Amantadine is used to alleviate the symptoms of fatigue in multiple sclerosis. It is an antiviral medication which improves muscle control and reduces muscle stiffness. It is sold under the brand names Symadine and Symmetrel.
How and why Amantadine works to combat fatigue is unknown. As with many drugs, the effectiveness of Amantadine in dealing with MS fatigue was a chance discovery that came about when a number of people with MS were being treated for 'flu using its anti-viral properties. The anti-viral properties may confer other benefits because viral infections have been shown to be significantly correlated with relapses.
Amantadine is also used for patients with Parkinson's disease due to its efficacy in treating muscle stiffness and loss of muscle control - both of which are potential symptoms of MS.
Compartive studies between Amantadine and Pemoline (Cylert) have shown Amantadine to be more effective in treating MS fatigue. Other studies between L-Carnitine, essentially a herbal product, and Amantadine in treating fatigue in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) have shown L-Carnitine to be the more effective (Neuropsychobiology, 35:16-23).
Amantadine is generally well tolerated by people with MS but it can cause insomnia, nausea and dizziness. The insomnia can be best dealt with by taking the drug in the morning and midday. Other common side-effects include loss of concentration, dizziness, headaches, irritability; loss of appetite, nervousness, blotchy rashes especially in the sunlight, constipation, dryness of the mouth and vomiting.
More rarely Amantadine can cause blurred vision, confusion, urinary hesitation, fainting, hallucinations, convulsions, coordination problems, optical irritation and swelling, depression, swollen feet and shortness of breath.
Chemical Name: Amantadine
Excite/WebMD - Article on Amantadine
Health Watch News...L-Carnitine Treats CFS
Yahoo! Health - Medication or Drug - oral Amantadine