Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

Antiseizure Drug May Treat Hot Flashes

WebMD Health News

June 12, 2000 -- Either before or during menopause, three of every four women will experience hot flashes -- the sudden bursts of skin-searing heat that can quickly leave the sufferer glistening with sweat. But no one knows what causes this alarming symptom.

The best known treatment for hot flashes is estrogen, but many women are afraid to take the hormone for fear that it may increase their risk of breast cancer. Women's health experts have long been eager to find an alternative, and now a new report suggests that a drug used to treat epilepsy may be the best option.

Neurologist Thomas J. Guttoso Jr., MD, noticed that a woman who was taking the drug for treatment of migraine headaches reported that after just two days on the drug "her hot flashes were gone," he tells WebMD, adding that it didn't help her migraines.

The drug is called gabapentin and, in addition to its FDA-approved use to control seizures associated with epilepsy, it is now used to treat bipolar disorder as well as some social phobia disorders, he says.

Published side effects of the drug include convulsions that occur after suddenly stopping the drug, hypertension, fatigue, dizziness, and a variety of other symptoms. The way in which the drug works is unknown, according to the authors, and they note the need for further studies to determine how it works and whether it can be used to treat hot flashes.

There have been other drugs that work on the brain and central nervous system that appear to reduce hot flashes, but more research is needed before they can be approved or prescribed for that use. It is important that you only take medication prescribed for you and for your specific conditions.

Guttoso, who is an instructor of neurology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, says he thinks the drug affects an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which he thinks has a role in regulating the body's temperature. Specifically, he suggests the drug works on the levels of substances called tachykinins, which regulate the contraction and dilation of smooth muscles. The drug appears to affect the flow of these tachykinins, he says.

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
Is it menopause or something else?
senior couple
mature woman shopping for produce
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
mature couple on boat
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
senior woman wearing green hat
estrogen gene

WebMD Special Sections