If you find yourself forgetting more than usual, or you sometimes feel like your mind is not as sharp as it once was, you might want to take a look inside your medicine cabinet.
Older people in particular are being advised to avoid some common over-the-counter medications, as evidence piles up of their connection to thinking problems and memory loss.
A study by the Indiana University School of Medicine, published in JAMA Neurology, used brain scans to explore the impact of some common medications on brain metabolism and atrophy in 451 participants. Among this group, 60 people were taking one or more medications that have medium or high anticholinergic activity.
To reach their conclusions, the researchers used PETs to measure brain metabolism, MRIs to scan brain structure, and a series of cognitive and memory tests.
They found that those patients who were taking the anticholinergic drugs registered worse performances on the tests than older patients who did not take this type of drug. Some of the areas where performance declines were noted included planning, verbal reasoning, short-term memory and problem solving.
Perhaps even more alarmingly, the MRIs showed that those who took the drugs had smaller brain volume and bigger ventricles.
In addition, they had lower levels of glucose metabolism in their brains in general, and in the hippocampus in particular, which is the area of the brain responsible for memory, and is commonly affected in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Effects noted even after discontinuing treatment
Researcher Dr. Shannon Risacher said: “These findings provide us with a much better understanding of how this class of drugs may act upon the brain in ways that might raise the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.”
“Given all the research evidence, physicians might want to consider alternatives to anticholinergic medications if available when working with their older patients.”
Some of the medicines in question include treatments for allergies, hay fever, colds, flu, depression, gout, diarrhea, asthma and heartburn. These effects were even noted a month after treatment ended.
Past studies have linked these drugs to a heightened dementia risk and an increased likelihood of falls. A 2013 study found that these drugs could lead to cognitive problems after just 60 days of use. Another study found a link between anticholinergic toxicity and constipation, dry mouth, delirium, visual impairments and confusion, in addition to severe cognitive decline.
Making matters worse is the fact that many older people actually take more than one of these drugs together on a regular basis. For example, they might take an allergy medication and a heartburn medicine at the same time.
Another good reason to stick to natural medicine
It’s not hard to imagine why Big Pharma would put these drugs on the market. They are all about the bottom line, and dismissive of side effects in general. In fact, impairing people’s cognitive function works to their advantage as well, because people might be more inclined to simply accept whatever lines they feed them about the medications they need and their efficacy and safety, without questioning it.
You could even take it one step further and argue that memory decline might result in people taking their medication more than once because they forgot they already took it, driving up demand and selling even more pills.
Sound outrageous? Big Pharma doesn’t care about the damage vaccines have done to countless individuals, and this is just another matter for them to shrug off as they collect their paychecks. This is why more and more people are turning to natural medicine, which generally does not carry such dangerous side effects. The Natural Medicine Summit is one good way to inform yourself about healthier alternatives to medication for a variety of ailments.
Dangerous substances are not limited to medications; they can even be found in the food you buy in stores, as noted by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, in his book Food Forensics. Clean eating is another good way to protect yourself from toxins and prevent getting sick in the first place, so that you don’t need to turn to dangerous drugs.