Gabapentin is a GABA analogue originally developed to treat epilepsy and epileptic seizures. A seizure is a short episode where there is an abnormal burst of electrical activity in the brain. Gabapentin works by reducing the amount of electrical activity occurring and in this way controls the seizures and their symptoms. However, how exactly it does this is not fully known.
Aside from its use in treating epilepsy, gabapentin is also currently used in the treatment of neuropathic pain and has showed positive benefits for 1/3 of fibromyalgia sufferers. Neuropathic pain can also be caused by a number of diseases including diabetes and shingles. Although gabapentin is only licensed for use in the treatment of epilepsy and neuropathic pain it can also be prescribed to prevent migraine attacks.
Dosages generally start at 300mg and can increase to anywhere up to 3600mg/day.
Mechanism of Action
Though there are some proposed mechanisms of action, there is no real consensus and much still needs to be researched about how gabapentin actually works. According to one study halting the formation of new synapses in the brain causes the resultant analgesic effect.
Roughly 1 in 10 people who take gabapentin will feel some side effects. These include: lethargy, blurred vision, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and peripheral edema.