Studies Show Klonopin and Xanax May Impair Immune System

The benzodiazepines are a class of drugs typically prescribed for the treatment of anxiety or chronic seizure. They work by slowing the electrical activity in the brain, resulting in a sedative effect. Doctors may prescribe these drugs for brief or prolonged periods, or simply as needed—such as in the event of a panic attack. The potential adverse effects of benzodiazepines are fairly well understood by the medical community. People may experience drowsiness, headache, dizziness, and an unsteady feeling. High doses have an intoxicating effect similar to alcohol consumption.

However, the effect of chronic low doses of medications like Xanax (alprazolam) and Klonopin (clonazepam) on human tissue and organs is still to be determined. Previous studies have suggested that long-term administration of benzodiazepines may weaken the immune system, although no conclusive evidence of such a link exists.

A clinical experiment with rats tested the effects of Klonopin and Xanax on stressed and nonstressed male rats. The stress procedure involved confining the rats to a small mesh cage for 2.5 hours each morning. Some rats received Klonopin, some Xanax, and others only a control solution of distilled water. The study continued for four weeks, after which the rats were euthanized and the clinicians carefully examined them. The research team was most interested in the health of the immune system, and they primarily investigated lymph glands and blood cell counts. The findings have implications for the treatment of anxiety in humans.

Both stressed and nonstressed rats showed immune system deficits after treatment with either Klonopin or Xanax. Rats treated with Xanax demonstrated the most serious deficits, possibly because of the medication’s unique chemical structure. Because of the experimental design, researchers were able to distinguish between immune deficiencies caused by stress alone and those caused by medication. Nonstressed, medicated rats showed less decline than their stressed counterparts, but the decline was still clinically meaningful. It’s worth noting also that these rats received relatively low doses of medication. Continued administration beyond four weeks might reveal even more profound immune system effects.

These results argue for more caution when prescribing anti-anxiety medications. Both Xanax and Klonopin appear to degrade the immune system in distinct ways. Overall, Klonopin’s effects were less severe than those of Xanax, but were still worrisome. Patients with already compromised immune systems may want to avoid this class of medications if possible. Otherwise, Klonopin may be the safest choice. In addition, short-term use of the drug is definitely preferable to a long-term prescription.


  1. Elmesallamy, G. E., Abass, M. A., Refat, N., and Atta, A. H. (2011). Differential effects of alprazolam and clonazepam on the immune system and blood vessels of non-stressed and stressed adult male albino rats. Interdisciplinary Toxicology, 4(3), 132-143.
  2. PubMed Health [Internet]. (n.d.). Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine. Alprazolam. Retrieved from

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  • amy

    April 9th, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    I have been taking klonapin for ten years and am currently suffering from compromised immunity which doc is addressing. Blood work showed very low white blood cell and leukocyte (is that right?)was low too. I am chronically sick to the point where I can’t work. Could there be a connection? I also had liver enzymes that were off.

  • amy

    April 9th, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    I also have recurring ear n sinus infection.

  • Kimberly L

    August 26th, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    I have an auto immune deficiency also, which has worsened over the past 4 years. I have been seeing a rheumatologist for the past for years without many answers, and I too have white blood cells count issues, enzyme issues and sinusitus. I have been on Social Security and unable to work as well, since 2010. I have been taking Clonazepam (Klonipin) for 18 years. After doing my own research and reading up on information such as this, I am currently weening off of the Clonazepam. I believe it is THE problem. I will find natural remedies to address my anxiety just so that I can – hopefully – get my physically health back. After having seen a number of specialists, not one has addressed the possibility that this could be the culprit in my deteriorating health. I believe it is and I am going to find out if it, in fact, is. Then I will bring it to each specialists attention and hope that others do not have to suffer from ill health because medical specialists do not look into the matter. Very disappointing, very frustrating.

  • LLB

    April 17th, 2019 at 4:31 PM

    I know this is very late coming (just found this thread) but hopefully it will help someone. I noticed that after taking a klon (I take it very rarely, maybe once a month) I would get a cold. It happened like clockwork, three times in a row before I took notice. Last night I had one. Woke with a nasty sore throat and now (evening) I’m moving into full cold symptoms. I’ve decided, once and for all: it’s not a coincidence.
    To the person above me (18 yrs on klon): be careful getting off it, because the sudden flood of signals back to your brain can cause stroke if you do it too fast. Take it slow. BUT! The main thing I’m here to say is, yes, do get off it, and yes, you WILL get your health back. It will take time (some months). I was on klon daily for 2 years and, like so many here, I was chronically sick (pains, sinus infection that wouldn’t go away, colds etc etc). Now I’m several years off a daily regimen and only “as needed.” Well, tell you what–I have established the link to my colds to my satisfaction. I’m throwing the rest of this crap away.

  • jmhp

    June 26th, 2019 at 5:06 AM

    I like to know how you tapered off and how long it took. Would you b able to tell me how long before your immune system got back to normal?
    I have taking this for 6 years and need to get off and regain my health

  • Julie O.

    April 15th, 2020 at 12:35 PM

    Dear Kimberly:
    You wrote the article discussing your use of Klonopin for 18 years, and the fact that your white blood cells were low. I know you wrote this article 6 + years ago, but i wanted to know if you ever stopped taking Klonopin, and if you did, do you still have low white blood cell counts? I took Klonopin for 16 years, and quit taking it about 8 years ago, however, I still have low white blood cell counts. I want to know if you found the same to be true for you even after stopping Klonopin??
    Thank you so much.
    Julie O.

  • Lisa

    October 28th, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    I have been taking it a long time. I now have lupus and Hashimoto’s. Both are auto immune.

  • Debbie

    December 9th, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    I have Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction and Fibromyalgia. I started taking Klonopin about 6 or 7 years ago. My health became drastically worse but I never associated it with the Klonopin until recently. I am on my second try of stopping the Klonopin and will succeed this time. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I suffer from hypothyroidism but am unable to take any type of thyroid meds,developed a bacterial infection that causes boil type bumps rhat are extremely painful and hard to clear up and have symptoms of lupus and other crazy unexplained maladies which increased after starting the Klonopin and now that I am withdrawing from Klonopin these have been even worse. I pray that once I get off the Klonopin with the help of natural immune therapy I can regain some of my health. I know now looking at the timeline, my health started going in a fast, downward spiral after starting Klonopin. I highly recommend to everyone out there, STOP THE KLONOPIN if your already on it on a tapered schedule with a Drs help but don’t let an uneducated Dr talk you into taking another benzo to stop the Klonopin as it just prolongs the process. I recommend taking Magnesium Citrate at bedtime, increasing your dose to toleration to help with slerp and brain excitability and Benadryl as needed for those nights you just can’t slerp. Also Phernergan is great for slerp and nausea from the withdrawals if you can get your Dr to prescribe it. Good luck to all of you out there trying to get off Klonopin and a WARNING to those contemplating taking it. I recommend looking for a natural alternative like Magnesium and not ever starting this hellish nightmare.

  • carol

    January 15th, 2016 at 10:33 AM

    Bless you all for courageously sharing experiences.Only by patients being truthful will we be able to spare others our own miseries. My ex husband & my sister are deep in the grips of Xanax dependency-though my sister, bless her, IS trying to detox. I have no wish to point fingers as I myself developed problems after developing chronic pain issues caused by cancer treatment. I also have anxiety issues, but am so horrified by what I’ve seen Xanax do to my loved ones, that I refuse to touch ANY pharmaceutical antianxiety agent. I rely on prayer(yes, it works),& aromatherapy…which also works but is of short duration.Sadly, I can’t use the best antianxiety agent I ever encountered. Medical marijuana not legal in my state-as it is a red state heavily controlled by Big Pharma interests.I suffer wrenching migraines w/severe nausea that medical marijuana could alleviate,but must suffer these agonies along with millions of others who also could be helped by cannabis-all because Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, has the compassion of a botfly! If Rick Scott vomited so violently that both of his eyes blackened(as mine did)-& as chemo patients often do-he’d crawl over Mount Everest to sign Medical Marijuana use into law!
    Meanwhile, I have watched the immune systems of my baby sister,& my ex collapse from the nasty LEGAL drug(Xanax)prescribed for their anxieties!
    My sister has developed recurrent tooth abcesses & my ex has a sore on his leg that has refused to heal for 6 months now. Their lives also collapsed as social problems developed related to Xanax’s unfortunate effect on impulse control.
    My ex became my ex because Xanax makes him impossible to live with. Pre-Xanax, he was a charming, funny man with a kind heart.The frighteningly hostile Grinch he becomes on Xanax would try Christ’s patience! I mourn,& miss, the man he was pre-Xanax.
    My baby sister developed legal problems related to her difficulty in controlling impulses.Once scrupulously honest, she developed a taste for ‘5 finger discounts’. The items she was caught with made little rational sense, as they were not costly-nor were they needed at the time!
    She has the most generous heart of anyone I know- is highly intelligent, well educated, tithes to humanitarian charities-and is financially secure.In the absence of any other explanation, I can only point to Xanax’s unfortunate effect on impulse control.
    My mother’s dear friend lost her only child to Xanax addiction. He shot his girlfriend, & himself. His family blames the Xanax, pointing to irrational hostilities & paranoia that developed after he began taking it.
    I knew this boy since infancy;he was a gentle, sweet soul.There was nothing violent or sadistic in his nature. He & his girlfriend were 22 & 23 years old when faulty reasoning & depression caused by benzos put an end to these children’s lives.
    I wonder how long we will allow our lives to be ruined by these drugs,before we say “ENOUGH”!-and demand safer antianxiety agents! They ARE already available-but most US-trained docs won’t tell you that.
    For many are natural remedies,& as such, are unpatentable. Some of the most effective have been rendered illegal, lest they prove a financial threat to empires. (Yes, im looking at YOU, Randolph Hearst, & yeah, you too, Big Pharma,as well as the usual suspects-Good Ol’Big Tobacco & Liquor Lobbyists!)
    Legal gambling concerns also wish to quash legal weed-for fear folks will quietly stay home & watch TV,instead of gambling paychecks away.
    What can we do?
    If you’re a Florida resident, vote “Yes” on the Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative on November 8,2016.
    If you’re a resident of another state that hasn’t approved medical marijuana use, do yourself a favor,& research it.See if you can get it on your states ballot.This plant has been used to treat safely anxiety & depression for millenia-as well as a host of other human ills, including pain, nausea,& cancer! In addition, growing commercial hemp could also help us fight climate change,& environmental degradation.
    Refuse to vote for any politico with ties to Big Pharma.
    You can look up your candidates voting history-its public record.Then vote accordingly. Ignore the fancy speeches & ads.Follow your candidate’s DEEDS-not words! Let no more corporate shills into office.As boring as it sounds, support transparent campaign finance laws(yes, a snore..but key to seizing back control of OUR country!)
    If already taking benzos, try detoxing VERY slowly;as with opiates, withdrawal syndrome CAN kill you. Talk to your doctor. If unsympathetic, find one that is willing to help you-not just send you away with a new prescription for the latest poorly researched Big Pharma Cash Cow!
    Talk to others who have detoxed;find out what worked for them. Leave no stone unturned,& do not overlook spiritual aspects in seeking help-for there is no shame in leaning on a Higher Power. It matters little where you feel that power comes from-God, your Higher Self, the Universe- all that matters is this-spiritually orientated programs meet with greater cure rates. Man truly doesn’t live by bread alone.We need fellowship, the encouragement of others,& a connection with the source of All.
    Drugs isolate us. Even if you are bedridden(as I am)-reach out to others via phone, or online, if necessary. Humans have the capacity to act as healers & guides for each other.
    Simply knowing someone else understands helps break down barriers to your freedom.
    And remember this, on those days in which you despair; you CAN do it!
    If you fail to cut down your dose today, try again tomorrow!
    One day, you WILL succeed-but only if you don’t give up!:)

  • Patricia Z.

    October 20th, 2017 at 1:01 AM

    Hi. I would loje to thank all of you for your stories. I was on clonopin for 12 years only at nite for cronic insomnia and anxiety attacks. It was God send at fist I felt such relief. But over time I seemes to hexone unable to have any happy or exciting emotion like getting excited over going to Hawaii as example. I also couldnt feel anything sexually. But I could sleep! So I took it. At about the 7 year mark I was so fuzzy in the head and had a hard time remembering things. By 8 years it was so bad I felt I wasnt part of this world but seeing it thru a hazy glass feom far away. It scarwd me so much. I couldnt work anymore. So I started trying to go off of it. It took me 4 years. When I slowly went from 1 mg a nite by shaving off just little bits of dust I could still sleep but not as well or as much. By the time I got to .25 I couldnt sleep at all. So I would take a lottle piece of ambien with it to sleep. I was determined to get off of the clonopin. About the time of this I started having muscle and nerve pain issues and great fatigue. I could harly exercise like I use to. Then I startes having pain in my vagina and urinary traxt. Also I had dey mouth and had to drink with each bite of food. My ledt eye would aometimes stick. It got bad enough that I went to the dr. and was diagnosed with sjogrens syndrome. By the time i was totally off the clonopin and fully on the ambien i started having swallowing issues and reflux. Then I started feeling sytemically sick. Ended up in the ER bcause I couldnt eat and felt like I was choking. They had to do a endoscopy and stretch my esophogus and put me on omeprozole 40mg. They also did a colonoscopy. The next morning I work up in such nerve pain all over my body and musxle pain and spasms. I cpuldnt walk or hold my head up or lift my arms etcetera. Its hard to explain the kind of pain. Unbearable. I was put on plaquinil, Gabapentin, and muscle relaxers. It keeps getting worse and nerves in my genital and pelvic are involved now also. I just think its weird that this all started after I started coming off of the klonazepam. That was 4 years ago and it just keeps getting worse and involving more organs. Its like sjogrens and nerve pain gone wild. Something in my soul says NOT a coincidence. If Id known this, I would have chosen no sleep and anxiety for sure. This is h— on earth.

  • Patricia Z.

    October 20th, 2017 at 1:10 AM

    Do glad I found this site.

  • Sheila

    October 22nd, 2017 at 6:48 PM

    Took Clonazepam for six years for insomnia. Developed CFS and chronic sinus infection. Stopped taking it three years ago but my condition didn’t improve much. Have a feeling I will never get back to full health, the way I was before started taking Clonazepam.

  • Shirley S

    February 27th, 2018 at 2:37 PM

    Hi I have been on clonazepam for only 6 months my health is getting worse. Iam trying to come off it I drop to1mg at night about 2 months ago this week I tried to stop but that was no good so I decided to .5mg .I have problems with my beathing ,hot and cold sweats,can not remember things and very tried all the time. I feel Iam one of the lucky ones as I haven’t be on it as long.I feel my Doctor put me on this drug and forgot about me.I was to be on it for just a short time then I was to come off it was me how asked to be taken off it after reading about how bad it is.I have pds and due to this druge and Doctors not fellow though my body is breaking down.It is hard either that I have a metal problem that people do not un stand now its my body turn .O it would be so nice if Doctors just took more note as at its hard
    for me to put things together.

  • Rebecca

    October 7th, 2019 at 9:09 AM

    So scared after reading all of the stories. I have been on klonopin for about 15 years prescribed by a doctor for restless leg syndrome. I developed insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks and get sick every time I go to the gym. ( exercise in the past helped me with anxiety but now I am unable to do that because when I do I get sick) I don’t find much joy in doing anything and spend most days in bed. I have a ten year old son and have anxiety over taking him to school, picking him up and going to any school events. I am currently taking 2 mg of klonopin at night for sleep (started at 1 mg but built up an immunity to it so Dr. prescribed 2 mg. He also prescribed 1 mg during the day as needed for anxiety. I desperately want to get off this drug as I believe it to be the cause of many other health issues that I have. I know tapering off this drug is the only way to get it out of my system but I am very frightened by this. I know if I talk to my Dr he will probably tell me to taper off by a 1/4 mg but I have heard that could cause many sides affects and I believe I need to taper off by literally shaving off the tiniest amount. I don’t want to take this drug any longer but I am so afraid of the side affects that it will have. Anyone with a similar story that could share theirs and how they managed to get off this drug would be greatly appreciated.

  • michael

    December 21st, 2020 at 4:35 PM

    I was prescribed klonopin for restless leg syndrome 15 years ago. I now developed a dual ache like a toothache from the back of my neck down my spine to my lower back every NIGHT!!! I fall asleep only to wake up to this insane Ache I only experience this ache from about 9pm to about 4am only the rest of the day I am totally ache free.
    I have been trying to figure out what is causing this. I completely changed my diet no dairy & gluten for starters & no sugar. After reading some of these other comments I am almost certain it has to be the Klonopin!!!!! I am going to slowly get off this drug and pray this toothache like pain go’s away. I can’t tell you how miserable I have been because of this ache. I will come back to finish my story with the results.

  • Lucy

    March 28th, 2022 at 5:01 PM

    So sorry to hear about everyone’s reactions to Klonopin. Been on it since 1996 bc anti-depressants, that are also immune limiters, gave me bad reactions. Been on several different panic-type meds w/no success. My panic attacks/PTSD started 2 yrs AFTER I had a total hysterectomy, due to CANCER & Human Papiloma Virus aka HPV, (unknown @ the time), & I had everything female-related including removal of ovaries (ovary removal cause a woman’s body to go into a forced menopause @ time or removal, making the internal body 10-15 older than it actually is); I was 34 years old @ time of cancer/surgery. Menopause set in right away & all the different anti-depressants I was given, made me feel as if I were crazy! I developed panic disorder & PTSD; Psychoanalysis for YEARS did nothing either. Then bc of the “forced menopause” & effects from it, ut opened the door tp genetic diseases from my mother such as Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis in multiple joints, Osteopenia (thinning of bones), R.A. degenerative disc disease, severe back neck problems involving bones, other bone diseases, brain tumor, & we can go on another 5 pages. Tried to get off Klonopin under Dr.’s guidance, & when I was down to 1 pill @ night from 3 per day, I started getting suicidal-type thoughts..maybe due to chronic pain, disgusting meds for chronic pain, chronic fatigue, & maybe 1-2 hrs of sleep nightly. I know not what to do & TRUTHFULLY, I DON’T TRUST AMERICAN MEDICINE ! It’s no longer about helping a patient as it used to be in the 60’s & 70’s, but for the sake of money specialists make! Why do you think people with serious money, such as actors & musicians go to Germany or other countries for help/relief? I don’t know what else to say; I’m so sorry for all of us the suffer from whatever effects of prescribed drugs. I’m 63 now, & being what I’ve been through in the last 30-plus years w/my health & pharmaceuticals, I have no choice but to stay on Klonopin, maybe lessen dose to 2 pills daily instead of 3. I’m only human & by all of you reading about my medical issues (I gave you just a few ailments/diseases), maybe you can understand WHERE I’m coming from. From my heart with lots of love, I wish ALL OF YOU, inc. me, some resolution to all of this.

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