Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013


In South Africa bromocriptine is often prescribed to suppress breast milk production after stillbirth, abortion, or when the mother whish to stop breastfeeding.


Bromocriptine is the active ingredient of Parlodel.

General Information

In South Africa bromocriptine is often prescribed to suppress breast milk production after stillbirth, abortion, or when the mother whish to stop breastfeeding (or if breastfeeding is contraindicated). This medication is also indicated in treating the absence of a menstrual period in women of reproductive age, the over-secretion of breast milk, unassociated with childbirth, some types of female (and occasionally male) infertility and a lack of function of the ovaries or testis.

Bromocriptine is also effective in treating advanced Parkinsonism when other drugs have failed. It should however not be used in Parkinsonism associated with dementia, as mental disturbances may be exacerbated.

This medication has an inhibiting effect on the secretion of growth hormone, and has been successfully used in the treatment of acromegaly - a condition associated with extreme enlargement of the extremities, which can result in severe disfigurement.

How does bromocriptine work?

Bromocriptine prevents the secretion of the hormone prolactin in the brain, making it effective in treating conditions associated with excessive prolactin secretion.

The medication makes dopamine receptors more susceptible to this neurotransmitter, and is therefore effective in treating Parkinson's disease.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 4

Available as: Bromocriptine is available as tablets, capsules

What does it do? Bromocriptine is effective in suppressing breast milk secretion and treatment of Parkinson's disease, various menstrual disorders, infertility and impotence.

Overdose risk: Low

Dependence risk: Low

Is bromocriptine available as a generic? Yes

Is bromocriptine available on prescription only? Yes

User information

Onset of effect: Depends on condition being treated

Duration of action: Up to 8 hours

Dietary advice: Bromocriptine should be taken with food to prevent nausea and gastrointestinal effects.

Stopping this medicine: This medication should not be discontinued until you have discussed it with your doctor. If stopped prematurely symptoms may recur.

Prolonged use: No problems expected. You doctor may request periodic blood tests and examinations.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • You have a history of psychiatric disorders
  • You have liver disease
  • You have uncontrolled high blood pressure and/or heart disease
  • You have a blood circulation disorder
  • You are allergic to ANY medication, or if you are taking other medications
  • You have or had a stomach ulcer.

Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant

Breastfeeding: This medication suppresses breast milk production. If you wish to breastfeed, consult your doctor

Porphyria: Avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: Safety and efficacy of this medication has not been established for children under the age of 15.

Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly as side effects may occur more frequently. Low doses that are gradually increased is advised.

Driving and hazardous work: This medication should be avoided as it may cause extreme sedation.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication as it may cause confusion and dizziness.

Possible side effects

Side effect


Consult your doctor



Only if severe

In all cases

Nausea/ vomiting



Sudden low blood pressure












Skin rash/ itch











May trigger bromocriptine side-effects


Increased risk of bromocriptine toxicity

Metoclopramide/ dopamine

Reduce effect on prolactin secretion

Antipsychotic drugs

Increased risk of parkinsonism

Cold and flu preparations

Increased risk of side-effects

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Suppression of breast milk: 2.5 mg 2 times per day for 14 days

Menstrual disorders/excessive milk production: 1.25 mg once daily, gradually increased to 2.5 mg 2-3 times daily.

Interesting fact

Bromocriptine has potential for use in treating cocaine addiction. Studies show it has the potential to significantly ease cocaine withdrawal syndrome.


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