Neurontin, generically known as gabapentin, is a relatively new medication, as Neurontin was introduced in 1993 and its generic version (gabapentin) was introduced in 2004. It is a prescription painkiller and belongs to a class of medications called anticonvulsants. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of gabapentin for the treatment of epileptic disorders and neuropathic pain. Medical News Today explains that Gabapentin works by interacting with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and “altering electrical activity in the brain and influencing the activity of chemicals called neurotransmitters, which send messages between nerve cells.” GABA reduces “the excitability of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain, which play a role in seizures and the transmission of pain signals.” As a gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog, gabapentin essentially works by mirroring the effects of GABA calming excited neurons.
Gabapentin may interact with certain medications or supplements. Because of drug interactions, using gabapentin with certain medicines is typically not recommended, but may be required in some cases. The Journal of Experimental Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics published an article that explains that gabapentin specifically interacts with the following:
- Losartan: is a medicine used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, and to protect one’s kidneys when suffering from both kidney disease and diabetes.
- Ethacrynic acid: is a loop diuretic (water pill) that prevents one’s body from absorbing too much salt, allowing the salt to instead be passed in one’s urine.
- Caffeine: is defined as “a crystalline compound that is found especially in tea and coffee plants and is a stimulant of the central nervous system.”
- Phenytoin: is a medicine used to treat epilepsy.
- Mefloquine: is a medication used to treat and prevent malaria.
- Magnesium oxide: is a mineral supplement used to prevent and treat low amounts of magnesium in the blood.
- Cimetidine: is an over-the-counter medication used to prevent and treat symptoms of heartburn associated with acid indigestion and sour stomach.
- Naproxen: is a medicine used to treat a variety of conditions that cause pain or inflammation.
- Sevelamer: is a medication used to lower high blood phosphorus (phosphate) levels in patients with chronic kidney disease who are on dialysis.
There are also a variety of adverse effects that can occur when taking gabapentin and abusing other recreational substances, such as:
- Marijuana: may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Some people, especially the elderly, may also experience impairment in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination.
- Benzodiazepines: are classified as central nervous system (CNS) depressants and can intensify the drowsiness and dizziness side effects of gabapentin.
- Opioids: are also classified as CNS depressants and when combined with gabapentin can increase one’s risk of sedation, respiratory depression, and abuse.
- Alcohol: can increase the nervous system side effects of gabapentin such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating.
As is true when taking any type of medication, there are always associated risks and potential side effects. To prevent any dangerous side effects from developing it is imperative to take gabapentin exactly as directed by one’s prescribing medical professional.
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