Parlodel (Bromocriptine) – Oral

What Is Parlodel?

Parlodel contains the active drug bromocriptine, which belongs to the dopamine receptor agonist drug class. The drug is approved to treat Parkinson's disease and hormonal disorders like acromegaly (too much growth hormone in the body).

Parlodel binds directly to special dopamine D2 receptors in the brain, stimulating nerves that control movement. This leads to decreased prolactin in the body, reducing the harmful effects of hyperprolactinemia (a disease with very high blood levels of prolactin, a hormone released by the pituitary gland). In acromegaly, bromocriptine blocks the release of a specific growth hormone (somatotropin), decreasing its blood concentrations.

Parlodel is a prescription medicine available as oral capsules and tablets.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Bromocriptine

Brand Name(s): Parlodel

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Prolactin inhibitor, antiparkinsonian agent, dopamine receptor agonist

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Administration Route: Oral

Active Ingredient: Bromocriptine

Dosage Form(s): Tablets, capsules

What Is Parlodel Used For?

Parlodel is used alone or with other drugs to treat Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's is a nervous system disorder that causes difficulty with movement, muscle control, and balance. Parlodel improves the ability to move and decreases shakiness (tremors), stiffness, slowed movement, and instability. It may also reduce the number of episodes of not being able to move ("on-off syndrome").

Parlodel therapy may provide additional therapeutic benefits in people who are currently maintained on an optimal dose of levodopa (a central nervous system agent that converts to dopamine in the brain), and in those who are beginning to develop tolerance to levodopa therapy and experiencing "end of dose failure" (when the effects wear off) on levodopa therapy.

Parlodel is also indicated for the treatment of conditions associated with hyperprolactinemia, including amenorrhea (lack of menstrual periods) with or without galactorrhea (discharge from the nipples), infertility or hypogonadism (low levels of hormones required for normal development and sexual function).

Hyperprolactinemia is caused by high levels of a natural substance called prolactin in the body caused by certain types of tumors. High prolactin levels may cause problems such as unwanted breast milk, missed periods, difficulty becoming pregnant, decreased sperm production, decreased sexual ability, and headaches.

It is also used to treat certain hormonal disorders called acromegaly, a condition caused by too much growth hormone in the body).

Parlodel (Bromocriptine) Drug Information: A person with their brain showing the pituitary gland

Verywell / Dennis Madamba

How to Take Parlodel

Read the directions carefully on your prescription label. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist to explain if you need help understanding any of the information.

Parlodel comes as an oral capsule and a tablet.

  • When used to treat hyperprolactinemia, it is usually taken once a day with food.
  • When used to treat acromegaly, it is usually taken once a day at bedtime with food.
  • When used to treat Parkinson's disease, it is usually taken twice a day with food.
  • Take your dose at the same time every day to avoid missing them.
  • Take Parlodel exactly as directed.
  • Do not take less or more often than prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Your healthcare provider will prescribe the best suitable dose for you, depending on your clinical condition. They will probably start you on a low dose of Parlodel and gradually increase the dose once every two to 28 days. Your dose depends on the condition being treated and how your condition responds to the medication. You may need some time to see the full benefits of the drug.

Parlodel may help to control a particular condition but may not cure it. Do not stop taking Parlodel without talking to your healthcare provider. Sudden discontinuation may result in a lack of interest or concern for usual activities, anxiety, depression, tiredness, sleep problems, sweating, or pain. 

Storage

Keep Parlodel in its original container, and store it at room temperature. Keep it away from heat and moisture, such as in the bathroom or near a sink. Do not store it in the car or on a windowsill.

Keep all medications out of sight and reach of children and pets. Always lock safety caps to avoid accidental poisoning, and/or locked in a cabinet or closet.

Try to avoid pouring unused and expired drugs down the drain or in the toilet. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider about the best ways to dispose of this medicine. Visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website to know where and how to discard all unused and expired drugs. Disposal boxes may be available in your area. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the best ways to dispose of your medications.

If you plan to travel with Parlodel, get familiar with your final destination's regulations. In general, be sure to make a copy of your Parlodel prescription. If possible, keep your medication in its original container from your pharmacy with your name on the label. If you have any questions about traveling with your medicine, be sure to ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider.

How Long Does Parlodel Take to Work?

The maximum effect for decreased prolactin levels happens eight hours after taking the medication. It may take longer to notice an effect.

Off-Label Uses

Parlodel has also been used off-label to treat: 

What Are the Side Effects of Parlodel?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Parlodel may cause some side effects, such as:

Call your healthcare provider if these symptoms worsen or do not go away.

Severe Side Effects

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you develop any signs of a severe reaction. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening.

Serious side effects and their symptoms include:

Report Side Effects

Parlodel may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Parlodel Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage forms (capsules and tablets):
    • For infertility, pituitary tumors, male hormone problem (male hypogonadism), starting the menstrual cycle (amenorrhea), or stopping abnormal milk secretion from the nipples (galactorrhea):
      • Adults and children 16 years of age or older—At first, 1.25 to 2.5 milligrams (mg) once a day. Your doctor may increase your dose by 2.5 mg every 2 to 7 days as needed and tolerated. However, the dose is usually not more than 15 mg per day.
      • Children 11 to 15 years of age—At first, 1.25 to 2.5 mg once a day. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed and tolerated. However, the dose is usually not more than 10 mg per day.
      • Children younger than 11 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For lowering growth hormone (acromegaly):
      • Adults—At first, 1.25 to 2.5 milligrams (mg) once a day taken at bedtime with a snack for 3 days. Your doctor may increase your dose by 1.25 or 2.5 mg every 3 to 7 days as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 100 mg per day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For Parkinson's disease:
      • Adults—At first, 1.25 milligrams (mg) two times a day. Your doctor may increase your dose over several weeks as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 100 mg per day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For type 2 diabetes:
      • Adults—At first, 0.8 milligram (mg) once a day, taken within two hours after waking up in the morning. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 4.8 mg per day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

The following modifications (changes) should be kept in mind when using Parlodel:

Severe allergic reaction: You should not use Parlodel if you are allergic to bromocriptine or any other ingredient in the tablets or capsules. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider for a complete list of the ingredients if you're unsure.

Pregnancy: The safety and effectiveness of Parlodel have not been established in pregnant people and their fetuses. Discuss with your healthcare provider if you are or plan to become pregnant, and weigh the benefits and risks of taking Parlodel during your pregnancy.

Breastfeeding: Parlodel should not be taken by breastfeeding people.

Adults over the age of 65 years: There is not enough clinical data available to show how Paradalol affects the adults over the age of 65 years of age or above.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of Parlodel have not been established in children for any of the indications listed above. The safety and effectiveness of Parlodel for the treatment of prolactin-secreting pituitary adenomas have been established in children 16 and above.

Other modifications: The effect of Parlodel on renal (kidney) function has not been studied. Renal impairment may not significantly affect the metabolism of the drug.

The effect of Parlodel on liver function has not been studied. Parlodel is mainly eliminated by metabolism through the liver; liver impairment may increase the plasma levels of the drug. Caution is advised.

Administration modifications: Always take this medicine with food even if you are taking it at bedtime.

Missed Dose

If you accidentally forgot your Parlodel dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it's already close to your next scheduled dose, however, skip the missed dose and take the following dose at your next scheduled dosing time. Don't try to double up to make up for the missed dose.

Try to find ways that work for you to help yourself remember to routinely keep your appointments and take your medication. If you miss too many doses, Parlodel might be less effective.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Parlodel?

If you think that you're experiencing an overdose or life-threatening symptoms, however, seek immediate medical attention. The symptoms of a suspected overdose of Parlodel include:

If you think that you're experiencing an overdose or life-threatening symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

What Happens If I Overdose on Parlodel?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Parlodel, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Parlodel, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

For females using Parlodel® who are not trying to get pregnant:

  • Use an effective form of birth control (other than oral contraceptives) to keep from getting pregnant. A pregnancy test is needed every 4 weeks during the amenorrheic period or every time you miss a monthly period. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you develop blurred vision, a sudden headache, or severe nausea and vomiting.

Do not use Cycloset® if you had recently given birth to a child (postpartum). This medicine may cause serious and life-threatening problems when given to postpartum women, including high blood pressure, heart attack, seizures, stroke, or mental illness.

This medicine may cause some people to become drowsy, dizzy, or less alert than they are normally. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous unless you know how this medicine affects you.

Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may occur, especially when you get up suddenly from a lying or sitting position. These symptoms are more likely to occur when you begin taking this medicine or when the dose is increased.

Parlodel® may increase your risk of having a condition called retroperitoneal fibrosis. This is more likely to occur if you are receiving this medicine on high doses and have been using it for a long time. Check with your doctor if you have continuing or severe stomach pain, increased frequency of urination, continuing loss of appetite, lower back pain, continuing or severe nausea and vomiting, or weakness while taking this medicine.

It is very important to follow carefully any instructions from your health care team about taking Cycloset® :

  • Counseling—Other family members need to learn how to prevent side effects or help with side effects if they occur. Also, patients with diabetes may need special counseling about diabetes medicine dosing changes that might occur because of lifestyle changes, such as changes in exercise and diet. Furthermore, counseling on contraception and pregnancy may be needed because of the problems that can occur in patients with diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Travel—Keep your recent prescription and your medical history with you. Be prepared for an emergency as you would normally. Make allowances for changing time zones and keep your meal times as close as possible to your usual meal times.
  • In case of emergency—There may be a time when you need emergency help for a problem caused by your diabetes. You need to be prepared for these emergencies. It is a good idea to wear a medical identification (ID) bracelet or neck chain at all times. Also, carry an ID card in your wallet or purse that says you have diabetes and a list of all of your medicines.

Too much Cycloset® can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) when it is used under certain conditions. Symptoms of low blood sugar must be treated before they lead to unconsciousness (passing out). People may feel different symptoms of low blood sugar. It is important that you learn which symptoms of low blood sugar you usually have so you can treat it quickly. Talk to your doctor about the best way to treat low blood sugar.

Symptoms of low blood sugar include anxiety, behavior change similar to being drunk, blurred vision, cold sweats, confusion, cool, pale skin, difficulty in thinking, drowsiness, excessive hunger, fast heartbeat, headache (continuing), nausea, nervousness, nightmares, restless sleep, shakiness, slurred speech, or unusual tiredness or weakness.

If symptoms of low blood sugar occur, eat glucose tablets or gel, corn syrup, honey, or sugar cubes, or drink fruit juice, non-diet soft drink, or sugar dissolved in water. Also, check your blood for low blood sugar. Glucagon is used in emergency situations when severe symptoms such as seizures or unconsciousness occur. Have a glucagon kit available, along with a syringe or needle, and know how to use it. Members of your household also should know how to use it.

High blood sugar may occur if you do not exercise as much as usual, have a fever or infection, do not take enough or skip a dose of your diabetes medicine, or overeat or do not follow your meal plan.

If symptoms of high blood sugar occur, check your sugar level and then call your doctor for instructions.

Bromocriptine may cause dryness of the mouth. For temporary relief, use sugarless candy or gum, melt bits of ice in your mouth, or use a saliva substitute. However, if dry mouth continues for more than 2 weeks, check with your medical doctor or dentist. Continuing dryness of the mouth may increase the chance of dental disease, including tooth decay, gum disease, and fungus infections.

It may take several weeks for bromocriptine to work. Do not stop taking this medicine or reduce the amount you are taking without first checking with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping completely. This will decrease your chance of having withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, depression, difficulty in breathing, fast heartbeat, high fever, high or low blood pressure, lack of feeling or emotion, loss of bladder control, seizures, severe muscle stiffness, sweating, trouble sleeping, unusually pale skin, or unusual tiredness or weakness.

Drinking alcohol while you are taking bromocriptine may cause you to have a certain reaction. Avoid alcoholic beverages until you have discussed this with your doctor. Some of the symptoms you may have if you drink any alcohol while you are taking this medicine are blurred vision, chest pain, confusion, fast or pounding heartbeat, flushing or redness of the face, nausea, severe weakness, sweating, throbbing headache, or vomiting.

Some people who have used this medicine had unusual changes in their behavior. Talk with your doctor right away if you start having unusual urges, such as gambling, compulsive shopping, or increased sex drive while using this medicine.

It is important that your doctor check you for melanoma (skin cancer) regularly if you have Parkinson's disease.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Parlodel?

Parlodel is contraindicated (not recommended) in people with:

  • Hypersensitivity to any of its ingredients
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) 
  • Sensitivity to any ergot alkaloids such as Dostinex (cabergoline), D.H.E. 45 (dihydroergotamine), ergoloid mesylates, Ergotrate(ergonovine), Ergomar (ergotamine), Methergine (methylergonovine), and others
  • Mental health illness

Other considerations include:

  • Pregnancy: If Parlodel is necessary for pregnant people, the benefit of continuing the treatment must outweigh the risk.
  • The postpartum period, specifically in women with a history of coronary artery disease and other severe cardiovascular conditions. If the use of the drug is required during the postpartum period, the individual should be monitored closely.

What Other Medications Interact With Parlodel?

Parlodel has not been studied carefully in combination with other drugs. Parlodel may interact with certain drugs and may require caution when used with the following medications:

Antipsychotics:

  • Haldol (haloperidol)
  • Mellaril or Melleril (thioridazine)
  • Thorazine and Largactil (chlorpromazine)

Dopamine antagonists:

  • Dostinex (cabergoline)
  • Larodopa (levodopa)
  • Permax (pergolide)
  • Requip (ropinirole)
  • Butyrophenones

Azole antimycotics:

  • Sporanox (itraconazole)
  • Nizoral (ketoconazole)

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) protease inhibitors:

  • Crixivan (indinavir)
  • Viracept (nelfinavir)
  • Norvir (ritonavir)

Macrolide antibiotics:

  • Biaxin (clarithromycin) 
  • Erythrocin (erythromycin)

Ergot alkaloids:

  • Dostinex (cabergoline)
  • D.H.E. 45, (dihydroergotamine)
  • Hydergine (ergoloid mesylates)
  • Ergotrate (ergonovine)
  • Bellergal-S (ergotamine)
  • Methergine (methylergonovine)
  • Sansert (methysergide)
  • Permax (pergolide)

Dose adjustment may be required when high doses of Parlodel are used in Parkinson’s disease.

Parlodel may interact with alcohol and cause severe side effects. Don’t get up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy.

Talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider for more detailed information about medication interactions with Parlodel. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about any other medicines you take or plan to take, including over-the-counter (OTC) and nonprescription products, vitamins, herbs, or plant-based medicines.

What Medications Are Similar?

Dopaminergic antiparkinsonian agents (medications) aim to replace dopamine or prevent the degradation of dopamine (keep dopamine circulating in the brain). Antiparkinsonian drugs replace dopamine in the central nervous system, either releasing dopamine or mimicking the action of dopamine.

Antiparkinsonian agents treat Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder of movement that occurs due to dopamine deficiency in the brain, particularly in the basal ganglia (an area deep in the brain).

Some of the other drugs belonging to the antiparkinsonian class are:

  • Requip (ropinirole)
  • Mirapex (pramipexole)
  • Neupro (rotigotine)
  • Emsam (selegiline)
  • Sinemet (carbidopa/levodopa)
  • Rytary (carbidopa/levodopa)
  • Azilect (rasagiline)
  • Stalevo (carbidopa/entacapone/levodopa)
  • Comtan (entacapone)
  • Xadago (safinamide)
  • Symmetrel (amantadine)
  • Sinemet CR (carbidopa/levodopa)
  • Apokyn (apomorphine)
  • Zelapar (selegiline)

Prolactin inhibitors are agents that are dopamine agonists that effectively treat hyperprolactinemia (too high levels of prolactin in the blood). These drugs include:

  • Dostinex (cabergoline)
  • Parlodel (bromocriptine)
  • Cycloset (bromocriptine)

Your healthcare provider will prescribe the best suitable brand for you. Don't switch brands on your own without asking your healthcare provider. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Parlodel used for?

    Parlodel is used to treat conditions caused by a hormone imbalance in which too much prolactin is in the blood (hyperprolactinemia). Parlodel is also used to treat disorders caused by a noncancerous tumor of the pituitary gland that can overproduce prolactin.

    Parlodel is used together with surgery or radiation to treat acromegaly, caused by the release of too much growth hormone. It also treats the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, such as tremors, muscle spasms, and poor muscle control.

  • What are the side effects of Parlodel?

    Some common side effects of Parlodel are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, tiredness, constipation, or headache may occur. If any of the side effects do not go away or get worse, call your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

  • How should I take Parlodel?

    You should always take Parlodel with food even if you are taking it at night. Do not take this drug on an empty stomach.

  • How can Parlodel affect me?

    Parlodel may cause an intense urge to spend uncontrollably or gamble, an increased sexual drive, depression, mania, and other unusual behavior. If you experience these issues, talk to your healthcare provider immediately.

  • Can I drive or operate machinery while taking Parlodel?

    No. Parlodel has been associated with somnolence (sleepiness) and sudden onset of sleep, particularly in people with Parkinson's disease. You should not drive a vehicle or operate machinery unless you know how this drug affects you.

  • How can I stop taking Parlodel?

    Do not stop taking Parlodel without discussing this with your healthcare provider first. Suddenly stopping the drug may lead to failure in achieving the therapeutic goals and may cause withdrawal symptoms.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Parlodel?

Taking Parlodel may cause physical and psychotic side effects. People taking Parlodel need to be closely monitored and cared for. Psychotic episodes may include a sudden onset of sleep during daily activities and loss of awareness or concentration. All individuals receiving Parlodel must be advised not to drive or engage in activities in which reduced alertness or lack of attention may put themselves or others at risk.

It helps to take the drug doses regularly to get the maximum therapeutic effects. The discontinuation of the drug may be associated with recurrence of initial symptoms, withdrawal effects, or rapid regrowth of tumors if taking it for that condition.

Some people may experience intense urges to spend their fortune uncontrollably or to gamble, hypersexuality (increased desire to have sex), mania, depression, or other intense cravings. Individuals or caregivers must closely observe and contact their healthcare provider with any questions or concerns. 

Consider discussing with your provider how to access additional mental health and emotional support systems for yourself and your loved ones when navigating Parkinson's, acromegaly (too much growth hormone in the body), or hyperprolactinemia (high levels of prolactin in the body).

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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