Some drugs commonly used to treat hay fever, insomnia and depression have been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, a new study reports. Drugs linked to dementia now include common anticholinergic drugs. This can lead to many side effects, including drowsiness, constipation, retaining urine and dry mouth and eyes. (S1)
How do these drugs work?
All of the medications are known to block a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which transmits nerve signals throughout the brain and nervous system. The drugs are known as “anticholinergic agents” and are commonly taken for disorders ranging from allergies and bladder problems to sleep and mood disorders.
Taking anticholinergics for more than 3 years linked to higher dementia risk
Researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine studied about 500 older people whose average age was in the mid-seventies, and who did not have a previous history of dementia. They conducted cognitive testing on the participants, evaluating simple memory recall, and they looked at higher cognitive function such as math skills and decision-making ability. (S2)
Evidence of Drugs Linked to Dementia
Those who had the highest exposure to these drugs (equivalent to taking an anticholinergic every day for more than three years), had a 54% higher risk for dementia compared to those who did not use anticholinergics at all.
What they found was that people who took this medication had higher rates of cognitive impairment.
“These findings might give us clues to the biological basis for the cognitive problems associated with anticholinergic drugs, but additional studies are needed if we are to truly understand the mechanisms involved,” Risacher said. (S3)
Natural Remedies for Allergies & Insomnia
Still, it’s often possible to deal with ailments like allergies and insomnia without turning to prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Try these home remedies:
-The essential oil present in peppermint acts as a decongestant and eases allergy symptoms.
-Steam can give relief from various symptoms of allergies and refresh and soothe irritated sinuses.
-Garlic is a natural antibiotic that can effectively ward off allergies.
-Lemon is a natural antihistamine and an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants. (S4)
-Drink some warm milk before bedtime
-Bananas contain tryptophan, and potassium and magnesium as well, which are muscle relaxants.
-Chamomile has long been a reliable remedy for helping people doze off.
-People who were exposed to the scent of lavender in the trials experienced better moods and sleep. (S5)