Carafate is a branded medication for duodenal ulcers that may occur due to gastritis. Carafate protects the ulcer from further attack by acid and enzymes in the stomach

Gastritis causes inflammation in the stomach lining and commonly occurs due to a bacterial infection. It may lead to a duodenal ulcer, for which a doctor may prescribe Carafate.

This article discusses Carafate, how it works, and how it may help gastritis. It covers the causes and symptoms of gastritis and tips for managing the condition.

A collage of a person using carafate.Share on Pinterest
Design by MNT; Photography by Douglas Sacha/Getty Images & Lupe Rodríguez/Stocksy

Carafate is a brand name for a medication that doctors use to treat a duodenal ulcer, a type of peptic ulcer. People may also know Carafate as sucralfate, which is the generic name and the active ingredient.

Aptalis Pharma Canada ULC manufactures Carafate, which comes in the form of a liquid pink suspension.

Carafate forms a protein complex at the site of an ulcer, protecting it from gastric juice in the stomach. Gastric juice is a mixture of hydrochloric acid, lipase, and pepsin. Its functions protect the gut from harmful microorganisms, break down proteins in food, and help the gut absorb vitamins and minerals.

However, gastric juice may irritate a damaged or inflamed gut — for example, when gastritis or an ulcer is present. Clinical observations showCarafate inhibits pepsin activity in gastric juice in humans by 32%.

Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining, which doctors refer to as the intestinal mucosa.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), gastritis can cause the following symptoms of indigestion or dyspepsia:

Learn more about gastritis symptoms.

Someone with gastritis may go on to develop a duodenal ulcer, which is an ulcer on the first part of a person’s small intestine.

The NIDDK also states that gastritis has different causes. The bacteria Helicobacter pylori infect about two-thirds of the world’s population and are the most common cause of gastritis.

Other causes of gastritis include:

  • Autoimmune gastritis: In which the immune system attacks the stomach lining.
  • Reactive gastropathy: This results from long-term contact with substances that irritate the stomach, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), alcohol, and bile reflux.
  • Stress gastritis: This occurs as a result of serious health issues that cause reduced blood flow and stress to the stomach lining.

Healthcare professionals may prescribe Carafate to manage the symptoms of stress gastritis.

According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approves sucralfate for treating duodenal ulcers for up to 8 weeks. Duodenal ulcers may occur as a result of someone having gastritis.

Benefits

The NLM explains that sucralfate has the following beneficial actions in an inflamed gut:

  • forms a protective layer in the gut lining, providing a physical barrier between stomach contents and cells
  • has anti-peptic effects, decreasing pepsin
  • increases protective mucus and bicarbonate production
  • promotes tissue growth, regeneration, and repair

A 2020 review suggests doctors may favor proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as omeprazole and cimetidine, for gastritis. However, the reviewers comment that they should consider sucralfate even ahead of suppressing acid, given the drugs’ favorable safety and toxicity profile and superior rates of gut healing.

Cautions

The NLM advises that sucralfate may interact with other medications and vitamins and may not be suitable for some people. A person should check with a healthcare professional before using it.

For example, because sucralfate contains aluminum, experts advise that it can cause toxicity in people with chronic kidney disease or those receiving dialysis. Additionally, they note that the FDA has not established if sucralfate is safe for pregnant people, those who are nursing, or infants.

Dosage

For a duodenal ulcer, doctors may prescribe 1 gram (g) four times per day for 8 weeks, followed by 1 g twice daily for maintenance therapy.

The NIDDK explains that healthcare professionals recommend treatments based on the type of gastritis someone has. For example, they may treat the underlying cause, such as H. pylori, with antibiotics or celiac disease with dietary changes.

2021 research suggests poor dietary patterns and irregular eating habits increase the risk of gastritis. Other studies have found that certain dietary and lifestyle aspects may play a key role in gastritis.

For example, a 2019 study concluded that the following might be significant in avoiding and managing symptoms:

Additionally, a 2021 review suggests that probiotics are a beneficial treatment for H.Pylori infection, the most common cause of gastritis.

Furthermore, beta-glucans may be beneficial for gastritis. Beta-glucans are polysaccharides — carbohydrates — in the cell walls of some plant foods rich in fiber, such as oats. A 2021 study indicated that administering pure oat beta-glucan preparations for 30 days reduced gut damage and other parameters of gastritis in participants with a doctor’s diagnosis.

People should consult a doctor for gastritis symptoms such as indigestion, pain, or vomiting. In addition, ulcers and bleeding in the stomach may cause symptoms such as vomiting or blood in the stool. If someone notices this, they should seek medical advice right away.

Additionally, someone must inform a doctor or pharmacist about any medications or supplements they are already taking before consuming Carafate.

The following section answers common questions about Carafate and gastritis.

How long does it take for Carafate to work for gastritis?

Carafate may take 1–2 weeks to start healing an inflamed stomach. People should continue the medication for 4–8 weeks, depending on their doctor’s advice.

Does Carafate heal gastritis?

Carafate is a medication that doctors prescribe for a duodenal ulcer that occurs as a result of gastritis. It helps to heal the damage to the gut lining. Doctors may also recommend other treatments depending on the cause of gastritis.

Does Carafate heal the stomach lining?

Evidence suggests that sucralfate — the active ingredient in Carafate — heals the gut lining and protects it from further damage due to gastritis.

Carafate is the brand name for the generic drug sucralfate, which doctors typically prescribe for a duodenal ulcer caused by gastritis.

Additionally, health professionals may recommend other treatments for gastritis, depending on the cause. These may include antibiotics, PPIs, or changes to diet and lifestyle.

Someone who has indigestion symptoms or signs of an ulcer should seek medical advice. They must also inform a doctor if they use other medications or supplements before taking Carafate.