The United States’ Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Gabapentin in the December of 1993. However, they initially approved it as an adjuvant or a drug that complements the effects of other anti-seizure drugs. (1)

Just a little more than a decade ago, in 2004, the FDA approved its use as a treatment for postherpetic neuralgia or the pain that affect those who have and had shingles. There have been claims that the drug can also treat various types of pain, insomnia and lessen the effects of anxiety. Hence, different organizations conducted many types of research on the drug to test these claims.

Indications Of Gabapentin

Studies have proven Gabapentin to be an effective drug against epilepsy and seizures. Also, there have been other studies that were able to show its potential as a treatment for other ailments such as pain, migraine, anxiety, and more.

Below are the explanations of the most common uses of Gabapentin:

  • Anti-Seizure: Uncontrolled electrical impulses in the brain often cause epilepsies or seizures. Gabapentin works by regulating the rate at which the brain send electrical signals. However, more researches are still needed to comprehend Gabapentin’s anti-seizure properties completely. (2)
  • Restless Leg Syndrome: It is an unpleasant sensation that affects patients which urge them to move their legs. Patients say the movement help ease the pain which they feel.

Other Uses Of Gabapentin

  • Pain Relief: In 2010, the European Federation of Neurological Societies issued a guideline recommending Gabapentin as a treatment for diabetic neuropathy and postherpetic neuralgia. Evidence gathered from new research on the drug were the basis of the directive. (3)
    • Diabetic Neuropathy: the European Federation of Neurological Societies issued a guideline way back in 2010 stating that patients can take Gabapentin as a first-line treatment against this type of pain. People afflicted with diabetes mellitus are the ones that often experience Diabetic Neuropathy. Research showed that those who take the drug to relieve pain could feel a 38% decrease in pain.
    • Postherpetic Neuralgia: It is a type of pain that affect people with varicella zoster virus or a kind of herpes virus. A Cochrane review showed that individuals who took the drug felt a 34% reduction in pain when taking the drug.
  • Migraine: There have been claims that Gabapentin can effectively treat a headache or various levels of migraines. However, the American Headache Society (AHS) and American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has issued a statement saying that there is insufficient evidence for such use. (4)
  • Anxiety: There have been reports of people using Gabapentin as an off-label treatment of anxiety disorders. Furthermore, there have been researches that proved that it is indeed useful for treating anxiety. However, most of these studies have used faulty variables making their conclusions unreliable.
  • Hot flashes:  Recent research on 600 women have shown that Gabapentin can reduce hot flashes among postmenopausal women. Accordingly, the researchers presented their results at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) 23rd Annual Meeting in 2012. (5)

Conclusion

Gabapentin was primarily created to help seizure or epileptic patients. Additionally, some other uses have been found for it. However, great caution must be exercised by anyone who wishes to use it for purposes not mentioned in its label. Furthermore, abusing or misusing any drug may result in adverse side-effects which can be fatal in some instances. With all things considered, always consult your doctor when taking new drugs.

References