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How does Gabapentin affect the brain?

Gabapentin is a prescription medication known as a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analogue. GABA reduces the excitability of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain, which play a role in seizures and the transmission of pain signals. Gabapentin mirrors the effects of GABA calming excited neurons.

Gabapentin works by changing the way in which nerves send messages to your brain. When something presses on a nerve, or a nerve doesn’t work properly in some way, the nerve can send false messages to your brain. The brain thinks that a part of your body is being hurt when it is not. This makes you actually feel pain.  By altering the way nerves work, gabapentin may reduce your pain.

Brain cells need to work (fire) at a certain rate to function normally. During a seizure, brain cells are forced to work much more rapidly than normal. Gabapentin helps prevent brain cells from working as fast as a seizure requires them to. In this way, seizures can be stopped when they are just beginning.

We don’t completely understand how gabapentin works in the brain to stop seizures. It probably causes brain cells to make more of a chemical (called GABA) that stops brain cells from firing.

Can I drink alcohol whilst taking gabapentin?

If the gabapentin makes you feel tired or gives you other side effects, then drinking alcohol may increase these side effects. Because of this, we advise that you should avoid drinking alcohol if these side effects are troublesome.


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