Scopolamine is one of the metabolites of Solanacea plant family. The substance itself is an alkaloid which has anti-cholinergic properties. It works by affecting the transmission of nerve impulses in the muscles and in the part of the brain responsible for vomiting.
Scopolamine is used to treat muscle problems, such as muscle spasms or Parkinson-like muscle conditions, but also for the treatment of intestinal problems, especially irritable colon syndrome. The same alkaloid is used to prevent motion sickness nausea and vomiting.
Adverse Effects of Scopolamine
Most of the people using transdermal scopolamine, more than 60% of them actually, suffer from gastrointestinal side effects. As the most common problem, patients reported dry mouth. However, transdermal application of scopolamine has the least reported incidence of side effects compared to other types of administration.
At the site of application, patients may notice some dryness of the skin, rash or erythema. These patients may also suffer from rare and clinically insignificant reduction of blood pressure and heart rate. Genitourinary problems are also very infrequent among patients using transdermal scopolamine patches, but there were some reported cases of urinary retention.
People using scopolamine may also notice some eye problems, usually mydriasis and cycloplegia, which both lead to blurred vision. Some other eye complications might include rare side effects, such as anisocoria, unilateral dilatation of the pupil and very rarely narrow angle glaucoma or esotropia. In most cases symptoms resolve on their own, just a couple of days after the removal of a transdermal patch.
Scopolamine may also provoke some nervous system problems, including drowsiness as the most common and dizziness, sleeping problems, confusion and paranoia as the rarer ones. Patients also reported restlessness, memory difficulties and hallucinations. Among some elderly patients and infrequently among children using scopolamine, there were some cases of delirium and psychosis caused by this medication.
Some patients reported recurrent migraine attacks, provoked by scopolamine intoxication.
Withdrawal symptoms appear only occasionally, in people using scopolamine for more than 3 days. These patients can complain about the nausea, vomiting, dizziness, hypotension, dysphoria and paresthesias of the hands and feet.
When to Avoid Scopolamine
If you are allergic to scopolamine you mustn’t use this alkaloid for any treatment whatsoever.
People with certain medical problems should also stay away from scopolamine. This includes patients suffering from: serious hypertension (high blood pressure), severe heart blood vessel disease, bleeding or narrow-angle glaucoma. Avoid scopolamine if you have any problems with the kidney function, uncontrolled bleeding, blockage of the bladder or enlarged prostate. Patients with diagnosed myasthenia gravis should not use scopolamine also.
Don’t use scopolamine if you experience any severe problem with esophagus, peptic ulcer, problem with bowel motility, inflammation of the bowel or blockage of the stomach or the bowel.