Whether you weight-lift, sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, do manual labor, or have suffered some kind of muscle-related injury, muscle-relaxants are often used as a first-line treatment.
One of the most commonly prescribed muscle-relaxants is Cyclobenzaprine.
Despite it’s popularity, however, there isn’t much in the way of accurate, research-based information out there. Just a lot of drug-company propaganda which tends to leave out the side effects and focus solely on the benefits.
Well, not to worry…
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about Cyclobenzaprine including:
- What It Is
- How It Works
- Safety/Side Effects
- Alternative Treatments
As well as a whole lot more useful information you won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re considering taking Cyclobenzaprine, you’ll definitely want to read this article first.
Let’s get started…
What Is Cyclobenzaprine?
Cyclobenzaprine is a skeletal muscle relaxant which was originally developed by Johnson & Johnson.
The patent on the original Cyclobenzaprine has long-since expired, so it’s commonly sold in the generic form (labeled Cyclobenzaprine), but is (or has been) marketed under the brand names:
- Flexeril (discontinued)
Although there are other prescription muscle relaxants such as:
Cyclobenzaprine has by far the most research and efficacy data, so it makes up the largest fraction of the prescriptions written for skeletal-muscle pain related health issues in the US.
Not to mention, the potential for abuse is lower than drugs like Carisoprodol (sold under the brand name Soma).
When it comes to muscle relaxants, Cyclobenzaprine is about as good as it gets.
Now, for the obvious question…
How Does Cyclobenzaprine Work?
Although Cyclobenzaprine was originally thought to work by agonizing alpha-adrenergic receptors and reducing the activity of Noradrenaline, research has revealed that this isn’t the primary mechanism of action.
If that seems at all confusing, let me simplify it for you…
Cyclobenzaprine relaxes your muscles by blocking nerve impulses that typically result in spasms and stiffness.
Assuming that you’re using the correct dosage, that is.
Using a dosage that’s too low won’t do anything, but using a dosage that’s too high can easily result in negative side effects.
The good thing about Cyclobenzaprine is that studies have used a range of different dosages in order to test both efficacy and safety.
- At 2.5mg/day, it doesn’t do much.
- At 5-10mg/day, however, it’s quite effective.
Interestingly, the muscle-relaxing properties of 5mg vs 10mg are roughly the same.
The effects of many medications are ‘dose-dependent’, meaning the higher the dose, the more effective the drug.
Cyclobenzaprine is like that, though.
Research indicates that higher doses don’t necessarily provide greater benefits, but they do increase the likelihood of experiencing unwanted side effects.
What might those be?
Let’s talk about it…
Cyclobenzaprine Side Effects And Safety
You may not think a ‘muscle-relaxant’ can have an impact on the way your brain works, but think again…
Cyclobenzaprine can put you out of commission, both physically and mentally.
Sedation is the most common side effect caused by Cyclobenzaprine. This may not be a bad thing when taken before bed, but taken before driving to work?
Well, you get the idea.
Other common side effects of Cyclobenzaprine include:
- Dry Mouth
- Weakness (in the muscles)
- Next-Day Grogginess (if taken before bed)
Some of these are more common than others, though.
For example, most people will probably wake up a little groggy,with a dry mouth if they take Cyclobenzaprine before bed, but if you’ve got a ‘tough stomach’ (like me), you probably won’t get nauseous from taking it.
Still, it’s worth weighing all the potential side effects against the benefits before taking any drug and Cyclobenzaprine is no exception.
Just because it doesn’t have a particularly high potential for abuse doesn’t mean it it’s entirely safe for everyone.
In fact, Cyclobenzaprine is on a list of drugs along with
Needless to say, this is extremely rare with Cyclobenzaprine, but it goes to show you:
This drug is no joke and should not be taken less seriously than other drugs that are recognized by the government as potentially dangerous or abusive.
Combining Cyclobenzaprine With Other Drugs Or Supplements?
Sometimes physicians prescribe a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammtory Drug (NSAID) such as Aspirin with Cyclobenzaprine, but for the most part, it’s probably not a good idea to combine it with other substances.
Any kind of:
- depressant (alcohol, xanax, etc.)
- anti-depressant (SSRIs, MAOIs)
Could potentially pose some serious health risks.
As far as combining it with supplements…
Well, that’s kind of uncharted territory.
No studies have investigated the impact of a combination of Cyclobenzaprine and any kind of supplement, so there’s really no way of determining the potential impact.
If you’re taking Cyclobenzaprine for muscle-related issues, don’t take anything else on top of it. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, for whatever reason, try something different.
Mixing drugs with drugs (or supplements with drugs) can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Best to avoid doing that…
Cyclobenzaprine is not currently scheduled in the US under federal law and is therefore not considered a “controlled substance”.
The Controlled Substance Act (CSA) was signed and placed into effect in 1970 by president Richard Nixon (who was one of the few presidents to actually be impeached and kicked out of office, by the way).
The point of the CSA was to organize substances (drugs) into 5 schedules, depending on their perceived medical use, abuse potential, and addiction potential.
Schedule 1 is reserved for drugs with either no legitimate medical use or a high potential for abuse. This includes drugs like
- Marijuana (obviously a mistake)
Shedule 5 is reserved for drugs like
Other than Robitussin (which can easily be abused by kids looking or cheap, trippy high), these drugs are considered pretty harmless and have legitimate medical uses.
The CSA also introduced a way of “controlling” substances by:
- Scheduling new substances
- Unscheduling scheduled drugs
- Switching drugs from one schedule to another
Despite these types of regulations, however, new drugs continue to come out all the time that remain unscheduled, meaning they’re not technically illegal to possess, buy, or sell.
Unscheduled drugs, however, cannot be sold for the purposes of human consumption without a valid prescription.
Cyclobenzaprine remains unscheduled, so it’s technically legal to buy, sell, or possess, just not for ‘human consumption’ *wink wink*.
In other words, you can get your hands on it pretty easily from online vendors as a research chemical.
Then again, given it’s low potential for abuse, you could also just as easily get it from your doctor.
Alternatives To Cyclobenzaprine
Most drugs and/or supplements that reduce Central Nervous System (CNS) activity tend to have some capacity to relax the muscles.
This includes drugs like:
And many others, of course.
Interestingly, out of all of these, Etizolam (primarily used for managing anxiety, stress, and insomnia) appears to have the highest affinity for muscle-relaxation.
Other alternative treatments that may help with muscle relaxation and skeletal muscle pain include:
Of course, just as new drugs are always being developed to treat whatever ails you, alternative (homeopathic) treatments are constantly evolving as well.
There may very well be hundreds of different natural substances that could potentially help manage muscle pain, stiffness, and immobility, but the ones mentioned above have a some actual scientific research behind them.
If Cyclobenzaprine just isn’t working for you, you may want to consider an alternative treatment.
My Personal Experience With Cyclobenzaprine
After years of lifting heavy weights and hunching over a desk typing every day, I eventually developed some pretty irritating lower back pain.
Since I would never stop doing either of those things, I had to find a way of managing the problem while still doing my job.
I tried everything including:
- Lifting less often
- Using a standing desk
- Foam rolling
- Getting a new mattress
- Other drugs
Although some of those things helped a little (stretching and yoga especially), there came a point where my back pain was directly interfering with my productivity.
So I sought medical advice…
I went to my doctor, explained the issue along with the strategies I had already tried, and he prescribed me some generic Cyclobenzaprine (5mg pills).
Like any responsible physician, he advised me not to take it during the day.
“1 pill, directly before bed, as needed.”
Well, me being the stubborn mule that I am, I decided that since “I’m bigger than the average person and have more muscle, I need a higher dose”, so I took 2…
My Cyclobenzaprine Experiment Results
Not only did I sleep like a rock, but when I woke up, my back felt like I had just gotten a 7 hour massage.
- greater flexibility
- less tension
- no pain to speak of
The only downside was that I couldn’t function for the first half the day.
The grogginess was so much that it was tough to even get out of bed, let alone write a good article or workout.
The next night, I decided to listen to my doctor’s advice and only take 1 (5mg) pill.
Worked like a charm!
Back pain gone. No tension. A little groggy, but nothing that a cold shower and some caffeine couldn’t shake off.
After taking Cyclobenzaprine for a few days, my lower back pain was pretty much gone, so I decided to stop taking it daily and only use it as needed.
This was about a year ago and I still have some left, meaning this really is one of those drugs that you can use “as needed” and it still works.
For me, it simply unlocked all the tension in my lower back that was causing the pain.
I still use Cyclopenzaprine from time to time, usually when I’m forced to sit down for several hours and my back gets stiff (like a long drive or a flight), but it’s not something you’re supposed to take every day, nor do you need to.
The Bottom Line On Cyclobenzaprine
Cyclobenzaprine is an effective treatment option for muscle-related issues such as:
- muscle spasms
- skeletal-muscle pain
- tightness and immobility
But like any drug that actually works, it comes with some potential side effects and downsides which should be carefully weighed against the benefits before deciding whether or not it’s a good treatment option for you.
Unlike most CNS-related drugs, it’s not necessarily more effective at higher doses but the side effects are greater, so do yourself a favor and listen to your doctor’s dosage instructions on this one.