Clonidine Pharmacology & Classification

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Have you ever heard of clonidine? It's a drug that has more than one use. You'll learn how it can be classified, its important pharmacological aspects, and its major uses.


Many drugs on the market have one particular use. For instance, some only relieve pain if you have a minor ache. Others help to cure a skin infection if you've got an infected cut. You get the idea. However, there are also quite a few drugs that have more than one use. One of these drugs is called clonidine, or clonidine hydrochloride. An example of a brand name for this medication is Catapres-TTS.

Clonidine pills and a Catapres transdermal patch are seen here.

Let's find out how this drug is classified and how it works.


Clonidine can be classified in more than one way. Chemically speaking it can be classified as a biochemical derivative of imidazoline. Imidazoline is an organic compound that contains an imidazoline ring. This ring is derived from a compound called imidazole, which contains three carbon atoms, two nitrogen atoms, and four hydrogen atoms. Pharmacologically, clonidine is an alpha-2 adrenergic agonist. We'll get in to what this means in the next section on the pharmacology of clonidine.

Another way to classify clonidine is via its therapeutic effects. It is an analgesic and an antihypertensive. An analgesic is a pain reliever and an antihypertensive is 'anti-' (against) high blood pressure (hypertension).


The basic way that clonidine works isn't hard to understand. Your nervous system is partly dependent on protein molecules called receptors. Think of them as buttons that you might hit with your fingers in order to produce some sort of effect. However, they are not buttons, they are protein molecules. And it's not your fingers hitting them; it's biochemicals within your body.

These receptors sit within the cell membranes of tissues throughout your body. Some receptors are found throughout the body, while other receptor types are specific to one organ or another. Once a receptor receives a stimulatory biochemical signal, such as a naturally produced hormone or neurotransmitter or a synthetically produced drug, it initiates a cascade of steps that lead to a certain output or action within the body.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account