Baclofen is a medication used to treat muscle spasms from multiple sclerosis and Huntington’s disease, as well as from spinal cord injuries and spinal cord diseases.
Medical experts do not recommend Baclofen for muscle spasms caused by rheumatoid arthritis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease or stroke, as studies to date do not support such use.
Baclofen is an antispastic muscle relaxant. Researchers do not know exactly how Baclofen works; however, in general, it blocks nerve signals from the muscles at the level of the spinal cord, and can also depress the central nervous system.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Baclofen in 1977 under the trademark Lioresal, which was manufactured by Novartis. The FDA approved a common Baclofen in the 1980s.
Today only general versions of Baclofen are available.
In a case report published in TherapeuticAdvancesin Psychopharmacology in 2014, it was shown that baclofen can be effective in treating dependence on marijuana, especially for those who have long been using this drug. The study also showed that baclofen can help reduce withdrawal symptoms, as well as the effects of marijuana.
A separate study published in the JournalofNeuroscience in 2014 showed that Baclofen can also help people with addiction avoid possible triggers and prevent relapse. The drug works by interfering with the early response of the brain to prescription medications.
Once you start taking Baclofen, do not stop taking it suddenly yourself. If you need to stop taking it, your doctor will gradually lower the dose.
A sudden stopping of Baclofen may lead to a dangerous withdrawal reaction, which can include hallucinations and seizures.
Your kidneys bring Baclofen out of your body. Take Baclofen with caution if you have kidney disease and decreased kidney function, because the drug can accumulate in your body.
Baclofen is not recommended for the treatment of muscle spasms caused by a stroke. Baclofen can cause more side effects in people with a history of stroke.
Baclofen can cause you drowsiness, so do not drive until you know how Baclofen affects you.
Other conditions that you should tell your doctor before taking Baclofen include:
- Kidney disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Attacks (epilepsy)
- Cerebral paralysis
- Mental health or mood disorders, such as schizophrenia
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The FDA has not approved Baclofen for children under 12 years of age.
Baclofen and pregnancy
Studies link Baclofen with congenital defects in animals. Because of this, it is considered unsafe for use during pregnancy.
Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or can become pregnant.
Baclofen can pass into breast milk, so also tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding or plan to breast-feed.
If you are a woman, ask your doctor about the possible risk of developing ovarian cysts during the reception of Baclofen. Make sure the doctor knows if you have a history of ovarian cyst.
Baclofeny recreational use
In numerous online and anecdotal reports, it has been suggested that some people abuse Baclofen for a sense of euphoria.
There is a high risk of overdose associated with the recreational use of baclofen, since high doses are necessary for the drug effect. An overdose of baclofen can lead to:
- Dangerously slow heart rate / bradycardia
- High blood pressure / hypertension
- Hyporeflexia (slower than normal reflexes)
Take Baclofen only as directed by a doctor and keep all other drugs away from children, adolescents and anyone for whom the drug has not been prescribed.
Baclofen: side effects
The most common side effect experienced by people taking Baclofen is drowsiness.
Other common side effects include:
Less common side effects include:
- Visual violation
- Loss of muscle coordination
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Sexual impotence
Serious side effects can also occur. If you have any of these side effects, call for help:
- Thoracic pain
- Labored breathing
Some medications may interfere with the work of Baclofen, and Baclofen may interfere with other medications that you take. It is very important that your doctor knows about all the medicines that you take.
Other drugs that depress the central nervous system may worsen some of the side effects of baclofen. These drugs may include:
- Sleeping Pill
- Muscle relaxants
Do not drink alcohol while taking Baclofen, because it can worsen side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness.
Because Baclofen relaxes muscles, it can cause weakness and imbalance, especially if you have muscle stiffness. Talk with your doctor about how Baclofen can affect your balance.
Dosage of baclofen
Baclofen is supplied in tablets of 10 and 20 milligrams (mg), usually taken equally divided dose three times a day. Tablets have a mark that is a line with an indentation down the middle, so you can cut them in half if necessary.
Your doctor can start with a low dose, and then gradually increase it as needed. The goal is to find the lowest and effective dose for you.
The usual dosing schedule:
- 5 mg three times a day for the first three days;
- 10 mg three times a day for the next three days;
- 15 mg three times a day for the next three days;
- 20 mg three times a day for the next three days.
It may take several weeks to reach the maximum effectiveness of the drug.
The usual daily dose is from 40 to 80 mg. The maximum dose should not exceed 80 mg per day.
Overdose can cause:
- Severe muscle weakness
- Labored breathing
If you think that you or someone else may have overdosed on Baclofen, call your poison control center by phone. For severe overdose symptoms, call 03.
Baclofen: missed the dose
Take Baclofen exactly as directed by your doctor.
Do not take more or less, and do not stop taking Baclofen yourself.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s time for the next dose, skip it and continue the regular dosing schedule.
Do not double your dose to make up for the missed one.