Baclofen review

Baclofen is the generic name of a drug indicated for conditions affecting the central nervous system like spinal cord injuries, spastic diplegia (a type of cerebral palsy), multiple sclerosis (a chronic inflammatory disease of the nervous system), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and trigeminal neuralgia (a painful neuropathic disorder affecting the facial muscles).

Baclofen is derived from gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the main inhibitory neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. It contains substances that bind themselves to GABA receptors in order to decrease nerve activity in the area of the brain which controls the skeletal muscles. It is an anti-spastic agent and muscle relaxant used to loosen up skeletal muscles and to prevent spastic and convulsive movements stemming from disorders of the nervous system.

Upon oral intake, Baclofen is absorbed very quickly and is dispersed throughout the body. It acts on the nerves of the spinal cord, eases muscle stiffness, and enables the muscles to move more extensively and with less pain. It is also used in the treatment of hiccups. Before starting Baclofen intake, patients should inform their doctor if they are allergic to Baclofen, or to any other medications. If they are taking other muscle relaxants, sleeping pills or tranquilizers, they should tell their doctor, as well. Other pertinent information that patients should disclose include whether they have had kidney disease, epilepsy, a history of stroke or blood clots, rheumatic disease, ulcers, cerebral palsy, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease or any kind of psychiatric disorders. Any of these conditions may warrant a dosage adjustment and frequent medical monitoring while taking Baclofen.

Because Baclofen has been classified by the FDA as pregnancy category C, it may harm an unborn baby. Female patients are advised to inform their doctor if they are pregnant, plan to get pregnant, or become pregnant during the course of treatment. It may be a risk that Baclofen may pass into breast milk and harm a nursing infant, so it is important not to administer the drug to a breastfeeding patient. Baclofen also causes sleepiness, impairs judgment, decreases alertness, and causes muscle weakness. While medicated, patients are cautioned from driving, operating any kind of machinery, or imbibing alcoholic beverages, which can exacerbate these conditions. Using Baclofen with tricyclic antidepressant drugs like Elavil and Sinequan can reduce brain functions and weak muscle tone. Baclofan should not be taken with monoamine oxidase inhibitors like Nardil and Parnate to avoid further loss of brain functions as well as low blood pressure.

To be on the safe side, patients should update their doctor on any prescription or over-the-counter medications they may be taking, including any vitamin, mineral or herbal products, as any of these can react adversely with Baclofen.

Baclofen’s side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, weak muscles, some nausea, constipation, and increased urination. However, if the patient starts having breathing difficulties, hives, facial swelling, confusion and hallucinations, uneven heartbeat and even seizures, emergency medical attention is required as these are signs of a severe allergic reaction to Baclofen. Baclofen is available with prescription under its generic form, or under the brand names Lioresal and Kemstro. It comes in 10 to 20 mg tablets, and in a liquid solution (0.05mg/ml, 10 mg/5 ml and 10 mg/20 ml) that can be taken orally or intrathecally (injected into the spinal fluid) for patients with severe and painful spasms.

Baclofen should be taken exactly as prescribed by the doctor, usually 5 mg three times a day, with or without food, as a starting dose for adults. Patients are advised to continue taking Baclofen even after symptoms have decreased or ceased. Suddenly stopping without informing the doctor or without proper medical management can cause withdrawal symptoms like seizures or hallucinations, high fever, increased muscle spasms and convulsions, a breakdown of the muscles, organ failure, and even death. Doctors will usually recommend a gradual decrease of medication before completely stopping Baclofen intake.

Baclofen is currently under research for use in minimizing the side effects of alcohol and opium withdrawal symptoms, and to help patients recover from substance abuse cravings (such as cocaine).

Baclofen has the following structural formula:

Chemical structure of baclofen

• Molecular formula of baclofen is C10H12ClNO2
• Chemical IUPAC Name is 4-amino-3-(4-chlorophenyl)-butanoic acid
• Molecular weight is 213.661 g/mol
Baclofen available : 10mg tablets, 20mg tablets

Brand name(s): Baclon, Kemstro, Lioresal

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