Gabapentin Uses, Dosage & Side Effects

Gabapentin is a drug used to treat partial seizures, pain from nerve damage, and some movement disorders. However, many people misuse or abuse it, which can be extremely dangerous. Read this post to learn about the conventional uses of gabapentin and the risks associated with gabapentin abuse.

Disclaimer: Gabapentin is available only with a doctor’s prescription. By writing this post, we are not recommending this drug. Please discuss your medications with your doctor.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant/antiepileptic drug usually prescribed under the brand name Neurontin.This drug cannot cure epilepsy. It will help control seizures for as long as a person continues to take it.

It is used to treat partial seizures and postherpetic neuralgia (pain that occurs after shingles). Some doctors also prescribe it for neuropathic pain and essential tremors. It is not used to treat minor pain.

Therefore, gabapentin is approved and indicated for managing [1]:

However, it has several controversial “off-label” uses with mixed results.

Gabapentin is similar to GABA but is structurally and functionally different (structural analog). Importantly, gabapentin can cross the blood-brain barrier, while GABA cannot [2].

Mechanism of Action

The mechanisms are not fully understood, but it is known that gabapentin increases GABA in the brain in both rodent and human brains [3].

Gabapentin increases the activity of the enzyme glutamate decarboxylase (GAD), which converts the neurotransmitter glutamate into GABA [4].

Gabapentin is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the brain through the amino acid transporter LAT1 (SLC7A5), which also carries neurotransmitters such as glutamate [5, 6].

Gabapentin binds to calcium ion channels in the brain and spine, which decreases neurotransmitters like glutamate, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), and substance P. This reduces abnormal brain activity that causes seizures, tremors, and pain [7, 8, 9].

Uses of Gabapentin

1) Seizures in Drug-Resistant Partial Epilepsy

Many epileptic patients suffer from drug-resistant epilepsy and require additional intervention to control their seizures [10].

Gabapentin is primarily used as an add-on medication for partial epilepsy, also known as focal epilepsy. In focal epilepsy, the seizures start on one side of the brain, while in generalized epilepsy seizures start on both sides [11,