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Wytensin Side Effects

Generic Name: guanabenz

Note: This document contains side effect information about guanabenz. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Wytensin.

For the Consumer

Applies to guanabenz: oral tablet

Along with its needed effects, guanabenz (the active ingredient contained in Wytensin) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur while taking guanabenz:

Signs and symptoms of overdose

Some side effects of guanabenz may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More Common

  • Dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • dryness of mouth
  • weakness

Less Common or Rare

After you stop using this medicine, it may still produce some side effects that need attention. During this period of time, check with your doctor immediately if you notice the following side effects:

  • Anxiety or tenseness
  • chest pain
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • headache
  • increased salivation
  • increase in sweating
  • nausea or vomiting
  • nervousness or restlessness
  • shaking or trembling of hands or fingers
  • stomach cramps
  • trouble in sleeping

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to guanabenz: compounding powder, oral tablet


In comparative studies the overall incidence of side effects associated with guanabenz (the active ingredient contained in Wytensin) was as high or higher than that seen with methyldopa or clonidine, but particularly troublesome effects, such as sodium retention, mental depression or sexual dysfunction, which have been associated with these drugs, have not been associated with guanabenz.[Ref]

Nervous system

The most common side effects involve the nervous system. Drowsiness is a complaint in up to 35% of patients, and, with dry mouth, is the main reason some patients discontinue therapy. Weakness or dizziness each occur in 6% and headache in 2% in patients.[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects include dry mouth in up to 37%, constipation in 2%, and nausea in 1% of patients.[Ref]


Postural hypotension may not have been observed, at least during initial therapy with guanabenz (the active ingredient contained in Wytensin) due to peripheral vascular resistance and cardiac output remaining unchanged.[Ref]

Although usually asymptomatic, guanabenz can decrease heart rate. Other cardiovascular side effects are rare. Unlike some other alpha-2-adrenoreceptor agonists, guanabenz is only rarely associated with orthostatic hypotension. Rebound hypertension can be a significant problem that may be accompanied by nervousness, palpitations, diaphoresis, anxiety, insomnia, malaise, and abdominal cramps. It has been observed anywhere from 16 to 72 hours after discontinuation of therapy.[Ref]


Nasal congestion has been reported in less than 3% of patients.[Ref]


Dermatologic rashes have been reported in less than 3% of patients.[Ref]


Ocular side effects are limited to rare cases of blurry vision.[Ref]


There are no serious endocrinologic side effects associated with guanabenz (the active ingredient contained in Wytensin) The drug does not appear to adversely affect the lipid profile. Some data indicate significant decreases in total and LDL cholesterol levels during guanabenz therapy.[Ref]


There are no known clinically significant renal side effects from guanabenz (the active ingredient contained in Wytensin) Acutely (within the first day of therapy), guanabenz may cause a mild water diuresis. Unlike some alpha-2-adrenoreceptor agonists, guanabenz is not associated with sodium and water retention.[Ref]

Some data have shown significant increases in glomerular filtration rate, natriuresis, and free water clearance associated with the use of guanabenz during the first few hours of therapy. Use of guanabenz for one week or more, however, has not been associated with significant changes in renal function parameters.[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Wytensin (guanabenz)." Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, Philadelphia, PA.

2. Hall AH, Smolinske SC, Kulig KW, Rumack BH "Guanabenz overdose." Ann Intern Med 102 (1985): 787-8

3. Rogers SJ "Guanabenz overdose." Ann Intern Med 104 (1986): 445

4. Walker BR, Deitch MW, Schneider BE, et al "Long-term therapy of hypertension with guanabenz." Clin Ther 4 (1981): 217-28

5. Nash DT "Clinical trial with guanabenz, a new antihypertensive agent." J Clin Pharmacol Oct (1973): 416-21

6. Leary WP, Asmal AC, Williams PC "Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of guanabenz versus clonidine." S Afr Med J 55 (1979): 83-5

7. Holmes B, Brogden RN, Heel RC, et al "Guanabenz: a review of its pharmacodynamic properties and therapeutic efficacy in hypertension." Drugs 26 (1983): 212-29

8. Dziedzic SW, Elijovich F, Felton K, et al "Effect of guanabenz on blood pressure responses to posture and exercise." Clin Pharmacol Ther 33 (1983): 151-5

9. Grenfell RF "Double-blind study of guanabenz acetate in hypertensive patients." South Med J 76 (1983): 199-201

10. McMahon FG, Ryan JR, Jain AK, et al "Guanabenz in essential hypertension." Clin Pharmacol Ther 21 (1977): 272-7

11. Baez MA, Woo-Ming RB, Garg DC, et al "Dose-ranging study to delineate the additive antihypertensive effect of guanabenz and captopril." J Clin Pharmacol 31 (1991): 312-7

12. Dubrow A, Mittman N, DeCola P, et al "Safety and efficacy of guanabenz in hypertensive patients with moderate renal insufficiency." J Clin Hypertens 1 (1985): 322-5

13. Braden G, Alvis R, Walker BR, Cox M "Effects of guanabenz on sodium and water homeostasis." J Clin Hypertens 3 (1987): 397-404

14. Kaplan NM, Grundy S "Comparison of the effects of guanabenz and hydrochlorothiazide on plasma lipids." Clin Pharmacol Ther 44 (1988): 297-302

15. Venkata C, Ram S, Holland B, et al "Withdrawal syndrome following cessation of guanabenz therapy." J Clin Pharmacol Feb-Mar (1979): 148-50

16. Olivari MT, Levine TB, Cohn JN "Acute hemodynamic and hormonal effects of central versus peripheral sympathetic inhibition in patients with congestive heart failure." J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 8 (1986): 973-7

17. Eldridge JC, Strandhoy J, Buckalew VM "Endocrinologic effects of antihypertensive therapy with guanabenz or hydrochlorothiazide." J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 6 (1984): s776-80

18. Kaplan NM "Effects of guanabenz on plasma lipid levels in hypertensive patients." J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 6 (1984): s841-6

19. Bosanac P, Dubb J, Walker B, et al "Renal effects of guanabenz: a new antihypertensive." J Clin Pharmacol Nov-Dec (1976): 631-6

20. Bauer JH "Effects of guanabenz therapy on renal function and body fluid composition." Arch Intern Med 143 (1983): 1163-7

21. Goldberg M, Gehr M, MacCarthy EP "Natriuretic and water diuretic effects of guanabenz: a central alpha-2 agonist." Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc 95 (1983): 79-85

22. Gehr M, MacCarthy EP, Goldberg M "Guanabenz: a centrally acting, natriuretic antihypertensive drug." Kidney Int 29 (1986): 1203-8

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.