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What Is Gabapentin and How Does It Work?

Published on Jul 11, 2019   -  3 min read


Gabapentin is a chemical gabapentinoid, or a ligand of the auxiliary α2δ subunit site of certain voltage-dependent calcium channels (VDCCs), and acts as an inhibitor of α2δ subunit-containing VDCCs.

What Is Gabapentin and How Does It Work?

What Is Gabapentin and How Does It Work?

Gabapentin is a chemical gabapentinoid, or a ligand of the auxiliary α2δ subunit site of certain voltage-dependent calcium channels (VDCCs), and acts as an inhibitor of α2δ subunit-containing VDCCs. Despite the fact that gabapentin is a GABA analogue, and in spite of its name, it does not bind to the GABA receptors, does not convert into GABA or another GABA receptor agonist in-vivo, and does not modulate GABA transport or metabolism.

It is commonly used to treat neuropathic pain from shingles and herpes. It reduces the pain by changing the pathway of pain sensation in post-herpetic neuralgic patients. It treats seizures by reducing hyperactivity or abnormal excitement in the brain. It is also used in the management of restless legs syndrome.

The forms available are immediate or extended-release tablets or oral solution. It is excreted through kidney or urine and its half-life is five to seven hours.

What Are the Uses of Gabapentin?

Mainly, oral capsules are used to treat the following conditions:

1. Neuropathic pain including post-herpetic neuralgic pain.

2. Seizures

3. Restless legs syndrome.

Gabapentin is mostly used as combination therapy.

What Are the Contraindications of Gabapentin?

The following conditions in patients need to be taken care of while thinking of prescribing this drug and must be avoided.

1. Kidney issues: Patients on hemodialysis or any other kidney problem.

2. Allergies: Any history of allergy to this drug.

3. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years of age.

4. Pregnancy and breastfeeding.

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Gabapentin?

Every drughas side effects and the following can be seen with Gabapentin:

A. Common Side Effects:

1. Fever.

2. Viral infection.

3. Difficulty in speaking.

4. Presence of jerky movements.

5. Nausea.

6. Vomiting.

B. Serious Side-Effects:

1. It can bring changes in the mood or cause anxiety which can present as suicidal thoughts, anxiety, crankiness, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, anger, hyperactivity or talking a lot, violent behavior.

2. If given in children from 3 to 1 years of age: Symptoms can be aggression, concentration difficulty, hyperactivity, changes in performances.

3. Allergic reaction: The life-threatening allergic symptoms include skin rashes, fever, hives, swollen lymph nodes, swollen lips and tongue, unusual bruising, bleeding, muscle pain, increased frequency of infections.

What Are The Precautions and Warning for Gabapentin?

Since this drug has its own side effects, some precautions and warnings must be kept in mind before taking it. You can consult with your doctor before taking this medicine or if you start getting seizures while taking this medicine.

1. Kidney issues: If there are any issues with the kidney, in old age, people on hemodialysis.

2. Drowsiness: This can be due to slowing down of thinking and motor skills. Hence, do not drive while taking it.

3. Depression: It can give you suicidal thoughts.

4. Allergic reactions.

5. Taking alcohol with this medicine can make you more drowsy or sleepy.

6. Epileptic patients should not stop taking it abruptly.

7. Avoid taking it during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

What Other Drugs Interact with Gabapentin?

This medicinecan interactwith various other drugs and some can be beneficial and others can be harmful. The following are the drugs that can cause interactions:

1. Analgesics: Some of them can increase the side-effect of Gabapentin

2. Antacids: Some of them can make Gabapentin less effective.

What Are the Available Doses of Gabapentin?

The following doses are recommended, but consult your doctor before taking it.

Oral capsule: 100, 300, and 400 mg. If taken more than the prescribed dosage, you can see the side effects and may need medical attention too.

Gabapentin is one of the common drugs being prescribed in patients with nerve pain. Hence, it is advisable to have information about it before starting to take it. You can even consult doctors online to get detailed information about the drug and whether you need to take it or not.


Frequently Asked Questions


Does Gabapentin Work as a Pain Killer and Muscle Relaxants?

Gabapentin is used to relieve neuropathic pain. They reduce pain by changing the way by which the nerves send messages to the brain. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect. They help in relaxing muscles. They work by reducing the frequency and severity of muscle cramps.


Is Gabapentin Bad for Health?

Gabapentin has a serious fatal effect on health as it causes severe respiratory depression. It also produces continuous abnormal eye movement, constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth, nausea, difficulty speaking, drowsiness, etc.


Is Gabapentin the Same as Xanax?

Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic attacks, whereas Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and is also used to treat neuralgic pain.


Does Coffee Alter Gabapentins Effect?

Caffeine reduces the anticonvulsant effect of Gabapentin. It also increases the side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, impaired thinking, etc.


Does Gabapentin Help Insomnia Patients?

Gabapentin produces slow-wave sleep in patients with primary insomnia. They elevate sleep quality by improving sleep efficiency and reducing spontaneous arousal.


Does Gabapentin Increase Your Weight?

Weight gain due to intake of Gabapentin is very less. The weight gain results from increased appetite and fluid retention. Intake of a healthy balanced diet in small portions helps in avoiding weight gain caused by Gabapentin.


Can I Take My Vitamins With Gabapentin?

Gabapentin does not react with vitamins. Only drugs containing aluminum or magnesium should be avoided during the intake of gabapentin. It is always recommended to ask a health professional regarding the interactions.


What Feeling Will I Get After Taking Gabapentin?

On intake of Gabapentin, a person will have relaxation, calmness, and euphoria. The drug also increases the euphoric effect of other drugs like heroin and opioids. Hence care should be taken not to take these drugs along with Gabapentin.


How does Gabapentin React in the Body?

Gabapentin regulates the action of GABA synthetic enzymes, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and the glutamate synthesizing enzyme, and branched-chain amino acid transaminase. It increases the synthesis of GABA.


When Will Gabapentin Intake Reduce Nerve Pain?

Gabapentin starts reducing nerve pain in one to two weeks. It may vary from person to person. And it should not be stopped immediately as pain is reduced. The intake is to be discontinued only on the doctor’s advice.


Can I Take Gabapentin Before Going to Bed?

The peak concentration of Gabapentin is attained in the body after 2 to 3 hours of intake. So if it is taken 2 hours before going to bed, it helps to bring in sleep.


Can Gabapentin Reduce Joint Pain?

Gabapentin has an anti-inflammatory effect, and it reduces the calcium flow into the nerve cells. Thus reducing the pain. Hence it is used to reduce joint pain with other analgesics.


What Drugs Are Contraindicated While Taking Gabapentin?

Gabapentin has interaction with various drugs like Losartan, Ethacrynic acid, Caffeine, Phenytoin, Mefloquine, Magnesium oxide, Cimetidine, Naproxen, Sevelamer, and Morphine. Hence before intake of any medication, should see if these compounds are present in the drug.


How Long Does Gabapentin Be In the Body?

Gabapentin attains its peak around 2 to 3 hours after the intake. In blood, it can be present up to 5 to 9 hours after intake. After which, it is excreted from the body.


What Are the Long-Term Effects of Gabapentin?

The common side effects of Gabapentin are dizziness, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, constipation, etc. On long term use of this drug, it might cause memory loss, weakened muscle, respiratory failure, altered mental status, etc.

Last reviewed at:
11 Jul 2019  -  3 min read




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