What You Need To Know About Donnatal (Belladonna/Phenobarbital)

Donnatal Is A Mild Sedative And Is Potentially Habit-Forming

Donnatal can make you sleepy, so you shouldn't take it with other drugs that might cause drowsiness. Image © Pillbox

Other brand names: Antispas, Barbidonna, Donnapine, Hyosophen, Spasmolin

What Is Donnatal?

Donnatal is a type of drug called an anticholinergic and is actually a combination of two drugs: belladonna and phenobarbital. It is used to relax the muscles in the bladder and intestines as well as to reduce stomach acid. It's important to know that phenobarbital is a mild sedative.

Is Donnatal Habit-forming?

Yes, phenobarbital can be habit-forming. Donnatal may not be an appropriate treatment for people who have been dependant on other drugs. Before taking don natal, alk to your doctor if you have had difficulty with drug dependence in the past.

How Is Donnatal Taken?

Donnatal should be taken anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes before eating a meal. It should never be taken at the same time as antacids, as antacids can decrease the absorption of Donnatal.

Why Is Donnatal Prescribed?

Donnatal is used in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulosis, and bladder spasms.

What Do I Do If I Miss A Dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If your next dose should be taken soon, just take that dose. Don't double up, or take more than one dose at a time.

Who Should Not Take Donnatal?

Before taking Donnatal, tell your doctor if you have, or have ever had:

  • Asthma
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Glaucoma
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Prostate enlargement (BPH)
  • Severe mental disorder
  • Severe ulcerative colitis where bowel movements have stopped

What Are The Side Effects?

The most serious side effects from Donnatal are confusion, blurred vision, difficulty in urination, and decreased sweating. If you experience these symptoms call your doctor immediately. Take care to stay hydrated, particularly in hot weather.

Other common side effects include headache, nausea, constipation, rash, and vomiting. See the Donnatal Side Effects page for a more complete list.

What Medications Can Donnatal Interact With?

Donnatal can interact with several drugs. Tell the prescribing physician about all drugs and nutritional supplements you are taking, especially those from the following list which may interact with Donnatal.

  • Antacids
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Antispasmodics
  • Barbiturates
  • Birth Control Pills
  • Blood-thinning drugs (Coumadin)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Diarrhea medications containing Kaolin or attapulgite
  • Digitalis (Lanoxin)
  • Metoclopramide (Reglan)
  • Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors
  • Narcotics
  • Potassium chloride
  • Prednisone
  • Sedatives
  • Thiazide diuretics

Are There Any Food Interactions?

Consuming alcohol while taking Donnatal could have a sedative effect and cause tiredness or sleepiness. Take care to avoid alcohol from unexpected sources, such as over the counter cough suppressants or cold products (Nyquil, for example).

Is Donnatal Safe During Pregnancy?

The FDA has classified Donnatal as a type C drug. The belladonna portion of Donnatal has not been shown to cause any problems for pregnant women. However, the barbiturate portion does increase the risk of birth defects and bleeding in newborns. Donnatal does pass into breast milk.

Donnatal should only be used during pregnancy if clearly needed. Notify the prescribing doctor if you become pregnant while taking Donnatal. The potential for serious side effects in an infant should be weighed against the usefulness of the medication to the mother.

Can Donnatal Cause Any Sexual Side Effects?

Donnatal can cause impotence in men, and suppression of breast milk in nursing mothers. It may also decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills.

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