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Side effects of Motilium

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Motilium (generic name: domperidone) is a medication which is used to treat nausea and vomiting and some gastrointestinal problems like gastroparesis, which is the discomfort caused by slow moving stomach contents. The symptoms include being unable to complete a meal, feeling bloated after a meal, suffering loss of appetite, feeling sick and  belching without relief and even vomiting.

Numerous attempts have been made by the license holder since 1990 to get FDA approval for drugs that contain domperidone. However, according to the FDA website, domperidone is not currently a legally marketed human drug and it is not approved for sale in the U.S. The FDA took this action specifically because of concerns about some potential serious health risks when domperidone is used by lactating women to enhance breast milk production.

The FDA’s main concern was with the potential risks associated with domperidone following several published reports of cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, and sudden death in patients receiving an intravenous domperidone in other countries. However, domperidone is still approved for use as a treatment for gastrointestinal disorders in many other countries including Canada, Australia, the UK, the EU and Israel. In these cases, the oral form of domperidone contains warnings against use of domperidone by breastfeeding women and note that the drug is excreted in breast milk which could expose a breastfeeding infant to unknown risks, but they all authorize the prescription of Motilium for relief of nausea and gastrointestinal problems. 

Despite its refusal to approve domperidone, the value of the drug has been acknowledged by the FDA and in the latest documents, the FDA recognizes that there are some patients with severe gastrointestinal motility disorders that are difficult to manage with available therapy for whom domperidone’s potential benefits may justify its potential risks. Patients 12 years of age and older with certain gastrointestinal (GI) conditions who have failed standard therapies may be able to receive treatment with domperidone through an expanded access investigational new drug application (IND). These conditions include gastroesophageal reflux disease with upper GI symptoms, gastroparesis, and chronic constipation.

What are the side effects of Motilium

Motilium is not generally used to treat chronic conditions, so the use of the drug will be limited to short-term doses and there are no reported persistent toxic accumulations.

Motilium can produce some mild and short-lived side effects. Generally,these should be relieved as soon as the administration of the drug stops, which will be when the underlying symptoms have abated. The most common side effects are:

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Motilium is not generally used to treat chronic conditions.
  • dry mouth
  • abdominal cramps and/or diarrhea
  • nausea
  • rash, itching or hives
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • increased nervousness or irritability
  • flushing
  • swelling or enlargement of breasts in men taking the drug
  • suppression of the sex hormones in both men and women,

These may occur the first days as your body adjusts to the medication. If they persist or get worse, inform your doctor or pharmacist.

Specific side effects on lactating women

The effects on lactating women include breast enlargement, a nipple discharge unrelated to breast milk production, breast pain or tenderness, and menstrual irregularities. These are caused by elevated prolactin levels that may suppress the secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus, which causes a cascade of hormonal irregularities like suppression of follicle-stimulating and luteinizing hormones. 

Rare but serious side effects of Motilium

Notify your doctor and cease medications immediately if you develop any of the following: 

  • chest pain
  • changes in your heartbeat
  • swelling of the feet or ankles
  • difficulty urinating


Taking domperidone together with CYP3A4 inhibitors like the antibiotics Biaxin (clarithromycin) and Erythromycin, or BP medications like Adizem (diltiazem) and Isoptin (verapamil), or anti-fungals Itraconazole and Nizoral (ketoconazole is a potentially dangerous combination.


How does Domperidone work?

Domperidone increases peristalsis (the contractions of the muscles that push the contents along the digestive tract). It works by blocking dopamine receptors in the gut. The effect is to increase the speed and ease with which food moves through the small and large bowels.

Why is Motilium so popular

Millions of Americans who are suffering from symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) have been trying for years to find the right treatment, and have discovered that Motilium gives them relief.

IBS symptoms affect each person individually and its causes are often hard to diagnose. In some cases, the typical symptoms are loose stool, bouts of diarrhea, and frequent nausea. In other cases, a person may experience the exact opposite, being constipated, along with trapped wind and stomach cramps. Many people report going from doctor to doctor but still being unable to achieve lsting relief.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes persistent heartburn. It is caused by upward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. It causes bloating and irritation.

Motilium can help in both of these cases. Domperidone blocks dopamine receptors in the upper digestive system, which will increase the contractions of the stomach and bowel, helping to move the contents along.  Motilium is also an anti-emetic drug that acts to prevent nausea and vomiting associated with impaired digestion. 

Can you purchase Motilium in the US? 

Motilium is a fully legal drug in many countries including here in Israel, but has not been approved by the FDA without going through the investigational new drug application (IND) channel. In those countries, it can be used for conditions including gastroesophageal reflux disease with upper GI symptoms, gastroparesis, and chronic constipation.

Although it is not available from US pharmacies, you can purchase it from us, because Motilium is part of the national health basket and available to patients here. If you are in the USA you can buy Motilium from us without a prescription. 

We advise you to consult with your doctor before starting treatment to rule out any other gastro diseases and consult about dosage. You should not be taking more than four tablets per day, usually three during the day and one at night. You should consult with your doctor after a fortnight to assess progress and whether it’s necessary to start a new round of treatment.

Motilium can also be used to help reduce nausea induced by taking other medications or caused by radiation treatment for cancer. 

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