Gastroenterology: Medications

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All About Reglan

Many patients are not as well-informed about prescription medications as they ought to be. We believe that the more you know about your medications, the better. Therefore, we have written this leaflet to explain more about Reglan and to explain the importance of taking it properly.

If any of this information causes you concern or if you want additional information about your medicine and its use, please check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Remember to keep all prescription drugs beyond the sight and reach of children when not in use. Store all drugs in their original labeled containers; the place of storage should be cool, dry, and away from light. Always read the label before each use.

What is Reglan?

Introduced in 1986, Reglan is a unique man-made compound primarily used to decrease retention of food and acid in the stomach. This problem is most common in diabetics but occurs in non-diabetics as well. Reglan also reduces esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus) resulting from the backwash of irritating stomach acid into the sensitive esophagus. This often occurs when a hiatal hernia is present. Reglan is used to prevent or treat nausea and vomiting and may be used to reduce a feeling of excessive fullness after meals.

Reglan is also available under the brand names Maxolon and Octamide; its generic counterpart is known as metoclopramide (met-oh-KLOE-pra-mide). While Reglan can be given in both tablet and liquid form, the 10 mg. tablet is most commonly prescribed.

What Reglan is not.

Reglan is non-narcotic and is not habit-forming. It does not cause sexual dysfunction. It is not an antacid nor does it decrease the production of stomach acid.

How does Reglan work?

Reglan stimulates muscular contractions in the upper digestive system, thus causing the stomach to empty its contents into the small intestine more effectively. It also helps to tighten the sphincter "valve" in the lower esophagus that prevents stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus and causing heartburn. Reglan calms the vomiting center in the brain and lessens symptoms of nausea and vomiting.

Taking Reglan properly

  • If prescribed at mealtime, take your dosage of Reglan about 30 minutes before meals. This allows the medication to take effect before food enters the stomach and thus improves the efficiency of the stomach's emptying.


  • If prescribed at bedtime, take your dose of Reglan about 30 minutes before going to bed. Reglan is often prescribed at bedtime to help prevent heartburn during the night.


  • Take the dose as prescribed. There is no fixed rule for the correct dose of Reglan. Each case is different. Initially, your doctor will determine the optimal dose for you on the basis of your symptoms, age, weight, and any other medical conditions that you may have. Generally, most adults are instructed to take a 10 mg. tablet one to four times per day.


  • Do not increase the prescribed dosage on your own. Your doctor will routinely monitor your response to the medication and adjust the dose accordingly. The goal, of course, is to control your symptoms with the lowest effective dose of Reglan possible.


  • Do not miss doses. If you do miss a dose of this medicine, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Although an occasional extra dose is unlikely to cause harm, you should not intentionally double doses.


  • It is safe to stop using this medication on your own. Whenever you feel that you no longer need Reglan, you may safely stop taking it. Of course, be aware that your symptoms may return once the medication is discontinued.
What are the side effects?

All medicines

To limit side effects, you should not take a full dosage of four tablets daily longer than 3 months at a time. Once your symptoms are controlled, try a lower dose or use the medication intermittently on an "as needed" basis to control your symptoms.

These side effects should be reported to your doctor:

  • Confusion
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Severe restlessness
  • Fine tremors of the tongue
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Parkinson-like reactions in less than 1 in 500
  • Muscle spasms of the jaw, neck, and back
  • Shuffling walk
  • Jerky movements of head and face
  • Trembling of hands
  • Tardive Dyskinesia - very rarely Reglan can cause a person to have involuntary movements that may persist after the medication is discontinued Fortunately, this is quite rare.
The following side effects typically subside as your body becomes accustomed to the medication. These effects usually do not require medical attention. However, should they persist or become bothersome, simply check with your doctor:
  • Mild drowsiness
  • Mild restlessness
  • Fatigue
Side effects not listed above may also occur. If you experience any other symptoms while taking this medication, check with your doctor.


This medication may cause some individuals to become dizzy, light-headed, or drowsy. You should be certain how you react to Reglan before you drive, use machines, or do any other jobs that require you to be alert. Reglan is not recommended for children.

No foods or beverages are restricted except alcohol. As Reglan intensifies alcohol's effects, you should not drink alcohol while taking this medication. Check with your doctor before starting Reglan if you are using any sedatives such as tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antidepressants, or narcotic painkillers. Tell him if you are already using medications for nausea such as Compazine (prochlorperazine).

Although there is no evidence of birth defects from Reglan, tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding, pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the near future. You must not use Reglan if you have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease or epilepsy. Diabetic patients should ask their doctor if their dose of insulin should be adjusted while taking Reglan.


Reglan is a powerful drug that may be of tremendous benefit to you. As with all medications, however, side effects may occur. You can best limit problems by taking Reglan exactly as prescribed. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to discuss them with your doctor.

Text & Images Courtesy of Three Rivers Endoscopy Center
© Dr. Robert Fusco, Three Rivers Endoscopy Center, All Rights Reserved

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