydrochloride is a type of medicine known as an antispasmodic. It helps with muscle spasms.

It can be used to ease painful stomach cramps if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other conditions.

Mebeverine comes as tablets or slow-release capsules (also called modified release). It is sometimes available as a liquid if you have trouble swallowing tablets.

It is available on prescription. You can buy mebeverine tablets for IBS symptoms at a pharmacy.

Brand names for mebeverine include Colofac, Colofac IBS and Aurobeverine.

Mebeverine is also available mixed with ispaghula husk (brand name Fybogel Mebeverine) If you have IBS you can take this to treat constipation.

2. Key facts

  • Take mebeverine 20 minutes before you have a meal.
  • It works by relaxing certain muscles in your gut.
  • Mebeverine starts to work after 1 hour.
  • Mebeverine is generally safe and you're unlikely to have side effects. Some people may get an itchy rash (hives).

3. Who can and cannot take it

Mebeverine can be taken by most adults and children aged 10 years and over.

Mebeverine is not suitable for some people. Tell a doctor or pharmacist before taking mebeverine if you:

  • have had an allergic reaction to mebeverine or any other medicines in the past
  • have constipation caused by a condition called paralytic ileus (an inactive gut)
  • have a rare inherited condition that means you cannot digest galactose (a sugar found in lactose)
  • are trying for a baby, pregnant or breastfeeding

Important

Only take Colofac IBS if a doctor has diagnosed you with irritable bowel syndrome.

Before buying Colofac IBS without a prescription, check with a pharmacist or doctor first if you:

  • are 40 years or over
  • have blood in your poo
  • are feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting)
  • have lost your appetite or have recently lost weight
  • are looking pale and feeling tired
  • have unusual vaginal bleeding or vaginal discharge
  • have (or think you may have) food poisoning, especially if you have recently travelled abroad

4. How and when to take it

Doses vary depending on whether you are taking tablets, capsules or liquid. Try to space doses evenly throughout the day.

Standard-release tablets (135mg): the usual dose is 1 tablet, taken 3 times a day

Slow-release capsules (200mg): the usual dose is 1 tablet, taken twice a day

How to take it

It's best to take your mebeverine 20 minutes before a meal. If you take it twice a day, take it before breakfast and dinner. If you take it 3 times a day, take it before breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Swallow the tablet or capsule whole with a drink of water.

How long will I take it for?

You will usually only take mebeverine if you are having a flare-up of your IBS symptoms. Stop taking mebeverine when you feel better. This may take up to 2 weeks.

Talk to a doctor if your symptoms are no better after taking mebeverine for 2 weeks, or if they get worse at any time.

What if I forget to take it?

If you miss a dose of mebeverine, skip the missed dose and take the next one as usual.

Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.

If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.

What if I take too much?

If you take too much mebeverine by accident, it is unlikely to harm you.

Speak to a pharmacist or doctor if you're worried.

5. Side effects

Like all medicines, mebeverine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Any side effects are likely to be mild and will usually pass quickly.

It happens rarely, but some people may get a mild itchy skin rash or swelling.

If this happens to you, it may help to take an antihistamine, which you can buy from a pharmacy. Check with a pharmacist to see what type is suitable for you.

Stop taking mebeverine if this side effect bothers you or does not go away. Ask a pharmacist or doctor whether they can recommend a different medicine.

Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases, mebeverine can cause a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

  • you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
  • you're wheezing
  • you get tightness in the chest or throat
  • you have trouble breathing or talking
  • your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling

You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.

These are not all the side effects of mebeverine. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.

Information:

You can report any suspected side effect to the .

6. Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Mebeverine is not usually recommended in pregnancy. This is because there is not enough information to say whether it is safe or not.

If you're trying to get pregnant or you're already pregnant, talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible risks of taking mebeverine.

Find out more about on the best use of medicine in pregnancy (BUMPS) website.

Mebeverine and breastfeeding

It is usually safe to breastfeed while taking mebeverine.

Some of the medicine may pass into your breast milk. However, this is in small amounts and unlikely to harm your baby.

Talk to a doctor if you want to breastfeed while taking mebeverine. They can advise you on what's best for you and your baby.

Non-urgent advice: Talk to a doctor if you're:

  • trying to get pregnant
  • pregnant
  • breastfeeding

7. Cautions with other medicines

It's safe to take mebeverine with most prescription medicines, and everyday painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen.

However, it's generally best not to take it together with other IBS remedies, as these medicines work in the same way.

Do not take more than 1 IBS remedy at a time, unless a doctor advises otherwise. You're unlikely to get extra relief for your symptoms, and it may cause more side effects.

Mixing mebeverine with herbal remedies and supplements

There's very little information about taking herbal medicines and supplements with mebeverine.

Important

For safety, tell a doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.

8. Common questions

How does it work?

Mebeverine is a type of medicine called an antispasmodic. If your intestine goes into spasm and squeezes too tightly, you get pain.

Mebeverine works by relaxing the muscles in your intestine. This relieves the cramps and pain that can be caused by IBS or other conditions.

How long does it take to work?

Mebeverine starts to work after 1 hour. You should feel better 1 to 3 hours after taking it.

How long will I take it for?

You will usually only take mebeverine when you have a flare-up of symptoms. You can stop taking mebeverine when you feel better. This may take up to 2 weeks.

If you do not get better within 2 weeks of taking mebeverine, or get worse at any time, talk to a doctor.

Are there other IBS remedies?

There are other treatments that you can take for IBS, including peppermint oil and Buscopan (hyoscine butylbromide).

These are also antispasmodics and work in a similar way to mebeverine. They relax your stomach muscles to ease painful cramps.

Both peppermint oil and Buscopan (hyoscine butylbromide) are available to buy from pharmacies. Buscopan is also available on prescription.

Does mebeverine have laxative effects?

No, mebeverine does not have a laxative effect when taken on its own.

However, you can get a combination of mebeverine with ispaghula husk (brand name Fybogel Mebeverine). This can help with constipation related to IBS.

This medicine is available to buy from pharmacies.

Can I drink alcohol with it?

Yes, you can drink alcohol with mebeverine.

Does it cause weight loss or weight gain?

No, mebeverine does not cause you to lose or gain weight.

Are there foods and drinks I should avoid?

You can eat and drink normally while taking mebeverine.

Will it affect my contraception?

Mebeverine does not affect any type of contraception, including the contraceptive pill or emergency contraception.

Will it affect my fertility?

There's no firm evidence to suggest that taking mebeverine will reduce fertility in men or women.

Can I drive or ride a bike?

Yes, you can. Mebeverine does not affect you being able to drive or cycle.

Can lifestyle changes help with stomach cramps?

There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to prevent or ease IBS or painful stomach cramps.

It can really help to understand which, if any, foods trigger your cramps and then reduce or remove them from your diet.

Common triggers may include caffeine, fizzy drinks and fried food.

It can also help to control your stress levels – for example, by doing breathing exercises or trying relaxation therapy such as yoga or meditation.

Regular activity is good for your digestive system. Aim to exercise 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes.

Useful resources

Page last reviewed: 18 December 2019
Next review due: 18 December 2022