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Butalbital is classified within the drug family known as barbiturates. Butalbital works within the central nervous system to alleviate the pain and discomfort of muscle contraction headaches, commonly referred to as tension headaches. Butalbital is also employed as a sedative with the objective of inducing relaxation and a feeling of calmness by reducing anxiety. As a custom drug, butalbital contains a combination of acetaminophen, caffeine, and butalbital itself which together often provide the necessary relief.

How to Use Butalbital

Butalbital is taken orally every 4 hours or as needed, as directed by your physician. Butalbital can be taken with or without food. If you are prescribed the liquid version of the drug, measure carefully with the measuring spoon provided with the medication. Never measure with a common teaspoon, as your dosing amount will be inaccurate. Consult with your compounding pharmacist if you have further questions while you are in the midst of your course of taking butalbital. As with all drugs, always follow your physician's specific directions in regard to schedule of dosing, dosage amount, and duration of the course.

Possible Side Effects

Some patients may experience side effects. If side effects are experienced, the commonly seen are:

  • Vomiting and/or Nausea
  • Pain in Abdominal Area
  • Tremor
  • Increased Urination
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling Lightheaded
  • Trouble Sleeping or Drowsy Feeling
  • Dry Mouth

Many other side effects are possible, so if any of these above, or any other different side effects are experienced, monitor them closely and seek medical assistance if any side effects are increasing in intensity and/or lingering.

Severe Side Effects:

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience mood changes, mental changes, fast or irregular heartbeat, fainting, or seizures. Severe allergic reactions can occur with any medication. While not that common, allergic reactions to butalbital are possible. Watch for any signs of potentially severe allergic reactions and seek medical help right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Itching and/or Swelling (pay close attention to the face, throat and tongue)
  • Severe Dizziness
  • Rash
  • Trouble Breathing


Butalbital is contraindicated for patients who have been diagnosed with the following:

  • Porphyria

If you are pregnant or about to become pregnant, breast-feeding or preparing to, do not take butalbital unless you have consulted with your physician and he or she has your full medical history and deems the use of butalbital to be absolutely necessary.

  • "It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."

    Clair C. | West Hollywood, CA