Gabapentin Side Effects and Natural Remedies for Shingles and Seizures

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Gabapentin is used for nerve pain and epileptic seizures. Unfortunately, taking gabapentin comes with lots of side effects. These include anxiety, depression, rolling eye movements, mood swings, chest pain, chills, fever, sore throat, swollen glands and loss of memory.

But you can overcome these side effects by using alternative remedies for epileptic seizures. If you take gabapentin for epileptic seizures or nerve pain due to shingles, this article will help you deal with the problem and avoid the side effects.

Gabapentin is typically prescribed for relief of nerve pain associated with shingles and epileptic seizures. However, there are so many gabapentin side effects that every user should know.

The side effects include anxiety, depression, memory loss, trembling, mood swings, chest pain and swollen glands among others. In this article, we will explore the usage of gabapentin, its side effects and natural alternatives that you can use with fewer or no side effects.

What is gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a prescription medication used to treat epileptic seizures and for nerve pain resulting from shingles disease. Gabapentin is anticonvulsant which is believed to relieve nerve pain by reducing sensitivity to pain.

It is also believed to alter the effects of low calcium levels which would otherwise cause seizures.

Gabapentin is produced and marketed in different forms including capsule, immediate release tablet, slow-release tablet and liquid.

The drug is manufactured under the brand name Neurontin. However, you can also get generic forms of gabapentin. It is prescribed for both adults and children aged 3 years and above.  

How Is Gabapentin Used?

Gabapentin is used for post herpetic neuralgia, a type of nerve pain resulting from shingles infection. It is also used in the treatment of epileptic seizures. Gabapentin is sometimes used in combination with other drugs in combination therapy.

Dosage

Gabapentin dosage depends on factors like age, condition being treated and its severity, whether you have other medical conditions, your reaction to the initial dose and the form of gabapentin prescribed.

Dosage for post herpetic neuralgia

Typical gabapentin dosage starts at 300mg for an adult, taken once on the first day. This may be increased to 600mg taken in two doses of 300mg each.

Thereafter the daily dosage may be increased further up to a maximum of 1800mg daily, taken in three doses of 600mg each. No dosage has been established for children below 18 years.

Dosage for partial onset seizures

Typical daily dosage for partial onset seizures starts at 900mg taken in three doses of 300mg each. This dosage may be increased to a high of 2,400 - 3,600 mg per day. A similar dosage is applicable to children aged 12 to 17 years.

For children aged 3 - 11 years, gabapentin dosage starts at 10 - 15 mg per kilogram body weight per day.

This is divided into three doses spread through the day. The doctor may increase the dosage to a maximum of 50mg per kilogram body weight per day.

Contraindications

Gabapentin is contraindicated for the following people:

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women because studies indicate that gabapentin can adversely affect the fetus or nursing babies

  • Children under 18 years although it is used for partial seizures in children 3 years and older

  • Elderly individuals as their kidneys may take too long to process the drug

  • Those with kidney problems because it is harder to process gabapentin

Drug Interactions

Gabapentin can interact with other drugs including pain medications, stomach acid medications like magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide.

To avoid drug interactions, inform your doctor of any drug you are taking. You should also avoid taking any new drugs until you are cleared by your doctor.

Gabapentin also interacts with alcohol and the two should therefore not be taken together. Interaction can increase gabapentin side effects and may also cause serious allergic reactions.

Gabapentin should therefore only be used when prescribed by a doctor.

Side effects of gabapentin

While gabapentin may help in managing nerve pain and epileptic seizures, taking it can lead to many side effects. Some of the gabapentin side effects are mild while others are serious.

It is also worth noting that different individuals may get different side effects. Adults and children may also get varying gabapentin side effects.

While some of the side effects may lessen as the patient's body gets accustomed to gabapentin, some patients may require medical treatment for the side effects.

Following are the side effects of gabapentin:

Common side effects

  • Uncontrolled rolling or back and forth eye movements

  • Clumsiness

Common side effects in children

  • Crying

  • Aggressive behavior

  • Rapid mood changes

  • Restlessness

  • Hyperactivity

  • Increased body movements

  • Concentration problems

  • Changes in school performance

  • Anxiety

  • False sense of wellbeing

  • Depression

  • Distrust and suspiciousness

Less common side effects

  • Chest pain

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Shortness of breath

  • White spots, sores or ulcers on the lips or in the mouth

  • Dark, tarry stools

  • Difficult or painful urination

  • Chills

  • Irritability

  • Loss of memory

  • Depression

  • Mood changes

  • Fever

  • Pain or swelling in legs or arms

  • Swelling of the glands

  • Tiredness or weakness

  • Bleeding or bruising

Other possible side effects

  • Blistering, loosening or peeling of skin

  • Skin rash or itching

  • Hive-like swellings on the face, lips, eyelids, tongue, sex organs, hands, feet or legs

  • Skin lesions

  • Stomach or abdominal pain

  • Headache

  • Joint pain

  • Muscular aches or pain

  • Confusion

  • Coma

  • Convulsions

  • Dark urine

  • Reduced urine output

  • Clay colored stools

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Increased thirst

  • Loss of appetite

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Bad breath

  • Yellowness in eyes or skin

Other serious side effects

  • Delusions

  • Hoarseness

  • Dementia

  • Blurred vision

  • Swelling of the hands or legs

  • Trembling

  • Difficult breathing

  • Constipation

  • Bloating

  • Back pain

  • Indigestion

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Twitching

  • Poor coordination

  • Increased sensitivity to pain and to touch

  • Itchy, dry or burning eyes

  • Poor balance

Multi-organ hypersensitivity

Besides these side effects, gabapentin can cause the life-threatening, multi-organ hypersensitivity also known as drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms or DRESS.

If you suspect this could be happening to you, call your doctor immediately or call an ambulance to take you to hospital.

It is also worth to note that the duration of gabapentin side effects is not known. For this reason, always be cautious if you take gabapentin.

Especially, avoid activities that may put you or others in danger as a result of the side effects.

Part II: Alternative remedies for nerve pain and epileptic seizures

As you can see, using gabapentin can lead to a multitude of side effects many of which may require medical treatment. For this reason, you should always be on the lookout for these and other gabapentin side effects.

If you notice any adverse effects that you suspect to result from gabapentin intake, consult your doctor or healthcare professional immediately.

You should also consider trying alternative remedies for your seizures or pain resulting from shingles. This topical remedy is a great alternative to gabapentin for pain associated with shingles.

It also helps in other cases including sciatica, sore muscles, arthritis, carpal tunnel and other chronic pains.

Natural treatments for pain due to shingles

Shingles affects about 30 percent of the population at some point in their lifetime. Shingles causes nerve pain besides itching, fluid-filled blisters and fever.

The infection is caused by the same virus responsible for causing chickenpox. Shingles affects about one tenth of people who have had chickenpox.

It is also more common in older people with 50 percent of cases occurring in people aged 50 years or older (1). Shingles, similar to other viral infections is more likely when immunity is compromised.

Additionally, with advanced age, the kidneys are less effective than they were in earlier years.

Considering the many side effects associated with gabapentin, the medication used for shingles pain, it makes sense to use a natural remedy for the pain.

The good news is that there are a number of natural remedies for the shingles pain. These remedies have nil or minimal side effects and are therefore good alternatives to conventional medications like gabapentin.

Following are some of the best natural remedies for pain associated with shingles:

  • Honey

Honey is a known remedy for many conditions with scientific studies proving that it works. Studies done in 2012 found that Manuka and Clover honeys have antiviral properties against the zoster virus that causes shingles (2).

To treat shingles symptoms, apply honey topically to the affected areas several times daily.

  • Colloidal oatmeal baths

Colloidal oatmeal is a low cost natural treatment for itching associated with shingles. Cool water infused with colloidal silver is used to bath the affected area. Cool water is used instead of heated water which would worsen the itch. (3)

  • Topricin

Topricin is an effective, non-chemical pain relieving cream. Because it is made from natural homeopathic biomedical ingredients, with no chemicals or preservatives, Topricin is safe to use on all members of the family.

It is applied topically for relief of pain associated with shingles and other types of chronic pain.

Other remedies for shingles symptoms

  • Acupuncture and Hypnosis

Acupuncture and hypnosis can help reduce the acute pain that occurs during the cause of a shingles infection and the postherpetic nerve neuralgia that follows a herpes attack.

  • Capsaicin

Capsaicin is another natural remedy for herpes symptoms. Capsaicin is the ingredient that makes chilies hot. Capsaicin is also a great natural remedy for the pain associated with shingles pain.

Capsaicin works by depleting a substance that is involved in sending pain signals to the brain. Capsaicin is sold as a cream for topical application.

It is also possible to deplete the substance that sends pain signals to the brain by soaking the affected area with hot water for 30 to 60 seconds.

  • Turmeric paste

Turmeric paste is yet another natural remedy that can help relieve pain associated to shingles. Turmeric paste is made by mixing half a cup of turmeric powder with one cup of water and one to one a a half teaspoon of black pepper powder.

To combine the ingredients properly, boil the mixture for about 10 minutes. Let it cool before applying the paste to the affected area. Alternatively, use this ready to use turmeric paste.

Natural treatments and supplements to speed up healing of shingles

Another way to avoid the gabapentin side effects is to use herbs to speed up healing of the shingles. This will reduce the time you have the attack and the pain.

Some of the herbs boost your immunity so that you end up having fewer shingles infections. Other herbs have antiviral properties and work by interfering with the ability of the virus to bind to body cells.

Antiviral herbs reduce the extent of the infection and thereby cut down on symptoms and the pain associated with shingles.

Antiviral herbs are best used early in a shingles outbreak. They include Andrographis, Isatis, Lomatium and Hyssop. These herbs are usually used in combinations to make them more potent.

Following are some of the most effective herb remedies for shingles:

  • Monolaurin fat

Monolaurin is a fat derived from coconut and processed into a supplement. The other rich source of monolaurin fat is human breast milk.

Monolaurin is a powerful antiviral that is effective against enveloped viruses such as the herpes virus. A typical dosage is 3000 to 4000mg per day. You can try this Monolaurin supplement to fight shingles symptoms.  

  • Lemon balm

Lemon balm also called Melissa officinalis is member of the mint family. It is a broad-spectrum antiviral herb that is effective against herpes viruses.

Lemon balm can be taken both internally or applied topically. Take 3 to 4 cups of lemon balm tea daily. Alternatively, take lemon balm supplement at a daily rate of 4 to 8 capsules of 500mg each.

  • Emu oil

Emu oil is yet another remedy for pain associated with shingles. Many users of Emu oil report that the oil helps them to live a relatively easier life during and after a shingles outbreak.

Emu oil is applied to the affected part of the body at the earliest sign of an outbreak. Emu has moisturizing and healing properties by penetrating deep into the skin. Here’s a great Emu oil product to use if you get a shingles outbreak.

Natural treatments to reduce epileptic seizures

As a response to the many side effects of gabapentin there are some great natural remedies for epileptic seizures.  Natural treatment approaches include reducing seizure triggers, using an anti-seizure diet and nerve stimulation.

Following are some of the natural methods to manage epileptic seizures:

  • Reduce seizure triggers

While it may not be possible to keep seizures away, there are steps you can take to lower the frequency and gravity of seizures. These are generally lifestyle changes and vary from person to person.

Some of the steps you can take to reduce seizure triggers include:

  • Avoid stress as much as possible whether it is physical, emotional or mental

  • Avoid use of alcohol and drugs

  • Take any prescribed medications as directed

  • Avoid over-stimulation that may be caused by overexposure to excess noise, light and electronics

  • Eat a healthy diet

  • Get adequate rest, including adequate sleep at night

 

  • Ketogenic diet

A Ketogenic diet approach has been in use to control epileptic seizures for nearly 100 years. It is not fully understood how a ketogenic diet works. However, in simple terms a ketogenic diet limits carbohydrate intake while increasing fat.

This forces the body to derive more energy from fat, in the form of ketones, instead of carbohydrate.

You can get more information about Ketogenic diet from this Ketogenic and cookbook product.

  • Stimulation of the Vagus nerve stimulation

The vagus nerve is a main nerve passing from the torso, through the abdomen and neck to the head. It consists of nerve fibers that serve many parts of the body, delivering electrical signals between the brain and the various parts of the body.

Vagus stimulation therapy is done using a device that is implanted in the neck. The job of this device is to control the electric energy flowing through the vagus nerve to and from the brain.

The device is activated with a magnet whenever the first signs of an imminent seizure are felt. While the device does not work in all patients, it helps reduce seizures by 20 - 40 percent.

  • Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency can increase the risk of epileptic seizures. Studies have also found that magnesium supplementation can reduce seizures. (4) (5)

Natural treatments to lessen epileptic seizures

  • Valerian

This is among the most effective natural antispasmodic medicines in Germany and Russia. Valerian works great as a treatment for epileptic seizures.

Valerian has been used for hundreds of years to treat various nervous disorders including panic, fear and fainting. It was also used during the World War I to help front line soldiers reduce overcome shell shock.

You can use the valerian herb if you can find it. However, it is easier to get this ready-made Valerian supplement to help reduce your epileptic seizures.

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Chamomile for bath: https://amzn.to/2LjPVdg

Monolaurin: https://amzn.to/2HtztJW

Andrographis/antiviral supplement: https://amzn.to/2JvIToz  

Lemon Balm internal: https://amzn.to/2HhDFHL

Lemon Balm topical: https://amzn.to/2LlWVpZ

Emu Oil: https://amzn.to/2swI3OK

Topricin: https://amzn.to/2kLnlGm

Valerian Liquid tincture: https://amzn.to/2JrCWsV

Ketogenic Information and cookbook: https://amzn.to/2swL5T0

References

  1. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/transcripts/2747_shingles-facts-and-myths

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3401066/

  3. https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/prevention-treatment.html

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3129621

  5. http://www.epires-journal.com/article/S0920-1211(12)00040-X/abstract

 


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