5-Aminosalicylic acid, otherwise referred to as Mesalamine, is a GI agent prescribed to treat colitis.

5-Aminosalicylic Acid

5-Aminosalicylic acid (referred to as 5-ASA and generic Mesalamine) is a GI agent that reduces Inflammation of the Colon.

Introduction to 5-Aminosalicylic Acid

5-Aminosalicylic acid works because it prevents your body from producing irritants that will cause Inflammation of the Colon. This medication is prescribed to deliver relief from Flatulence, frequent need to pass stool, diarrhea, irritable bowels, inflammation and abdominal distress as is often experienced with Colitis or Irritable Bowels Syndrome.

5-Aminosalicylic acid blocks the production of two enzymes, cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase, as well as the production of arachidonic acid. Most people who have Colitis have an overabundance of these enzymes and this type of acid. 5-Aminosalicylic acid is produced and sold under the following names: Apriso, Asacol, Canasa, Lialda, Pentasa and Rowasa. 5-Aminosalicylic acid is sold in tablet, capsule and suppository form. The generic Mesalamine is also available as a rectal enema.

What is 5-Aminosalicylic Acid Used For?

5-Aminosalicylic acid is typically prescribed to treat colitis. It is administered orally or as a suppository. When administered orally, it is usually in a time-released or extended released form so it will work for an extended period of time.

Potential Side Effects of 5-Aminosalicylic Acid

When taken as a suppository, possible side effects are usually limited to GI system, including but not limited to:



Increased Flatulence

All of the above-mentioned side effects are signs of a reactivated irritable bowel or colon. It usually takes a few weeks for the medication to take full effect, so you may need to try the medication for a while before these sides effects will go away.

When taken in capsule or tablet form, additional but unlikely side effects include:



Hair Loss

In rare cases, the following side effects have been reported:






Excessive Sweating


Frequent Urination

If taken in conjunction with Blood Thinners, you may find the effect of the blood thinning medication is accentuated, which can present a problem. If you are concerned about any of these side effects, speak to your doctor.

When using 5-Aminosalicylic acid, you’ll want to take the following precautions: If you are using 5-Aminosalicylic acid in a suspension formula for enemas, be sure to shake the Enema well before using so the medication is evenly distributed throughout. Because the enema can stain surfaces, you will want to take precautions to ensure you minimize leakage or spilling. You may wish to bathe or wash carefully immediately afterward in order to prevent staining on the skin.

Who Should Use 5-Aminosalicylic Acid?

People with mild to acute colitis may benefit from this prescription drug. If you have inactive colitis, you may wish to use this drug for preventative reasons, to avoid relapse.

Who Should Not Use 5-Aminosalicylic Acid?


You should also check with your doctor before taking 5-Aminosalicylic acid while taking the following prescription and over the counter medications:


Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs



Azathioprine (6-mercaptopurine)

You will need to caution when taking these medications with 5-Aminosalicylic acid because 5-Aminosalicylic acid can contribute to thinning of the blood, especially if you are already on a blood thinner.

For more information on 5-Aminosalicylic acid, speak to your doctor or check out the following link from one of the many manufacturers of this drug: http://www.aprisorx.com/index.aspx

For support for those suffering with irritable bowel syndrome or colitis, check out this support site: http://www.ibsgroup.org/

For a medical review of the effects of 5-Aminosalicylic acid on ulcerative colitis, follow this link: http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab000543.html

To read an article about a study evaluating the effectiveness of oral administration of 5-Aminosalicylic acid, follow this link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16625537

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