If you are suffering from fibromyalgia syndrome, it is important to stay abreast of any new developments in the field of fibromyalgia treatment. New treatment protocols are being designed every day, and the latest medications are flying off the shelves. One new medication for treating fibromyalgia is dextromethorphan. Though still involved in clinical trials, Dextromethorphan promises to help relieve the pain of fibromyalgia and may even help in determining the cause for the disease. Be sure to find out more about dextromethorphan from your health care practitioner at your next appointment.
What is Dextromethorphan?
Dextromethorphan is a common medicinal treatment found in numerous cough and cold remedies. It is available at most pharmacies and drugstores without a prescription. Found in more than 125 different types of cough and cold medicines, dextromethorphan works by suppressing the part of the brain responsible for the coughing reflex. This allows you to stop coughing and rest when you are ill. As with most over-the-counter cold remedies, dextromethorphan can be taken in both tablet and liquid forms.
What Is Dextromethorphan Used to Treat?
Dextromethorphan is commonly helpful in treating:
- mild cough
- cold symptoms
- flu symptoms
- chronic cough
It is not used to treat cough conditions including bronchitis, smokers cough, or emphysema. These conditions require that you cough in order to break up excess mucus caught in the chest.
What are the Side Effects of Dextromethorphan?
The side effects of dextromethorphan are typically mild, and may include:
Only when there is an allergic reaction, or when abused, does dextromethorphan cause severe side effects.
How Can Dextromethorphan Help Fibromyalgia
While a cough medicine does not seem like it would be much help to those with fibromyalgia symptoms, recent studies suggest that dextromethorphan may actually be a suitable treatment for fibromyalgia patients. In particular, dextromethorphan is thought to be able to relieve:
Dextromethorphan treatment may also help to pinpoint the true cause of fibromyalgia syndrome, allowing for the development of new, more effective treatments.
How Does Dextromethorphan Work?
When it comes to treating fibromyalgia, dextromethorphan works by targeting the central nervous system. For some reason, fibromyalgia patients experience pain sensations that often snowball, becoming very painful. A mere tap on the shoulder can set you off, and then, any future bumps or bruises cause this pain to magnify. Fibromyalgia health care providers often refer to this as the "windup".
This wind up is believed to occur in the central nervous system, and is probably caused by faulty pain messages that are sent between the brain and spinal cord. Dextromethorphan appears to prevent this "wind up" by blocking pain messages from being sent to the brain and spinal cord. In particular, dextromethorphan works on N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), a chemical that transports pain signals from the brain to the spinal cord.
The Dextromethorphan Studies
Studies analyzing the effects of dextromethorphan on fibromyalgia patients were performed by the University of Florida. Published in the Journal of Pain, these studies suggest that dextromethorphan may be extremely effective in the fight against fibromyalgia pain.
The studies involved 24 women, including 14 suffering from fibromyalgia. Each woman was giving continual taps on the head (using a rubber-tipped or heat-tipped, probe) in order to engage her pain reflexes. The force of the taps and the heat of the probe were adjusted to be exactly the same on each study participant, to ensure that pain sensations were the same. The women were divided into three groups with the first receiving 60 milligrams of dextromethorphan, the second 90 milligrams of the drug, and the final group a placebo tablet. After being administered the drug, the study participants were asked to rate their pain sensations.
Upon completion of the study, it was shown that the participants that received dextromethorphan had much lower pain sensations than those who received the placebo drug. Those who received a dosage of 90 milligrams experienced the greatest pain improvement.
Who Shouldn’t Use Dextromethorphan?
Dextromethorphan should not be taken by all fibromyalgia patients. Those who are currently taking MAOI antidepressants should not take dextromethorphan as the two react badly together. Pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding should also avoid dextromethorphan.