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Clonidine

Category: Medicines

Type

Involuntary

Introduction and description

 

Clonidine is unlike other medicines in this section being something of a conundrum. 

It is classified as a  direct-acting alpha2 adrenergic agonist, but what this doesn’t tell you is that it is a partial and not a full agonist and it is ‘non selective’. 

Furthermore it is being used for all sorts of apparently totally unrelated medical conditions [whether this is right or wrong is another thing].  Its uses are, as a drug : 

  • Hypertension - used to lower blood pressure – antihypertensive -  this was one of its first uses and goes back to the 1950s 
  • Menopause - to help with hot flushes associated with menopausal symptoms 
  • ADHD - to treat children with ADHD who suffer from tics resulting from the treatment with a CNS stimulant drug, such as Adderall XR or methylphenidate 
  • Opioids - to help alleviate symptoms of opioid withdrawal - It is mainly used to combat the sympathetic nervous system response to opiate withdrawal, namely tachycardia and hypertension, in the initial days of withdrawals. It is also used to help take away the sweating, hot/cold flushes, and general restlessness. “The sedation effect is also useful although its side effects can include insomnia, thus exacerbating an already common feature of opiate withdrawal”. 
  • Pain - for the treatment of some types of neuropathic pain 
  • Alcoholism - to help alleviate the symptoms of  alcohol withdrawal 
  • 'Night sweats' - for sleep hyperhidrosis - more commonly known as the night sweats.  The sufferer may or may not also suffer from excessive perspiration while awake 
  • Tourettes - used in the treatment of Tourette syndrome  - specifically for tics 
  • Migraines - used for migraine headaches

It has been prescribed to treat so-called psychiatric disorders including  [and I quote] "stress, sleep disorders, and hyperarousal caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, and other anxiety disorders". 

So a hugely mixed bag.

Side-effects

 

Using the eHealthme site and taking a snap shot of the side effects being experienced by actual users of this drug we find that the most common Clonidine side effects are:

  • High Blood Pressure (1,079 reports)
  • Pain  (1,072 reports)
  • Breathing Difficulty (821 reports)
  • Stress And Anxiety (799 reports)
  • Weakness (754 reports)
  • Nausea  (734 reports)
  • Dizziness  (649 reports)
  • Fatigue  (637 reports)
  • Hypotension  (612 reports)
  • Headache  (610 reports)

Follow this link to get the complete picture.

eHealthme case history - Stacy
My daughter was an "A" student in 8th grade and then she went on Clonidine and in 9th grade she had 9 D's. I believe that she is having memory loss/impairment and no one is believing me. Can anyone help me with this? She is now in 10th grade and into 3 weeks on school already has a D and a C- she studies and is very upset with why she cant remember..... Please help! Thanks

Hallucinations

If we now home in on the spiritual experiences and use just the eHealthme site we can see that it has produced  hallucinations - tactile, auditory, visual, olfactory - you name it clonidine has produced it.  There are observations below, but just to give you a snapshot  here are the eHealthme figures for August 2015.

On Aug, 7, 2015: 9,255 people reported to have side effects when taking Clonidine. Among them, 84 people (0.91%) have Hallucination.

Trend of Hallucination in Clonidine reports

Abuse

One of the rather terrifying aspects of this drug is that because it has become known in the drug user community via mostly heroin users, it has gained a reputation – quite incorrectly – of being an opiate substitute.  There are a number of case histories on EROWID that show that people are believing the stories and putting themselves in great danger by using it recreationally!  Follow this LINK

EHealthme case histories - Benjamin
This makes my heart beat irregularly and when takin with marijuana it increases the effects drastically and makes my head have alot of blood pressure. Like I can feel it in my ears and stuff. It doesn't seem to be to safe for me as I also take Ritalin 54mg

 

Death

Using the figures from eHealthme, compiled from ADRs submitted by doctors to the FDA and SEDA, we can also see that it has a rather unhealthy record of deaths as well.  There appear to be children as young as 2 to 9 being given this drug.

On Aug, 4, 2015: 9,255 people reported to have side effects when taking Clonidine. Among them, 357 people (3.86%) have Death.

Trend of Death in Clonidine reports

Time on Clonidine when people have Death  :

  < 1 month 1 - 6 months 6 - 12 months 1 - 2 years 2 - 5 years 5 - 10 years 10+ years
Death 21.43% 7.14% 7.14% 57.14% 0.00% 0.00% 7.14%

Age of people who have Death when taking Clonidine  :

  0-1 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Death 0.00% 4.88% 8.23% 0.61% 4.57% 9.15% 19.82% 52.74

Background

 

The hypotensive effect of clonidine was initially attributed to its agonist action on presynaptic alpha-2 receptors, which were thought to act as a down-regulator on the amount of norepinephrine released in the synaptic cleft.     However, it is now known that clonidine binds to imidazoline receptors with a much greater affinity than alpha-2 receptors, which would account for its apparent effects outside the field of hypertension. 

Imidazoline receptors occur in the Nucleus Tractus Solitarii and also the Ventrolateral Medulla. Clonidine is now thought to act  via this central mechanism.  There are three classes of imidazoline receptors

  • I1 receptor – mediates the sympatho-inhibitory actions of imidazolines to lower blood pressure,
  • I2 receptor – an allosteric binding site of monoamine oxidase and is involved in pain modulation and neuroprotection.
  • I3 receptor – regulates insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells

On Aug, 9, 2015: 9,255 people reported to have side effects when taking Clonidine. Among them, 290 people (3.13%) have Diabetes.

Trend of Diabetes in Clonidine reports

Time on Clonidine when people have Diabetes :

  < 1 month 1 - 6 months 6 - 12 months 1 - 2 years 2 - 5 years 5 - 10 years 10+ years
Diabetes 0.00% 8.33% 16.67% 66.67% 0.00% 0.00% 8.33%

How it works

 

 

 

Why the hallucinations?

Hypoxia – oxygen deprivation.  For details see the section on Hypoxia.  Too much – an overdose in other words, causes low blood pressure – hypotension – and the hypotension causes hypoxia. 

An overdose will be recognisable from the feelings of  lightheadedness.

 

 

References and further reading

We are unable to credit the artists who did the pictures on this page as we do not know who they were.  But we will do so, once we know.

 

Related observations