Gabapentin dosage information, side effects, interactions and indications
August 20 2017 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Gabapentin is a prescription medication that affects chemicals and nerves in the body that are involved in the cause of seizures and some types of pain. The exact way that it works is not known well.

Gabapentin is used with other drugs in the treatment of some types of seizures and for the management of postherpetic neuralgia (nerve pain caused by the herpes virus or shingles).
It may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

Adverse effects, side effects, negative reactions
The most common side effects associated with the use of gabapentin in adults are dizziness, somnolence, and peripheral edema.

Prescrire Int. 2014. Gabapentin and pregabalin: hepatic and haematological toxicity. A review of pharmacovigilance data collected in France has shown that gabapentin and pregabalin are associated with serious and sometimes fatal hepatic and haematological disorders.

Postgraduate Medicine. 2013. Asterixis related to gabapentin intake: a case report and review. Asterixis has been reported as a side effect of toxic and metabolic abnormalities. The current literature contains very little evidence of gabapentin-related neurotoxicity. Our observations reveal that neurotoxic side effects of gabapentin use may be seen even when dose adjustments are made for patients with mild-to-moderate renal dysfunction. Clinical vigilance for possible neurotoxic effects of gabapentin therapy in patients with renal dysfunction is warranted.

For sleep and insomnia
Gabapentin, a drug used to treat seizures, improves the quality of sleep in menopausal women bothered by hot flashes. Journal of Women's Health, 2009.

I began to take gabapentin (Neurontin) for nerve pain due to scarring, 300 mg at bedtime, prescribed by my dermatologist. I researched it and discovered its other uses - as an anticonvulsive (I have seizures due to brain trauma), mood stabilizer and migraine treatment. Besides relieving the scar pain, it has greatly lessened the degree and frequency of my seizures (other drugs had too awful side effects), I've had fewer and less severe migraines, and I sleep much better, with fewer night terrors, nightmares and sleep-walking and -talking that accompany PTSD - all this without any noticeable side effects at all, without making me feel sedated, which is great because I'm athletic and very active, and in terrific health. So of course my mood is much improved - I figured that something that works so well for me must be something my body needs. I found that gabapentin is not metabolized by the liver, and mimics the structure of GABA but doesn't act on the same receptors, and it inhibits the reuptake of GABA in the brain. I'd rather take something over-the- counter than prescribed if the result is the same, but since GABA can't cross the blood-brain barrier, can it have the same effects as gabapentin, which apparently can cross that barrier?
   A. At this time I am not aware of a natural herb or amino acid or supplement that mimics gabapentin. If I come across such a product I will mention it.