• Studies Prove That These Drugs Make Your Brain Stop Working...

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    Drugs commonly
    taken for a variety of common medical conditions negatively affect
    your brain, causing long-term cognitive impairment. These drugs,
    called anticholinergics, block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter.

    They include
    such common over-the-counter brands as Benadryl, Dramamine, Excedrin
    PM, Nytol, Sominex, Tylenol PM, and Unisom.

    Other anticholinergic
    drugs, such as Paxil, Detrol, Demerol and Elavil are available
    only by prescription.

    Physorg reports:

    “Researchers
    … conducted a six-year observational study, evaluating 1,652
    Indianapolis area African-Americans over the age of 70 who had
    normal cognitive function when the study began … ‘[T]aking one
    anticholinergic significantly increased an individual’s risk of
    developing mild cognitive impairment and taking two of these drugs
    doubled this risk.'”

    Sources:
    Physorg July
    13, 2010
    Neurology
    July 13, 2010; 75(2):152–9

    Dr. Mercola’s
    Comments:

    Many view
    over-the-counter (OTC) drugs as safe because they don’t require
    a prescription. Well nothing could be further from the truth.

    In fact,
    many OTC drugs were previously carefully monitored prescription
    drugs. Many people are not aware that while I was in college in
    the 1970s, I worked as a full time pharmacy apprentice and helped
    sell drugs to patients all day long.

    Motrin was
    the first non-salicylate prescription NSAID. Now it is a popular
    OTC ibuprofen option. Similarly, anti-ulcer drugs like Tagamet,
    Zantec, and Prilosec used to be carefully controlled. Now they
    can all be easily purchased in a smaller “OTC strength” that nearly
    doubles the number of pills required to equal the prescription
    dose.

    Just because
    a drug is available without a prescription does not make it any
    less dangerous. It is still a chemical, which in no way, shape,
    or form treats the cause of the problem and can lead to complications
    that can seriously injure, if not kill, you or someone you love.

    So this is
    clearly important information that can help you or someone you
    love reduce your risk of dementia as you get older. Based on the
    findings of this study, I would strongly recommend that seniors
    in particular avoid all anticholinergic drugs, like Benadryl (generic
    is diphenhydramine) which is a pervasive and commonly used in
    virtually all of the OTC sleeping pills.

    Researchers
    will continue studying the matter to see whether anticholinergic-induced
    cognitive impairment can be reversed, but don’t hold your breath.
    Avoidance is really the best solution.

    What are
    Anticholinergic Drugs?

    Anticholinergic
    drugs block a nervous system neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.
    Those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease typically have a marked
    shortage of acetylcholine.

    Anticholinergic
    drugs are available both over-the-counter and by prescription,
    as medications used for a variety of symptoms can have this effect.
    Examples include night-time pain relievers, antihistamines, and
    other sleep aids, such as:

    • Excedrin
      PM
    • Tylenol
      PM
    • Nytol
    • Sominex
    • Unisom
    • Benadryl
    • Dramamine

    Prescription
    drugs with anticholinergic effects include certain antidepressants,
    medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain
    relievers.

    Examples
    of prescription meds in these categories include:

    • Paxil
    • Detrol
    • Demerol
    • Elavil

    A Special
    Note for Aspartame ‘Reactors’

    Many of the
    drugs listed here, as well as a long
    list of additional ones
    , contain diphenhydramine.
    As an important side note, you need to beware that chewable tablets
    and rapidly disintegrating tablets that contain diphenhydramine
    may be sweetened with aspartame.

    If you have
    the genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU), you must be particularly
    careful to avoid these types of drugs and all other types of aspartame-sweetened
    foods and beverages in order to prevent mental retardation.

    But many
    other people also suffer detrimental
    health effects from aspartame
    , so you should know that this
    is yet another potential source of this toxic sweetener.

    Anticholinergic
    Drugs Increases Dementia in the Elderly

    I’ve previously
    written about the health dangers of many of these individual drugs.
    Paxil, for example, is an
    addictive antidepressant
    that is well known to increase the
    risk
    of suicide in children and teens
    . It is also known to increase
    violent behavior.

    Benadryl
    and Sominex have previously been found to cause
    hallucinations in the elderly
    , and a number of the drugs on
    the list also promote
    dental decay
    .

    The results
    of this study indicate that drugs with anticholinergic effects
    may be yet another piece of the puzzle that might explain the
    sharp rise in dementia and cognitive decline.

    According
    to the University of Michigan
    , dementia strikes about 50 percent
    of people who reach the age of 85. Of those, about 60 percent
    go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

    In
    this study
    , the researchers tracked the intake of anticholinergic
    drugs and monitored the cognitive abilities of 1,652 African-American
    seniors, aged 70 and older, for six years. All of the participants
    had normal cognitive function at the outset of the study.

    Fifty-three
    percent of the participants used a ‘possible anticholinergic,’
    and 11 percent used a ‘definitive anticholinergic’ drug.

    They found
    that those who took drugs classified as ‘definite anticholinergics’
    had a four times higher incidence of cognitive impairment.

    In those
    who were not carriers of the specific gene, APOE 4 allele,
    the risk was over seven times higher. (The APOE 4 gene is known
    to influence many neurological diseases, and is considered a high
    risk factor for Alzheimer’s.)

    Taking two
    of these drugs further increased the risk of cognitive impairment.

    PhysOrg reports:

    “Simply
    put, we have confirmed that anticholinergics, something as seemingly
    benign as a medication for inability to get a good night’s sleep
    or for motion sickness, can cause or worsen cognitive impairment,
    specifically long-term mild cognitive impairment which involves
    gradual memory loss.

    As
    a geriatrician I tell my Wishard Healthy Aging Brain Center
    patients not to take these drugs and I encourage all older adults
    to talk with their physicians about each and every one of the
    medications they take,” said Malaz Boustani, M.D., IU School
    of Medicine associate professor of medicine, Regenstrief Institute
    investigator and IU Center for Aging Research center scientist.”

    Even More
    Reasons to Ditch the Sleep Meds

    In 2008,
    Americans filled more than 56
    million prescriptions for sleeping pills
    and spent more than
    $600
    million on over-the-counter sleep aids
    . But anticholinergic
    sleep medications in particular may be causing far more harm than
    good, especially long term, without providing any benefit
    at all.

    In a recent
    article, CBC News reported
    that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    has had data for 15 years which shows that over-the-counter sleep
    aids like Tylenol PM and Excedrin PM do not offer any significant
    benefit to patients.

    There’s no
    explanation for why the FDA took 15 years to evaluate the industry’s
    research, but upon final analysis “the data suggests the combination
    products are statistically better than a placebo but not by much,”
    CBC News reported.

    I guess it
    can be chalked up as yet another vibrant example of how industry
    research frequently amounts to little more than corporate wishes
    and good PR fodder.

    Another analysis
    of sleeping pill studies
    from 2007 (financed by the National
    Institutes of Health) found that sleeping pills like Ambien, Lunesta,
    and Sonata reduced the average time to go to sleep by just under
    13 minutes compared with fake pills – hardly a major
    improvement.

    Yet, the
    participants believed they had slept longer, by up to
    one hour, when taking the pills.

    This may
    actually be a sign of a condition called anterograde amnesia,
    which causes trouble with forming memories. When people wake up
    after taking sleeping pills, they may, in fact, simply forget
    that they had been unable to sleep!

    You would
    be far better off putting your money toward authentic solutions
    to help you sleep than on sleeping pills, as it’s now clear that
    they do next to nothing to help you sleep — in fact, they may
    actually make it more difficult for you to get a good
    night’s rest naturally — and may significantly increase your risk
    of dementia.

    Sleeping
    Pills are NOT a Safe Solution for Sleepless Nights

    Please understand
    that resorting to sleep medications is risky business, and that
    these pills do not address the underlying reasons why you’re having
    trouble sleeping in the first place.

    In addition
    to the long-term problems already discussed, there are other serious,
    not to mention bizarre, risks involved.

    For starters,
    these pills are notorious for being addictive, which means that
    once you want to stop taking them, you’ll likely suffer withdrawal
    symptoms that could be worse than your initial insomnia. Some,
    such as Ambien, may also become less effective when taken for
    longer than two weeks, which means you may find yourself needing
    ever-higher dosages.

    Ambien may
    also make you want to eat
    while you’re asleep
    – and I don’t mean sneaking down
    to grab a piece of fruit. The sleep eating can include bizarre
    foods such as buttered cigarettes, salt sandwiches, and raw bacon.

    Sleeping
    pills, and again Ambien in particular, are also known to increase
    your risk of getting
    into a traffic accident
    . Ambien actually ranks among the top
    10 drugs found in the bloodstreams of impaired drivers, according
    to some state toxicology labs.

    Among the
    elderly, using sleeping pills may increase the risk of nighttime
    falls and injuries, and anyone who takes them may find they wake
    up feeling drowsy if the effects of the drug have not worn off
    yet.

    You’re far
    better of finding safe and natural solutions that will actually
    address the underlying causes of your sleepless nights instead
    of just cover up the resulting symptoms.

    How to
    Get a Good Night’s Sleep Without Dangerous Drugs

    If you are
    having trouble sleeping, please do not ignore the problem or simply
    wait for it to go away. Quality sleep is just as important as
    your need for food, water, and pure air – and there are very
    simple methods to help you get yours.

    Please read
    my comprehensive sleep guide 33
    Secret’s to a Good Night’s Sleep
    for my full set of recommendations,
    but to start, make certain you are exercising regularly.

    A Stanford
    University Medical School study found that after 16 weeks in a
    moderate-intensity exercise program, subjects were able to fall
    asleep about 15 minutes earlier and sleep about 45 minutes longer
    at night. However, don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it may
    keep you awake.

    Stress is
    another major reason why people have trouble sleeping, which is
    why I suggest you start to wind down from your day at least an
    hour before your bedtime (but preferably two or more).

    Calming activities
    such as journaling, meditating, sipping herbal tea, washing your
    face, using the
    Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
    or reading a book may soothe
    your mind and help you unwind. Be sure your phone, email, and
    television are all off during this time.

    Make sure
    your sleeping environment is comfortable and conducive to sleep.

    This includes
    keeping the temperature cool, adding in some white noise if you
    need it and making sure your room is pitch-black. If there is
    even the tiniest bit of light in the room it can disrupt your
    circadian rhythm and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin
    and serotonin. For this reason, I highly recommend adding room-darkening
    drapes to your bedroom, or if this is not possible wearing an
    eye mask to block out any stray light.

    Again, by
    following my 33
    Secrets for a Good Night’s Sleep
    , the majority of people will
    be able to fall asleep and stay asleep. However, for times when
    sleep is especially difficult, these eight
    natural remedies
    may also help and are far safer than sleeping
    pills of any kind.

    August
    5, 2010

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