, also known as Betahistine hydrochloride, is a generic prescription drug indicated for balance
disorders like vertigo
(a spinning sensation that causes nausea) and Meniere’s disease (a build-up of fluid in the inner ear). It is a histamine agonist which directly acts on the inner ear
, reducing pressure and relieving symptoms of dizziness
, hearing loss, and tinnitus
(a roaring, ringing or buzzing sound) in the affected ear
As soon as it enters the body, Betahistine turns into aminoethylpyridine and hydroxyethypyridine. It acts directly on histamine receptors found in the blood
vessel walls of the ear. As soon as these receptors are stimulated, they dilate ear’s blood vessel, which in turn improves blood circulation and reduces the level of fluid in the inner ear. The decrease in ear pressure lessens the occurrence of nausea
and vertigo, as well as tinnitus and hearing loss.
Betahistine is also used to treat vascular headaches
Before taking Betahistine, patients need to update their doctor on their medical history, including any allergies
to certain medications, or the existence of pheochromocytoma (a tumor of the adrenal glands). Betahistine should only be used during pregnancy if it is determined that the benefits derived from the drug far outweigh the risks to the unborn child. Betahistine passes into breastmilk and may harm a breastfeeding infant. Patients who are breastfeeding should consult their doctor before taking Betahistine.
As Betahistine can worsen the symptoms of peptic ulcers and bronchial asthma
, patients must tell their doctor if they have had a history these ailments. Betahistine can contain from 70mg up to 160mg of lactose, and can be unsuitable for patients with lactose intolerance (an inability of the body to metabolize sugar found in milk and dairy products), and galactosaemia (the body’s inability to convert galactose into glucose).
Patients should inform their doctor of any other medication they may be taking, from prescription or over-the-counter medicines to vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements. If the patient is scheduled to undergo any type of surgery, including for dental purposes or during emergency treatment, they should let their doctor know if they are taking Betahistine.
Betahistine may react with certain antihistamines like dipenhydramine or meclizine
, and histamine-2 blockers like cimetidine
. However, it does not impair a person’s ability to drive or to operate any kind of machinery. Patients are advised, however, not to perform any of these activities during attacks of vertigo or when experiencing symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
The most common Betahistine side effects include headaches, gastrointestinal disorders like stomach
and nausea, itching
(pruritus), and rashes. As different people react in different ways to the drug, patients should advise their doctor of any other side effects which may affect their performance of day to day activities.
Betahistine is available under the brand name Serc
, and comes in 8mg and 16mg white cylindrical tablets. The medication is taken orally three times a day, usually during or after meals. Betahistine is quickly absorbed by the body, and is completely excreted with urine within 24 hours after ingestion.
In recent research, a new use for the drug has been found for the treatment and management of obesity
. Clinical trials undertaken in Tel Aviv have resulted in volunteers losing up to 1.5 kilograms a week in a twelve-week period, including a developed distaste for fatty foods. In the US, a second phase of experiments found that 281 patients taking Betahistine for 3 months lost 7 times more weight (up to 2.91% of their original weight) compared to patients taking a placebo, without experiencing any serious side effects.
Betahistine has the following structural formula:
• Molecular formula of betahistine is C8H12N2
• Chemical IUPAC Name is N-methyl-2-pyridin-2-ylethanamine
• Molecular weight is 136.194 g/mol
• Betahistine available : 8mg tablets, 16mg tablets