Every time you go to take a new medicine, you should always consider the pros and cons. But now we must also ask ourselves … “Is this drug linked to dementia and memory loss?” Since recent studies are finding chilling connections between anticholinergics and some damaging brain effects.
These types of drugs include some common medications to treat allergies and dizziness, and to aid sleep, such as diphenhydramine. Of course, the most logical thing would be to think that medications for allergies and insomnia should be safe to use. But this is not always the case.
The study JAMA Neurology is important as researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine used brain scans to determine how anticholinergics impact the brain.
This is not the first time that researchers have found a connection between anticholinergic drugs and cognitive decline. In 2015, scientists at the University of Washington also found that chronic use of certain anticholinergics for sleep and hay fever medications increased risk of dementia and memory loss.
The study found this connection only in people who took these drugs for 3 or more years. (More research is needed to find out if continuous or intermittent use during that period of time leads to an increased risk of memory loss.)
9 medications that cause memory loss
It’s a bit scary to think that taking drugs that are supposed to contribute to our well-being can cause memory loss. Here is a list of drugs with anticholinergic effects that you should take care of if you want to preserve the health of your brain:
1. Medications for incontinence
Common drugs of this type: darifenacin, oxybutynin, tolterodine, flavoxate.
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises such as Kegel exercises help strengthen the muscles around the urethra and are an easy way to help fight urinary incontinence naturally. When you repeatedly tighten and loosen your pelvic floor muscles, you help improve their strength, coordination, and endurance.
- Bladder training is another natural and free way to control incontinence. The goal of bladder training is to regain control of your potty habits. While you may need to rush to the bathroom at first, try waiting ten minutes. Once you feel more comfortable with this, add another ten minutes. Continue this practice until you have reached the right time between bathroom visits. Ask your doctor to help you set clear goals through this process and keep a journal to help you and your doctor keep track of progress.
- Research suggest that foods rich in vitamin C and foods that contain beta-cryptoxanthin may help promote urinary system health. These foods include kiwi, guava, papaya, pineapple, mango, pumpkin, carrots, sweet peppers, green bell peppers, broccoli, kale, parsley, and more.
2. Muscle relaxants
Common drugs of this type: cyclobenzaprine, dicyclomine, orphenadrine.
- A study from 2011 investigated the effects massage therapy had on muscle pain and relaxation. The researchers found that massage therapy improved the management of bone and muscle pain in patients, demonstrating the relaxing effects of massage.
- Magnesium acts as a natural calcium blocker to regulate muscle contractions and help muscles relax. If you have a magnesium deficiency, your muscles can contract too much and cause cramps or spasms.
3. Narcotic pain relievers
Common drugs of this type: meperidine
Natural pain relievers exist in several different forms. Depending on the cause and the type of pain you are experiencing, various remedies may be appropriate to treat it. The best natural options for pain relief include:
- Dry needling
- Cryotherapy (for muscle aches)
- Chiropractic care
- Peppermint or lavender essential oils (for headaches and sore muscles)
- Técnica de Graston
- Epsom salt
4. Anti-seizure drugs
Common drugs of this type: carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine.
- Try to reduce common seizure triggers, including physical and emotional stress, fatigue and lack of sleep, drug or alcohol use, excessive light stimulation, noise, etc. and hormonal changes.
- While the cetogénica diet really gained popularity in 2018, doctors have used it since the 1920s to help control seizures.
5. Parkinson’s medication
Common drugs of this type: benztropine, procyclidine, trihexyphenidyl, amantadine.
- While some medications may be necessary to treat Parkinson’s, there are emerging non-drug options for some people, such as deep brain stimulation.
- According to University of Washington School of Medicine, exercise is the forefront of Parkinson’s treatment. Just be sure to move cautiously and stretch to avoid stiffness. Water aerobics and exercises for the mind and body, such as tai chi, can be excellent options.
- Acupuncture can also help alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms by promoting the release of neuroprotective agents.
6. Tricyclic antidepressants
Common drugs of this type: amitriptyline, amoxapine, clomipramine, desipramine, doxepin, imipramine, nortriptyline, trimipramine.
Combat the symptoms of depression through lifestyle changes, such as exercising, having a support network, and receive career guidance.
Eat a diet rich in folic acid, healthy fats, probiotics, and other B vitamins, or consider taking supplements.
Many studies have looked at the effect of St. John’s wort against major depression. One study in particular found it to be similar in effectiveness to standard antidepressants.
7. Antipsychotic drugs
Common drugs of this type: clozapine, olanzapine, perphenazine, quetiapine, thioridazine, trifluoperazine, loxapine, metotrimeprazine, molindone, pimozide.
- One review found that between 85 and 90 percent of Soteria household residents who use a community-based recovery model for schizophrenia and related disorders focused on growth, learning, and development of patients, were able to return to their homes and their regular routines without taking medication (not even once).
- Various supplements have also been tried against the symptoms of schizophrenia, with positive results. Including omega-3 fatty acids in the early stages of schizophrenia, l-lysine, sarcosine (also called glycine or N-methylglycine), and more.
- Also, in small studies acupuncture has been found to have antipsychotic effects in schizophrenic patients. However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits.
8. Allergy medications
Common drugs of this type: carbinoxamine, chlorpheniramine, clemastine, diphenhydramine, hydroxyzine, promethazine, cyproheptadine.
- Consuming raw local honey before allergy season is in full swing can help prevent allergy symptoms. In fact, International Archives of Allergy and Immunology they published an article who tested how using birch pollen honey before the season affected people with allergies to birch pollen. Patients who consumed honey reported 60 percent lower total symptom score, twice as many asymptomatic days, and 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms.
- Neti pots help to clear the sinuses and eliminate congestion, ridding the nasal passages of allergens and irritants.
- Learn how to use essential oils for allergies. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests that peppermint oil acts as a relaxant and exhibits antispasmodic activity, inhibiting contractions that cause you to cough. (Not recommended for children under 30 months).
- If you have a ragweed allergy, avoid melons, bananas, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, echinacea, and chamomile, as they can trigger an allergic response in your system.
- Chicken, beef, or lamb bone broth helps relieve respiratory problems. It also helps reduce inflammation in the body and stimulates the immune system..
9. Medications for motion sickness
Common drugs of this type: dimenhydrinate, diphenhydramine, meclizine, promethazine, scopolamine.
- Research suggests that ginger can help prevent motion sickness, especially as a result of circular motions such as in a flight simulator or amusement ride. Take 250 milligrams three times a day in advance. Be careful if you are taking blood thinners.
- Other investigations They have also found that taking 50 milligrams of 5-HTP and 200 milligrams of magnesium together twice a day for three months dramatically reduces motion sickness. However, keep in mind that 5-HTP is not for everyone. Before taking it, talk to your doctor and learn about known interactions. Including commonly prescribed medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, pain, migraines, and Parkinson’s disease.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that aromatherapy with peppermint or lavender oil can also prevent the onset of dizziness.
Medications for anxiety and insomnia
While it’s too early to say for sure, recent research found possible correlations between benzodiazepines (commonly prescribed drugs for insomnia and anxiety) and dementia and memory loss, but more research is still needed.
One study followed more than 1,000 older people over a 15-year period. Initially, the patients were dementia free.
After the first three years of the study, those who started taking benzodiazepines had a 60 percent more likely to develop dementia and memory loss than those who did not use the medications. With so many factors contributing to the formation of the disease, this is not enough evidence to determine causation.
However, it’s probably safe to say that the risk is still there, and with so many natural options available, it may not be worth the risk. If you have trouble sleeping at night, try:
- Using valerian root as a sleep remedy
- Set your room temperature between 15 and 21 degrees Celsius; this will lower your body’s internal thermometer, causing drowsiness
- Consume inducing foods rich in melatonin such as bananas, cherries, ginger or radishes as a snack before bed.