Morphine: Side Effects
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Morphine Side Effects
What are morphine side effects?
Common morphine side effects include impaired mental and physical performance, lowered fear and anxiety, euphoria, decrease in hunger, inhibiting the cough reflex, constipation, reduction in sex drive, and in women it may interfere with the menstrual cycle. Morphine is a narcotic analgesic. This drug was first isolated from opium in 1805 by German pharmacist, Wilhelm Sertürner. He named this medication “Morphium”, after Morpheus the Greek god of dreams. Today, morphine is isolated from opium in substantially larger quantities -over 1000 tons per year. However, most commercial opium is converted into codeine. On the illicit market, opium gum is filtered into a morphine base and then synthesized into heroin.
Morphine is a powerful painkilling drug with many morphine side effects and a well-known downside. It has "this nasty side effect of causing addiction if used inappropriately," says neuroscientist Anthony Basile, who recently moved from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., to the biotech company Alkermes in Cambridge, Mass.
A batch of genetically engineered mice that Basile and his colleagues created could open new ways to blocking morphine side effects such as drug addiction. These mice lack a certain so-called muscarinic receptor, a protein on nerve cells that responds to the signal chemical acetylcholine. People and mice have five variants of this receptor. Basile's team focused on the least prevalent one.
Although seemingly normal, the mice without this receptor variant didn't become addicted to morphine after the one or two doses that it takes for typical mice to get hooked. Equally important, the drug's painkilling morphine side effects were undiminished, says Basile.
If given morphine long enough, the mutant mice did become addicted. But when deprived of the drug, the animals' morphine side effects of withdrawal--shaking, jumping, teeth chattering--were much less severe than those of other addicted mice going cold turkey.
Basile suggests that if scientists can develop compounds that block this particular receptor variant, providing those blockers along with morphine could prevent addiction to the painkiller. Moreover, such compounds could make it easier for an addict to quit the drug, he says.
Blockers of the muscarinic receptor may help people with other addictions. The mutant mice lacking the receptor resist dependence on cocaine, too.
Unfortunately, Basile says, no one is currently investigating drugs that target the muscarinic receptor. Adds Barry Everitt of the University of Cambridge in England: "Companies have shown very little interest in developing drugs for addiction."
Morphine Side Effects:
  • abdominal pain
  • abnormal thinking
  • accidental injury
  • agitation
  • allergic reaction
  • anxiety
  • appetite loss
  • apprehension
  • blurred vision / double vision
  • chills
  • constipation "pinpoint" pupils
  • cramps
  • depressed or irritable mood
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • dreams
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • exaggerated sense of well-being
  • facial flushing
  • fainting / faintness
  • floating feeling
  • hallucinations
  • headache
  • high/low blood pressure
  • hives
  • inability to urinate
  • insomnia
  • involuntary movement of the eyeball
  • itching
  • light headedness
  • memory loss
  • nausea
  • rash
  • rigid muscles
  • sedation
  • seizure
  • sweating
  • swelling due to fluid retention
  • tingling or pins and needles
  • tremor
  • uncoordinated muscle movements
  • vomiting
  • weakness

Morphine: Side Effects
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