9 Surprising Uses for Gabapentin – From Hot Flashes to Social Anxiety

1) Pain after surgery

Taking gabapentin before surgery may help reduce pain after surgery. In research studies, 600 mg of gabapentin two hours before surgery was shown to lessen pain and the use of opioid pain medications after surgery, especially major spine surgery.

2) Alcohol withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal happens when you’ve become dependent on regular alcohol consumption and abruptly reduce or stop drinking. Withdrawal can be extremely painful, resulting in symptoms like seizures, hallucinations, heart palpitations and vomiting.

Benzodiazepine drugs like Librium and Ativan are often used to treat these symptoms, but gabapentin is emerging as a possible alternative, especially considering that benzodiazepines come with their own risk of addiction. In addition to helping with actual alcohol withdrawal symptoms, gabapentin may work to diminish cravings and improve the chances of quitting alcohol.

3) Cannabis withdrawal

In research studies, gabapentin reduced cannabis withdrawal symptoms in as few as three weeks of taking the prescription drug. Despite misconceptions that marijuana is not addictive, the CDC estimates that 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. As with alcohol addiction, abruptly stopping cannabis can cause some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including difficulty sleeping, mood swings and cold sweats.

4) Nighttime hot flashes from menopause

Gabapentin may help women going through menopause who experience hot flashes predominantly at night. The initial dose is 300 mg of gabapentin at night, but your doctor might increase the dose if it’s not effective for you.

5) Restless leg syndrome

An extended-release form of gabapentin known as Horizant (gabapentin enacarbil) may help to reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, a condition characterized by an almost irresistible urge to move the legs, which occurs in up to 10% of the US population. Many people with restless leg syndrome experience limb movements every 15 to 40 seconds during sleep. In studies, gabapentin was able to reduce how many times these movements disrupted sleep.

6) Chronic vaginal or pelvic pain

Myofascial pelvic pain syndrome (MPPS) causes chronic, tender pain in the muscles of the pelvis. Gabapentin might be helpful here. In a clinical study, gabapentin at bedtime (or up to three times daily) was found to reduce moderate to severe pelvic or vaginal pain that interfered with sleep.

7) Headaches after a concussion

Could gabapentin help with concussions? A very recent study showed that taking gabapentin in the first two days after a sports-related concussion led to a reduction in short-term headaches.

8) Itchy skin

Chronic itchy skin can be difficult to treat as over-the-counter antihistamines and topical medications can often be ineffective. Gabapentin has been found in research studies to be a promising alternative, especially in patients who don’t respond to traditional treatments. In one study, daily doses of gabapentin improved itchy skin within a month.

9) Social phobia

Social phobia, a persistent fear of social or performance situations, can be debilitating for folks. Gabapentin, which looks a lot like the natural neurotransmitter, GABA, that controls anxiety, has been found to be helpful in patients with social phobia.

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