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Propranolol (Inderal): What You Should Know About the First Beta Blocker

Propranolol is a drug that works to ease the workload of the heart and blood vessels and has many applications as a treatment for circulatory health. Because of a potent biological action in the body, propranolol is used for countering the effects of stress, relieving migraines, and improving heart health.

What is Propranolol?

Propranolol which has also been sold under the name Inderal is a beta blocker drug. Actually, propranolol was the first of this category of medications to be discovered. 1

Beta-blockers function to interrupt adrenaline from reaching its adrenaline receptors. This plays an important role in ameliorating its specific effects. As the major player in the “fight or flight” response, adrenaline widens the air passages to allow more oxygen and narrows the blood vessels ensuring blood will be directed to where it is needed the most. 2

While the stress response can be only momentary, the effects of adrenaline can remain in the system for as long as an hour. Beta blockers prevent the activities of adrenaline on its receptors. This controls the heart rate and allows blood vessels to relax (dilate) and blood pressure to drop. As a non-selective beta blocker, propranolol has the same effects on the heart, lungs and other organs and blood vessels throughout the body. 3

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Benefits of Propranolol

Anxieties and Panic Disorders

The body relies on a special emergency system to keep itself safe from the potential dangers in the world. When the body experiences a perceived threat in its environment, it initiates the stress response. This prepares the body for action with superhuman strength and an energetic capacity.

But in the physically and mentally demanding culture of today, the stress that was supposed to help our lives has become a large part of life. Stress alters the chemistry in the body to allow for great strength, endless energy, and heightened awareness. However, it also places the blood vessels, heart, and neurochemistry of the body under considerable strain.

Ideally, the body will be fully relaxed and replenished before it is stressed out again, but in a hectic and demanding lifestyle, this is rarely the case. This has resulted in a variety of physical and mental disorders and a high demand for suitable solutions for soothing stress and reversing its effects.

Leading the beta-blocking solution is propranolol that works to counter the effects of adrenaline in the body. This has been found highly effective in countering the physiological aspects of phobias, anxieties and panic disorders. 4

Migraine Relief

An estimated 5 million Americans experience a migraine once a month. 91% of them will have to fully stop their daily operations due to the impaired functionality they cause. An ongoing migraine condition can be the cause of other physical and mental health issues including insomnia, depression irritability, and more. 5

Medical treatment for migraine headaches can come in abortive or preventive forms. Abortive solutions seek to treat the acute pain caused by the onset of migraine while preventive treatments seek to treat the conditions over time.

Studies have shown that beta-blockers, namely propranolol, may have potential in treating migraines in a prophylactic capacity, though more studies are needed to produce an effective treatment for general migraine conditions. 6

Improved Heart Conditions

The primary function of propranolol is to treat heart conditions and blood vessels and the variety of conditions that can threaten their vital function. Beta-blockers, including propranolol, work to relax the blood vessels decrease blood pressure and preserve the quality flow of blood through bodily systems. 7

The importance of quality blood flow is not to be underestimated as the nutrients and oxygen carried in the blood are vital to cellular survival. Through improved circulatory functions, propranolol improves many aspects of physical health. 8

woman taking pill with water

Risks and Precautions for Propranolol Use

Propranolol is a very potent medication that can impact the conditions of the heart and bodily functions. It interacts poorly with prescription drugs. Caution and medical advice are strongly advised.

Here are some important considerations for using propranolol:


Propranolol has been found possibly unsafe for use by pregnant mothers. This means that studies on animals have suggested birth defects and other complications could arise. Not enough is known about how this treatment could affect humans.

Speak with your doctor about the risks and advantages of propranolol if you are pregnant or hoping to become so soon. If you become pregnant while on this medication, notify your doctor immediately.


Propranolol can be passed from mother to infant through breastmilk and can result in complications. Propranolol can reduce the oxygen available and result in a bluish color in the skin , nails, fingers, and toes. This is a condition called cyanosis.


This drug has been known to cause heightened relaxation and drowsiness. Do not use if you will be operating heavy machinery or engaging in other activities that require alertness.


Propranolol can affect blood sugar levels and affects the symptoms of low blood sugar. Those with diabetes or taking medication for this condition should inform their doctor before beginning propranolol medication.


Studies have concluded that propranolol may be unsafe for those suffering from this condition as it is known to aggravate asthmatic symptoms. 9

Final Notes on Propranolol Use

Propranolol is a powerful drug and should only be used under the recommendations of a qualified physician. Be sure to notify your doctor of any other medications or drugs you may be using at the time. Finally, support your plans for better health with improved lifestyle habits like more exercise and nutritious foods.

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