Could your medications be melting away your memory?
According to a growing stack of research, the answer is YES.
Because it turns out a common class of meds can send your risk of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia soaring.
And taking these common drugs could be the REAL reason for those “senior moments” you or a loved one are having.
Worst of all? Some experts estimate that up to 50 percent of seniors are popping these pills DAILY.
Which means it’s very likely you or someone else you care about is taking one right now…
Could your MEDS make you lose your marbles?
Recent research has revealed that if you’re taking anticholinergic drugs for your mood, bladder problems, or even Parkinson’s disease, they’re literally messing with your mind.
Now you may not recognize the word anticholinergic, but you’ll recognize some of the drugs.
In fact, many over-the-counter (OTC) meds that most of us never give a second thought before swallowing contain them. For example Benadryl, Excedrin PM, and Actifed.
The drugs work by locking into specific nerve cell receptors which then blocks acetylcholine from binding to them.
Dementia risk skyrockets 30% with anticholinergic drugs
According to researchers regularly taking prescription anticholinergic drugs such as amitriptyline for mood problems, oxybutynin for bladder-control issues, or procyclidine for Parkinson’s disease could send your risk of dementia skyrocketing by 30 percent.
The damage can kick in after just one year of taking one. And even if you stop them cold turkey, the brain-danger effects could last for decades.
But don’t think you’re off the hook if you’re only taking OTC drugs like Benadryl. Because earlier research found folks who were taking ANY anticholinergic med for three years or more had a 54 percent higher risk of developing dementia than people taking the same dose for three months or less.
Do you remember when I mentioned earlier that anticholinergic drugs work by blocking acetylcholine? Well, as you get older, your levels of this vital neurotransmitter start to plummet.
Which means taking these drugs when you’re over 50 is a double whammy.
Anticholinergic side effects include memory loss, trouble with problem-solving, and confusion. And eventually, they can wear away your ability to handle daily tasks.
And in many cases, according to one Harvard professor, they simply don’t do the job they’re supposed to do anyway. Making them all risk with no reward.
Drug-free solutions to pee problems, depression, and more
If you want to keep these drugs from messing with your mind, you need to have a chat with your doctor. Explain to him you’re uncomfortable with the risks, and you would like to stop them as soon as possible.
But don’t worry you don’t have to suffer through the symptoms that had you start taking them in the first place. Following are some effective options that have worked for many folks and could do the same for you.
1. Bladder issues:
Incontinence and urgency issues become more common as we age. And they can really put a hurting on your quality of life.
But risky anticholinergic drugs aren’t your only option. For stress incontinence, Kegel exercises can be very effective.
To do a Kegel, you quickly squeeze and hold the muscles in your pelvis for several seconds and then release them. They are the same ones you use to hold pee in when you have to go. Aim for 50 to 100 of these squeezes a day.
Supplements can help some folks too. Start with vitamin D if you’re running low. (Your doc can test you.) Studies have linked low D to bladder leaks. Capsaicin, a hot pepper extract, could help reduce bladder irritation, urgency, and leaks. In one study folks taking an omega-3-rich pumpkin seed oil reduced daytime and nighttime frequency and leaks.
2. Depression and mood:
It turns out a common vitamin deficiency could be the culprit behind your mood issues. A recent study found that not getting enough B1, B2, B6, and B12 could be the reason you’re singing the blues.
Balancing your gut bugs could make a world of difference too. In a recent study, Irish researchers confirmed the connection between anxiety, depression, and gut flora. Add more fiber-rich foods and fermented foods such as Greek yogurt, tempeh, and kefir to your diet. And consider taking a probiotic supplement.
Also, eating more fatty fish and getting enough sunlight both are associated with a better mood and less seasonal depression.
3. Parkinson’s disease:
Folks with Parkinson’s may face the biggest risk of all from taking anticholinergic drugs. In one study people with Parkinson’s were found to have more of the memory-crushing tangles and double the amount of amyloid plaques in their brains associated with Alzheimer’s.
Talk with your doctor about alternatives that might work for you to control symptoms such as deep brain stimulation, physiotherapy to learn exercises to improve balance and coordination, and even specially designed computer games.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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