Difference Between Meclizine And Dramamine

Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) and meclizine are different antihistamines.

Question

What is the difference between meclizine and Dramamine?

Asked by John On Dec 14, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Dec 14, 2018

Dramamine contains the active ingredient dimenhydrinate, an antihistamine. Meclizine is also an antihistamine but is generally less sedating. In fact, meclizine is the active ingredient in another Dramamine product, Dramamine Less Drowsy Formula.

So, to discuss the difference between meclizine and Dramamine, I will focus on the difference between meclizine and dimenhydrinate.

Answer Summary

Dramamine contains dimenhydrinate, a sedating antihistamine. Meclizine is also an antihistamine, but is less sedating. Meclizine is the active ingredient in Dramamine Less Drowsy Formula.

Dimenhydrinate

Dimenhydrinate is actually two molecular compounds attached to each other.

  • Diphenhydramine
  • 8-chlorotheophylline

Dimenhydrinate Molecular Structure

You may recognize diphenhydramine as it is the active ingredient in Benadryl. Dimenhydrinate is over 50% diphenhydramine by weight and therefore, the bulk of its effects comes from that.

Diphenhydramine is classified as a sedating antihistamine. Specifically, it is an ethanolamine antihistamine.

Ethanolamine antihistamines are known for their strong anticholinergic effects, which can cause the following side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Constipation

While many anticholinergic effects are undesirable, they help to relieve motion sickness by inhibiting stimulation of the inner ear.

8-chlorotheophylline is a derivative of theophylline, which itself is structurally similar to caffeine. This makes dimenhydrinate slightly less sedating than Benadryl, but still can cause significant drowsiness in many individuals. This is why Dramamine Less Drowsy Formula exists.

In total, dimenhydrinate contains of about 55% diphenhydramine and 45% 8-chlorotheophylline.

Summary

Dimenhydrinate is an ethanolamine antihistamine and the active ingredient in Dramamine. It consists of two chemical compounds: diphenhydramine and 8-chlorotheophylline.

Meclizine

Meclizine is also an antihistamine, but in a different class and generally has less sedating effects.

Unlike dimenhydrinate, which is an ethanolamine, meclizine is a piperazine-derivative.

As an antihistamine, meclizine works in the same manner as dimenhydrinate for the treatment of motion sickness. It does however have weaker anticholinergic effects than dimenhydrinate, which is why it tends to be better tolerated.

Summary

Meclizine is a piperazine-derivative antihistamine, which are generally less sedating than ethanolamine antihistamines like dimenhydrinate.

Dramamine Vs. Meclizine

As written above, Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) and meclizine are different antihistamines:

  • Dramamine contains dimenhydrinate, an ethanolamine antihistamine.
  • Meclizine, a piperazine-derivative antihistamine.

In general, antihistamines with stronger anticholinergic effects are more effective in treating motion sickness. This would mean that Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) may work better in this regard when compared to meclizine.

Comparative studies often report results showing Dramamine is slightly more effective than meclizine. However, it can cause more sedation than meclizine.

Choice of drug therefore is a balance between effectiveness and side effects. If you are worried about being drowsy, meclizine (Dramamine Less Drowsy) may be an option to try.

Summary

Studies show that Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) may be slightly more effective in treating motion sickness than meclizine but is associated with stronger sedative effects.

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of PharmacistAnswers.com. He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor Of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in several publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any questions or want to connect! [email protected]; Office: 716-389-3076

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