I recently came across reputable research strongly linking two very commonly prescribed types of medication to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The first group are medications with anticholinergic effects prescribed to treat depression, insomnia and allergies that are all linked with the development of dementia. In March of 2015, this research was reported in a large study published in JAMA, the journal of the most mainstream medical organization, The American Medical Association. Medications included in this class were tricyclic anti-depressants, as well as such common over the counter medications such as Advil PM, Tylenol PM, Motrin PM, or Benadryl.
The study showed that longer term use is associated with increased risk, but short term use is also linked with higher risk of developing dementia, which may not be reversible, even after the drug is stopped:
“people taking a minimum of 25 mg of an anticholinergic called diphenhydramine (or one Advil PM, Tylenol PM, Motrin PM, or Benadryl pill) a day for three to 12 months increased their relative risk for dementia by 19 percent; one to three years, 23 percent; three to seven years, 54 percent compared to no use (if the statistically significant increase occurred among the latter group).” Drug Discovery and Development
It is extremely common for physicians to recommend Benadryl for sleep or for treatment of allergic symptoms. Benadryl was considered benign, just like Miralax, a laxative, routinely prescribed by pediatricians for constipation. There are many distraught and guilty parents who have reported serious neuropsychiatric symptoms as a consequence of Miralax use.
The second class of medications are benzodiazepines routinely prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. Benzodiazepines include Ativan, Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Restoril, to name the preparations most frequently prescribed. In September of 2014 the Harvard Health Blog reported on a Canadian study of 2000 patients over age 66 who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease with a comparison group.
“They randomly selected more than 7,000 others without Alzheimer’s who were matched for age and sex to those with the disease. Once the groups were set, the researchers looked at the drug prescriptions during the five to six years preceding the Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
People who had taken a benzodiazepine for three months or less had about the same dementia risk as those who had never taken one. Taking the drug for three to six months raised the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 32%, and taking it for more than six months boosted the risk by 84%.
The type of drug taken also mattered. People who were on a long-acting benzodiazepine like diazepam (Valium) and flurazepam (Dalmane) were at greater risk than those on a short-acting one like triazolam (Halcion), lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax), and temazepam (Restoril).”
It is horrifying that these medications, which are extremely commonly prescribed, are so strongly linked with the development of dementia.
The simple laboratory studies of blood and urine recommended by The Walsh Research Institute can ascertain whether biochemical imbalances are potentially contributing to symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia or allergies. Protocols of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids can be prescribed to safely rebalance the biochemistry and alleviate all of these symptoms, without causing irreversible dementia. Depression, insomnia, anxiety and allergies are disorders which can be related to over and under methylation, and dysfunctional pyrolle and copper metabolism.
My last two posts have been about methylation disorders and pyroluria. My esteemed colleague and kindred spirit in Louisville, Kentucky, holistic adult and child psychiatrist, Courtney Snyder, MD, recently wrote an excellent post about copper. I recommend that you check our her thoughtful brand new blog.
MidolMidol is typically taken duinrg women’s menstrual cycle to help alleviate cramps and bloating.Some common side effects of Midol include ringing in the ears, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, dizziness, headaches, nervousness and blurred vision.Do not combine with other drugs because when combined with blood thinners like Warfarin, Midol increases your risk of serious bleeding in your stomach. Antidepressants like Lexapro, Zoloft and Effexor cause easy bruising when taken with Midol.Some patients develop aseptic meningitis, a dangerous illness that causes swelling of the tissue that lines the brain and spinal cord while taking Midol. Others experience perforation of the intestines related to use of the drug.With some patients, the use of Midol results in fatal heart attack or stroke. Women with a history of heart disease should not take Midol.VicodinVicodin is a prescription-only narcotic pain reliever.Vicodin may cause some side effects. Among the less-serious possible side effects is anxiety, dizziness, drowsiness, ringing in your ears, blurred vision, dry mouth, mild nausea, vomiting, constipation, upset stomach, and headache and mood changes. If any of these side effects become bothersome for you, talk to your doctor about switching to a different medication.Vicodin is a powerful narcotic pain reliever. Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you overdose, you will need immediate medical help. An overdose could be fatal. Signs of a possible overdose include weak breathing or no breathing, coma, blue lips, slow heartbeat, low pulse, muscle weakness, fainting, confusion, cold and clammy skin, extreme drowsiness, sweating, severe nausea and vomiting, dark urine, jaundice and pinpoint pupils.Certain pre-existing conditions may preclude you from using Vicodin, or you may need an adjusted dose. Tell your doctor about your complete medical history.Vicodin may interact with other drugs. This may increase or intensify side effects. Disclose all of your other medications to your doctor. Do not use any other medications that contain acetaminophen, as you may be at risk for liver damage.
Thank you for taking the time to write this useful information. People need to understand that many commonly prescribed medications are not benign.
My good neighbor friend BLAMES taking Midol for many years for the major hearing loss she lives with today. Today she works to be very holistic and resists about every drug an MD will attempt to give her.
For an informative piece of reading check out:
Confessions of a Medical Heretic book. I’m close to buying it at alibris for about a $1. It’s a 1979 book but works for today’s life and our healing. Talk about the modern world of medicine/drugs….doctors and these drugs don’t heal, it’s all damaging bandaids…
Thank goodness for the health blogs and all those like minded people who KNOW better….
After a previous liftime of allergy/sinus issues, drugs and allergist, allergy SHOTS, and never never improving. I found Pycnogenol in 1995 and we were told at a lecture on it, that it could prevent cancer….I got on it immediately and stayed with it for 1 yr. After a few days on it, allergy/sinus issues were history.
After a year I found grape seed extract and been taking this OPC for 19 yrs….no drugs, no allergist, only so much improvement. I’m 77 and deal with a mess from hip replacement at 72 and lifelong OA, but otherwise good health. Thanks for your blogs.
Thanks for writing. I believe your experience may benefit others.
Courtney Snyder says
Thanks for sharing this important information. It’s unfortunate (as you indicate), how benign certain meds, especially over the counter meds, seem. Your post makes me wonder about methylation – ie. undermethylated individuals ending up on (and symptomatically benefitting from) antihistamines, even though that doesn’t address the underlying problem and as the research you cited suggests, is likely contributing to a much more severe problem. All so interesting.
Its true. Undermethylated individuals to seem to find anti-histamines helpful in the short term, and so of course, they are unsuspecting and it makes sense that they would want to take them for relief. In all my training Benadryl was considered completely benign. That study came a shock to me, and a cautionary tale that potentially relates to other pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and prescription medications.