IBS Tales Home > Treatment Reviews > IBS Medications > Donnatal


Rated 3.6/5 based on 10 reviews

Donnatal Extentabs is an extended release anti-spasmodic drug. This means that it is designed to relax the muscles in the gut wall and reduce spasms and pain, and to do this over a longer period of time than other anti-spasmodic medications. Donnatal is designed to treat the general symptoms of IBS such as abdominal pain and diarrhea. Donnatal comes in tablet or liquid form.

Donnatal side effects

The most common side effects of Donnatal are constipation, incomplete evacuation, dizziness and a decrease in sweating.


Review by Barbara

I have been using Donnatal, or as I've always called it, 'the green medicine'. As a child I had stomach issues and at the age of nine I was given this medicine in liquid form. I am 58 now and I have had problems for the past five years. I tried the Donnatal pills but they gave me all the weird side effects that people have been describing.

I asked my doctor for the liquid form and it works so much better without the side effects. I can take three or four teaspoons a day and get the same pain relief I got as a child. So anyone who is on this, please try the liquid form, it works so much better!

Review by Alan

I'm 68 and I have had IBS for many, many years. I have read a lot of stories on your site but I haven't seen anyone who uses Paregoric for their stomach aches. It is the only thing I have found that makes my stomach stop hurting, but the doctors don't want to give prescriptions for it easily because they think when you ask for it that you are an addict looking for drugs. A few years ago I got diabetes and they gave me Metformin which made my stomach hurt so badly I thought I was going to die, it was a terrible pain.

My IBS seems to be a little different from the stories I have read on your site. I can be feeling fine, and then after breakfast most days when I go to the bathroom and I am sitting on the toilet I start drooling and then I throw up over and over until there is nothing left. Then my stomach feels like it is turning inside out because I keep throwing up without anything in it for a while. The first time I told a doctor he said that that couldn't happen and I was just making up a story.

I told many doctors about it until I ran into a specialist and he gave me a pill named Donnatal. It worked. It was almost a miracle. It stopped the vomiting most mornings. My son has Crohn's disease so maybe he inherited it from my IBS. My daughter has IBS in the same way as me, go to the toilet and then look for a place to throw up. I have to keep a bucket by the toilet because you need a toilet for both ends at the same time...Well, thanks for listening.

Review by Karen

I found out that I have IBS four years ago after two colonoscopies and a lot of time in pain. I was afraid to go places or eat out because of fears of an IBS attack. I was told to take fiber pills, Citrucel, which made me bloated. For the past two months I have been dealing with the attacks more than ever. After I had blood work done and a CT scan on my stomach, which involved drinking two bottles of a disgusting chalk drink, I was told that it was a bad flare-up of IBS and everything else looked OK.

The Donnatal is helping with cramping, but I always feel nauseous also. The cramping is so bad sometimes I almost black out. At times I get a warning before an attack: cramping or growling in the stomach even though I am not hungry, but at other times there is no warning and that is when embarrassing accidents occur. I have been told to eat whole grains, have a high-fiber diet and stay away from dairy. Something has to be done to help people suffering with this problem.

Review by Cindy

I've been suffering with IBS-D for about three months now. After trying fiber, having a colonoscopy and getting over a fissure, my doctor prescribed Donnatal, one tablet (48mg extended release) twice a day. After looking at the ingredients I knew I wouldn't be able to take it very well. I take one a day around 11:30am. By 2pm I'm falling asleep at my desk and by 4pm my mouth is so dry I can hardly swallow. Then about 6pm I'm jittery and cranky. I haven't had any painful diarrhea since I started taking it though. I'm not sure what to do.

Review by Laurie

I have IBS-D which sometimes gets bad enough that I lose weight and suffer from malnutrition. I take several medications for this, including an anti-cholinergic for any episodes of bad intestinal cramping (the diarrhea is a daily, frequent thing, with or without bad cramps). Lately my cramping has seemed to require more than what I normally had been taking. Additionally, there has recently been a hyoscyamine/Levsin shortage. Consequently, my GI doc's office put me on Donnatal, one pill four times a day.

The first day, I took a half a tablet in the morning. I fell asleep, which felt more like falling unconscious. When I woke up hours later, I felt groggy, dizzy, and trippy (spacing out a lot). This feeling lasted for over 12 hours. Next day, I started having pain again so I took a quarter of a tablet. Same kind of symptoms, but they were less severe and lasted a shorter time.

Next dose (about eight hours later) I took an eighth of a tablet. Still spacey but better. However, even on an eighth of a tablet there is no way at all I could drive or work on this drug. I had a hard time walking up and down stairs or making dinner. I suspect much of this is the barbiturate component of the medication since I've taken many (many) hyoscyamine/Levsin tablets in a given day and not experienced anything at all like this reaction.

Review by Doug

I have suffered from IBS for 20 years and the only thing that works is Donnatal. I still have horrible episodes where I can barely function, in fact, I am in the midst of one right now. My provider has shifted to the generic form of Donnatal and it does not seem as effective. I pray for anyone who suffers with this horrible disorder.

Review by Alice

During pregnancies I would have been sick the whole time if it had not been for Donnatal. Now, I'm 77 years old. Suddenly diarrhea became uncontrollable and reflux was eating up my esophagus. After my doctor prescribed Donnatal for me I was no longer miserable. I'm no longer sick to my stomach, I no longer have awful nightmares, seldom have a painful attack of diarrhea and I'm not afraid to go where and when I choose. My sleep and even my naps are so much more comfortable and pleasant.

Review by Lori

I have been taking Donnatal for about one week now. I have suffered immensely with IBS-D for as long as I can remember. I am 32, and since having my last two children (c-sections) and my gallbladder out two months ago, I having been suffering to the point of being paranoid to leave my house. I am afraid to go to work, or out with my small children in case of an attack.

I am just so utterly depressed about this illness. It is not only terribly painful (at times, I really think that my family will find me dead on the toilet), but it is so humiliating and isolating. Only people who experience it actually understand. The Donnatal seems to help take the edge off the pain, but it makes me very tired, and again I have small children to care of.

I have used Lomotil in the past, and Bentyl and Nulev, but all seem to be temporary fixes. I don't like the thought of taking these pills like candy every day. But I am getting to the point that if I want to have any decent social life, I will have to be dependent on these drugs. It seems like my diarrhea has gotten 10 times worse since my gallbladder was removed. I had no idea this was a common side effect of the surgery.

Anyway, I read the other reviews and just want to cry my eyes out because I feel everyone's pain, and just can't believe there is nothing anyone can really do to cure this problem. My prayers are with everyone out there, we are all just longing to live our lives without this painful, embarrassing, debilitating disorder. I feel like it has taken my spirit away from me.

Review by Stephanie

My doctor diagnosed me with IBS almost six months ago. I had had my gallbladder removed six months prior, and was still having no relief from the cramping and nausea. My doctor prescribed Donnatal and Valium (5mg) twice a day. After just a few days, I began to feel better. I now take them together only once a day, and still feel great. I cannot say enough good things about this drug...it has changed my life. Another good thing....the generic form is very affordable at less than $10.

Review by Diane

My life has gradually been overtaken by IBS. A gastroenterologist gave me Donnatal, two tablets three times a day, two months ago. In general, this drug has lowered the severity of the abdominal pain that I had been having. Formerly I had level eight pain for an hour or more per day; now the Donnatal has reduced that to about a level five pain and shortened the duration of the attacks most of the time.

Last month I was pain-free for nine days out of 30. With the Donnatal I get fewer attacks per day. However, taking Donnatal 30-60 minutes before each meal does not guarantee I will not get a pain attack. The attacks are unpredictable for the most part.

However, Donnatal has had some beneficial side effects for me: I fall asleep quickly and sleep like a baby most nights, whereas previously I slept fitfully. I also have less problems with acid reflux since taking Donnatal. One unusual benefit from this medication is that previously I was embarrassed by sweating excessively (I got soaked just from a little light garden work), but now that doesn't happen. And one wonderful side effect is that since I have been taking Donnatal, my compulsive eating and bulimia has stopped! I have no desire to overeat or purge. What a blessing in disguise!

Do you suffer from IBS? Have you tried Donnatal? Please contact Sophie to send in your review.