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What are Benzodiazepines ?

Benzodiazepines (BZD, BZs), sometimes called "benzos", are a class of psychoactive drugs whose core chemical structure is the fusion of a benzene ring and a diazepine ring. The first such drug, chlordiazepoxide (Librium), was discovered accidentally by Leo Sternbach in 1955, and made available in 1960 by Hoffmann–La Roche, which, since 1963, has also marketed the benzodiazepine diazepam (Valium). In 1977 benzodiazepines were globally the most prescribed medications.They are in the family of drugs commonly known as minor tranquilizers.

Uses of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are effective for treating a range of psychological and neurological disorders, due to its effects on the neurons that trigger stress and anxiety reactions.

These disorders include:

Insomnia: Benzodiazepines are normally only used as a short-term treatment for severe insomnia, as they can lead to dependence.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): Benzodiazepines are often used in the treatment of GAD. The United Kingdom (U.K.) National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends taking benzodiazepines to treat short-term GAD treatment for no longer than 1 month.

Seizures: Benzodiazepines are powerful anticonvulsants and highly effective at preventing prolonged epileptic seizures.

Alcohol withdrawal: The most common benzodiazepine prescribed for alcohol withdrawal is chlodiazepoxide, followed by diazepam. The drugs help people with alcohol dependence by removing toxins from their system and reducing the risk of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Panic attacks: Because of their fast-acting anti-anxiety effects, benzodiazepines are very effective at treating anxiety associated with panic disorder. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that many different study trials support their use for initial treatment.

Function

The human brain contains many different neurotransmitters. These are responsible for communicating messages between brain cells that can have either tranquilizing or excitatory effects.

When someone feels overly anxious, the brain becomes excited and over-active. Tranquilizing transmitters quickly send messages to brain cells, slowing down activity in the brain and reducing the symptoms of anxiety.

GABA is the tranquilizing neurotransmitter, and billions of brain cells respond to its signals.

Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA. The drugs contain chemicals that add to the calming effect already produced by the human body and keep the brain in a more tranquilized state.