Commonly Used Drugs
& Side-Effects

Zanaflex (Tizanidine) A muscle relaxant that has gained some popularity among physicians treating FMS. It is sedating and like other muscle relaxers can help with insomnia. But it doesn’t produce deep restorative delta wave sleep. It doesn’t help increase serotonin levels, only tranquilizes the nervous system. For this reason alone it should be avoided. Why not use Flexeril an older muscle relaxant that does promote deep restorative sleep and with fewer potential side-effects?

It is associated with numerous side-effects including liver failure (at least 3 individuals have died from taking this medication), asthenia (weakness), somnolence (prolonged drowsiness or a condition resembling trance which may continue for a number of days),  dizziness, UTI (urinary tract infections), constipation, liver injury, elevated liver enzymes, vomiting, speech disorder, blurred vision, nervousness, hypotension, psychosis/hallucinations, bradycardia (slow heart action), pharyngitis (sore throat), and dykiensia (defect in voluntary movements).

This stuff is poison!


Benzodiazepines: Xanax (Alprazolam), Ativan (Lorazepam), Klonopin (Clonazepam), Valium (Diazepam), Tranxene (Clorazepate dipotassium), Serax (Oxazepam), Librium (Chlordiazepoxide),  Restoril (Temazepam) These drugs are usually used as an anti-anxiety medication. They’re all addictive and patients may build up a tolerance so that it eventually loses it effectiveness as a sleep-aid. These medications have so many side-effects that contribute to poor health that they should be (slowly) weaned off as soon as possible No one has an anti-anxiety drug deficiency. Increasing low serotonin levels with 5HTP and, if needed, using gamma-amino-butyric-acid (GABA) helps prevent anxiety (rather quickly).

Again patients must work with their medical doctor and slowly wean off these medications. There are numerous with-drawl symptoms associated with these drugs, so the slower the better. A big problem with these medications is that they don’t promote deep restorative sleep. Taking 5HTP with these medications can cause next day hang-over symptoms.

Side-effects associated with these medications include: Sleep disturbances, seizures, neuropsychiatric disturbances, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), transient memory loss, dizziness, agitation, disorientation, hypotension, nausea, edema, ataxia (muscular in coordination), tremors, sexual dysfunction, asthenia (weakness), somnolence (prolonged drowsiness or a condition resembling trance which may continue for a number of days),  dizziness, and headaches.


Topamax (Topiramate) Used primarily for adjunctive therapy for tonic-clonic seizures. It is also used for anxiety disorders.

The side effects associated with this drug, especially the fatigue and low blood pressure, prevent the patient from having any extra energy. This will most likely doom you to failure unless you realize that Topamax is dragging you down and that you should consult your doctor about weaning off this medication as soon as possible.

Topamax: drug used to control epilepsy. An off-label drug for anxiety or insomnia which may cause serious eye damage and/or blindness. As of August 17, 2001 there have been 23 reported cases: 22 in adults and one in pediatric patients.  It is generally recognized that post-marketing data are subject to substantial under-reporting.

From a letter from the manufacturers of Topamax (Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc.) to doctors.


Beta Blockers

Inderal (Propanol), Lorpressor (Metoprlol), Tenormin (Atenolol), and Torprol (Metoprolol) Used for long-term management of angina and for mitral valve prolapse (MVP), heart arrythmias, and hypertension. These medications have some very serious side-effects and should be avoided at all costs. I’m always amazed at how many of my patients are taking these drugs for MVP. The best way to stop the symptoms associated with heart irregularities including MVP is to correct their magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is certainly a lot safer than these drugs.

Side-effects associated with these medications include: Congestive heart failure (CHF), heart block, myocardial infarct (MI) otherwise known as a heart attack, fatigue, dizziness, depression, bradycardia (decreased heart beat and function), hypotension, chest pain, palpitations, cold extremities, edema, somnolence (prolonged drowsiness or a condition resembling trance which may continue for a number of days), dizziness, weakness, fatigue, double vision, edema, weight loss, ataxia (muscular in coordination), thought disorder, hypotension,  in coordination, speech disorders, nervousness, parathesia (feeling of pins and needles), memory disorder, visual disturbances, confusion, kidney stones, and language or mood problems.


Baclofen (Lioresal) is a muscle relaxant similar to the natural neurotransmitter Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA). Side effects for this medication include fatigue, drowsiness, low blood pressure, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, depression, weight gain, and insomnia.

Why not use Flexeril or better try taking the amino acid supplement, GABA.


To learn more about the amino acid supplement GABA, click here

Buspar (Buspirone) is a mild tranquilizer and anti-anxiety medication. Most common side effects include light headedness, drowsiness, fatigue, excitability, nervousness, and headaches. Again sounds like a lot of illnesses you wouldn’t want to have. And it is addictive!


Klonopin (Klonazepam) This is an anticonvulsant medication used for seizure disorders. Tolerance to the medication, commonly occurs within 3 months. It is also quite addictive. Withdrawal symptoms including severe seizures, tremors, abdominal or muscle cramps, and vomiting are not unusual.

It doesn’t produce deep stage four restorative sleep.

The most common side effects include poor muscle control, drowsiness, depression, fatigue, slurred speech, loss of short term memory, and behavioral changes.

Complete toxic garbage. Oops. I mean really addictive and dangerous medication that should never be used long term. Klonopin has been prescribed for sleep and restless leg disorder. I find my patients can eliminate restless leg syndrome by increasing their magnesium up to 700mg (until have a normal daily bowel movement) and their 5HTP dose up to where they are falling asleep within 30 minutes and sleeping through the night.


TTo learn more about 5HTP, click here

Xanax (Alprazolam) This is a Benzodiazepine tranquilizer used to treat anxiety. Most common side effects include drowsiness, weakness, fatigue, and mental confusion. Depression, headaches, low blood pressure, insomnia, and fluid retention are less common side effects. Ditto.


Most individuals suffering from anxiety are low in serotonin. If they will start taking 5HTP their anxiety usually goes away rather quickly.


Stimulants

Addrerall (Amphetamine), Concerta (Methylphenidate), Cylert (Pemoline), Dexedrine (Dextroamphetamine sulfate), Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate HCL), Metadate (Methylphenidate), Provigil (Modafinil), and Ritalin (Methylphenidate)-

This medications are use to increase adrenalin. They can be very helpful in increasing a person’s energy. But you may remember the saying “speed kills.”

With the exception of Provigil, these medications are nothing more than various forms amphetamines (“speed”). These drugs are incredibly hard on the adrenal glands. Long term use can cause adrenal burn out at the least and full blown Addison’s Disease (adrenal failure) at worst.

Side-effects include: Insomnia (big problem), Tourette’s syndrome (movement disorder consisting of grimaces, ticks, an involuntary outbursts), nervousness, mood lability (unstable), tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), hypertension, tics, psychosis, headaches, seizures, visual disturbances, anorexia, aplastic anemia ( arrested development of bone marrow), liver dysfunction, and blood dyscrasias (disease).

If the patient is consistently sleeping through the night then it is probably best to wait on weaning off these medications.

If natural sleep recommendations (5HTP, melatonin, etc) aren’t working then patients need to wean off the amphetamines sooner.

When they do wean off these stimulants they will feel very lethargic and even depressed for awhile.

You can counter this by using the amino acid L-phenylalanine at 4,000-10,000 mg, twice a day, on an empty stomach (don’t take past 4 pm). You should increase their adrenal cortex glandular dose to 500mg twice a day. Also consider using S-adenolsyl-methionine (SAMe) 200mg-800mg a day, taken on an empty stomach. SAMe is a serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitor. It boosts mood, energy, and reduces pain.


Cholesterol lowering HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors or Statin Drugs

Lipitor (Atorvastatin), Lescol (Fluvastatin), Altocor (Lovastatin), Mevacor (Lovastatin), Pravachol (Pravastatin), Zocor (Simvastatin), and Crestor (Rosuvastatin) – These drugs can cause diffuse muscle pain similar to those seen in FMS and CFS.

Drugs that lower fats (lipids) and cholesterol have been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers.

* Journal of American Medical Association, Carcinogenicity of Lipid-Lowering Drugs, January 1996


I don’t recommend patients stay on cholesterol medications unless they have familial cholesterol and levels above 300 while on medication. Even so, they should be using nutritional therapies to help reduce their total cholesterol levels.

Please see a more thorough discussion about this topic in my book.

Potential side-effects: Myalgia (muscle pain), rhabdomyolysis (a destructive muscle disorder with usually causes temporary paralysis or weakness of the affected muscle), myopathy (muscle inflammation), renal dysfunction, dizziness, headaches, GI upset, arthalgia (joint pain), flu like symptoms, elevated liver enzymes, and sinusitis.


GABA Inhibitors

Gabitril (Tiagabine), Neurontin (Gabapentin) – these anticonvulsant medications were originally used to control seizures. These medications are now being used to block nerve related pain (neuralgia) including herpes zoster. These medications are also being prescribed for chronic headaches (with some success). I’ve not found them to be helpful for the diffuse extremity pains associated with FMS. They don’t promote deep restorative sleep and can cause many of the same symptoms associated with CFS and FMS. Most patients can wean off these medications and with no problems.

There several side effects associated with their use, including: somnolence (prolonged drowsiness or a condition resembling trance which may continue for a number of days),

dizziness, weakness, fatigue, double vision, edema, ataxia (muscular in coordination), thought disorder, in coordination, possible long term ophthalmic problems (abnormal eyeball movements), tremors, weight gain, back pain, constipation, muscle aches, memory loss, asthenia (weakness), depression, abnormal thinking, itching, involuntary muscle twitching, serious rash,  and runny nose.

Sounds like some of the symptoms associated with FMS and CFS.

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