Many people suffering with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome take the prescription drug Gabapentin (Neurontin), to help them manage symptoms of epileptic seizure and pain. (The epileptic seizure disturbance often shows up as sleep dysfunction, e.g. sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.) According to the LA Times and Cell, a study performed in mice and in cell cultures suggests that the drug halts the formation of brain synapses, or nerve connections in the brain.
The article goes on to explain how this can end badly for a fetus or young child, whose brain is still developing.
Stanford University researchers examined the interaction between neurons and brain cells called astrocytes. Previous studies showed that a protein that astrocytes secrete, thrombospondin, is critical to the formation of the brain’s circuitry. In the study, researchers found that thrombospondin binds to a receptor, called alpha2delta-1, on the outer membrane of neurons. In a study in mice, they showed that the neurons that lacked alpha2delta-1 could not form brain synapses in response to the presence of thrombospondin.
What I suggest is that because of this unnatural action of the brain and thrombospondin and the possible resulting brain dysfunction, if you suffer with immune system deficiency of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or brain fog of Fibromyalgia, Gabapentin or Neurontin may not be your best, first-line drug of choice. It’s logical to see that you could add to your symptom load if you continue taking this prescription drug.
By taking Neurontin or Gabapentin, you may interfere with the creation of critical brain synapses (connections) that you need for proper memory and cognition.
Most of us know how fragile our brains really are. A good sized bump or bruise to the head and our lives can be in danger. Too much anesthesia or a drug interaction during surgery and you may not wake up at all. Truly, anything that negatively interferes with how our brains function must be suspected, researched, reported and avoided, if at all possible.
In a person suffering with Fibromyalgia (FMS) or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), I propose that taking this drug could produce these types of problems:
#1: in thinking or not being able to think clearly (*The simplest form of brain fog is certainly a big enough reason to be concerned about this drug!);
#2: in being able to make solid, long term memories that “stick” with you as opposed to the more fragile ones that come and go too easily (Think of that memory last week that you know is somewhere in the recesses of your brain, but you can’t recall or use it);
#3: in being mentally incapacitated and unable to function at even a semi-normal level (e.g. when you feel so badly that you cannot actually think at all. You’re numb.);
#4: in being able to use your brain power to reason logically through a challenge or problem (e.g. a tax or financial problem, a lively family discussion when you need to take one side or the other, etc.); and
#5: in demonstrating the ability to care what happens in a stressful situation; oppositely, being unconcerned about the outcome (e.g. possibly this could indicate a level of emotional withdrawal or detachment. Possibly, it could be the final health insult experienced by an extremely sick person, who feels incapable of hanging onto life any longer. Such reactions can be part of serious emotional problems like chronic depression and suicide.)
*The truth applies to every one of these examples. Imagine… brain fog raising its uncooperative little hand and smiting you down to the ground. Whap! Right across the face. Yes, at its worst, brain fog is incredibly tough and a much more difficult symptom to deal with than some of the other symptoms.
These are only a few suggestions of how taking a powerful drug like Neurontin might affect you or someone you love. If your brain is not functioning normally, who can say what is the cause? What is really happening? What if you are exhibiting signs of the 5 problems mentioned above? What if you’re having a reaction to Neurontin or some other drug? I cannot answer your questions, but do address them with your doctor.
This is an important enough issue to study in Cell. Then take whatever action steps are necessary to fix the problem. The goal here is safeguarding your present and long term physical and mental health against whatever ill comes your way, be it a bacterial or viral agent, a traumatic injury or a plain ole’ everyday prescription drug.
Note: If you research and decide that you don’t have these problems, you may decide to take Neurontin for epileptic seizure control and/or pain management. The risk of taking it may be worth the reward. Each person goes through his or her own process when disease enters the picture and walks a solitary road.