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.