During the 1970s when I was in medical training, we saw cases of confusion and cognitive deficits in older people. It was just called “age-associated” dementia then—before the subsequent explosion and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.
Even after we learned about Alzheimer’s, there was a lot of misinformation about the causes. For instance, doctors thought you could “acquire” the disease through mysterious infections similar to mad cow disease and scrapie in sheep. (See the sidebar on page 3 for more on this old theory.)
But even in those days when we didn’t know much about Alzheimer’s, we still recognized one common culprit behind the vast majority of memory loss: prescription drugs.
Today, I’ll tell you which drugs cause the most memory problems—and how you can protect yourself, and your memory, using natural alternatives.
Too many drugs equals too little memory
Back in the ’70s, we found that our elderly patients with mental confusion were often being given up to nine different drugs simultaneously for various chronic medical conditions.
Amazingly, their confusion often cleared up within just one day of temporarily stopping these medications. And cutting the doses once they started back on the drugs kept their confusion from returning.
The problem of polypharmacy (taking too many drugs) was an immediate, clear, and present cause of mental deficits in older patients. But research since then shows this problem isn’t restricted only to senior citizens.
You don’t have to be elderly to have drug-related memory loss
Studies show that taking many common drugs over a lifetime causes memory loss as well.
In fact, the proliferation of drugs—both prescription and over-the-counter—may be the reason why Alzheimer’s disease has exploded in recent years.
But in this case, just stopping these drugs won’t always clear up your memory overnight. That’s because it isn’t just the drugs you took yesterday that may be causing problems. Drugs you took in your 40s…or even your 20s…could be directly contributing to your memory loss.
Here’s an alphabetical list of commonly prescribed drugs that have been linked in studies to memory loss. In people of all ages.
Antidepressants. I’ve told you many times about how these widely prescribed drugs are frequently not effective. Not to mention they increase the risk of suicide (a very dangerous side effect in depressed people) and epidemics of violence such as mass shootings.
(In fact, research published last year shows that GlaxoSmithKline actually falsified data about how its antidepressant paroxetine—better known as Paxil—was no better at treating depression than a placebo. And it caused suicidal thoughts in more than 10 percent of children to whom it was prescribed.1 This deliberate fraud may be one of the biggest scandals in modern big pharma history.)
Antidepressant drugs associated with memory loss include Anafranil, Elavil, Norpramin, Sinequan, and Tofranil. These are the older “tricyclic antidepressants” (TCAs) from the 1950s.
But even though these drugs are tied to memory loss and are also linked to heart toxicity, they’re still prescribed today.
Natural alternatives: In the March issue of Insiders’ Cures (“The deadly truth behind antidepressants”), I discussed my seven-step plan to fight depression at its root, rather than just treating the symptoms with drugs.
My plan includes talking about your problems with friends, family or professionals; modifying your thinking and behavior; using light therapy for seasonal affective disorder; and exercising regularly. And of course, eating healthfully and taking proven depression-busting supplements like vitamin D, B vitamins, omega-3s, zinc, and magnesium. For full details, including supplement dosages, please refer back to the March issue. (You can download it for free by logging on to the Subscriber area of www.drmicozzi.com with your username and password.)
Antianxiety drugs. Research shows benzodiazepine drugs like Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Halcion that are used for anxiety and sleeplessness can have an unexpected side effect. These powerful pharmaceuticals may interfere with both short-term and long-term memory.
In fact, Dr. Armon B. Neel, a geriatric pharmacist for AARP, recently wrote that benzodiazepines are popular with anesthesiologists specifically because they cause memory loss.2 In light of some of the horror stories about what patients under anesthesia have heard doctors and nurses doing to them and saying about them in the OR, it’s no wonder some clinicians may prefer that these patients not be able to remember!
These effects remind me of the old phrase, “If you can remember the 1960s, then you weren’t really there.” While I was director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, I remember patients taking benzodiazepine drugs who were not sure whether something had occurred in a dream or had really happened.
They could not always distinguish between whether we had discussed a topic before or whether it was something they had only thought about…or dreamed about. They went through the day with an “otherworldly” feeling (which was just as well when visiting the “otherworldly” location of a natural healing center stuck in the middle of a big, toxic, tertiary teaching hospital like Jefferson).
Natural alternatives: The book I wrote with Don McCown, New World Mindfulness, is full of tips on how you can beat the anxiety and stress of today’s hectic world. Additionally, taking 10,000 IU of vitamin D daily, along with a high-quality vitamin B complex, has been shown in studies to improve anxiety and stress levels.
Beta-blockers. These drugs, which are prescribed for high blood pressure and other heart issues, include Betapace, Coreq, Inderal, Lopressor, and Tenormin.
But beta-blockers do more than just tackle hypertension. They also hinder the actions of critical hormones and neurochemicals such as epinephrine (adrenalin), which can cause memory problems.
Natural alternatives. First of all, don’t let your doctor go crazy trying to lower your blood pressure if it’s only moderately high. I’ve written before about how research shows that blood pressure levels as high as 159/99 do not significantly increase your risk of heart disease and death, especially as you grow older.
But if your blood pressure reading is 160/100 or higher, then by all means take immediate steps to lower it. Research shows stress is a major cause of hypertension, so breathe deeply while you consult my book New World Mindfulness for other calming solutions.
And while they are drugs, calcium-channel blockers like Losartan are typically safer and more effective than beta-blockers. They have also been around long enough to pass my test of post-marketing surveillance.
Sleeping pills. Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata are all sedatives. These drugs may help you sleep but, like the benzodiazepine anxiety drugs, their mechanism of action affects the conversion of short-term memory to long-term memory.
So you may get more sleep, but you really won’t remember (like the popular song from the ’70s about the guy who’d never been to Spain, but had been to Oklahoma…) Again, patients have told me about having an otherworldly experience or sensation as they went through the day awake (or were they?) on these drugs.
Natural alternatives: Research shows that melatonin, valerian, hops, and ashwagandha supplements can all help you sleep. So can tart or wild cherries, as I wrote in the September 2014 issue of Insiders’ Cures (“Big time health benefits from a tiny fruit”).
Statins. These cholesterol-lowering drugs (Crestor, Lescol, Lipitor, Mevacor, Pravachol, and Zocor) are just a bad idea all around. And they are the only class of drugs that can compete with antidepressants as the biggest “blockbuster” drug scandal of modern times…and perhaps all time.
I have never had anything good to say about these loony metabolic toxins that are based on a failed theory of heart disease. (And I have been warning you about statins for years, long before it was popular to blow the whistle on them.)
Thankfully, despite decades of denial, delusion, and double-talk from big pharma and its cardiology co-dependents, the truth is finally coming out far and wide about the long list of problems commonly caused by statins.
I’m talking about cataracts, diabetes, muscular disorders, and even heart disease itself!
And those aren’t the only serious health issues associated with statin-induced cholesterol reduction. Cholesterol is a critical nutrient for the brain and nervous tissue. Artificially lowering cholesterol causes connections among brain and nerve cells to suffer…and that affects your memory.
What a surprise. Before it’s too late, remember to tell your doctor to cancel your statin prescription.
Natural alternatives: The best way to protect yourself from heart disease is not to lower cholesterol, but rather to maintain a healthy blood pressure and reduce stress.
I mentioned my favorite hypertension-busting, stress-reduction technique above. You can also support overall heart health with a daily dose of a high-quality B vitamin complex, vitamins D (10,000 IU) and E (200 IU), magnesium (200 mg), selenium (100 mcg), CoQ10 (100 mg in ubiquinol form), and fish oil (1-2 grams).
Simple, natural solutions can halt—even reverse—ALL stages of memory loss
Of course, prescription drugs are just one easily-reversible cause of memory loss. There are dozens of simple, natural solutions that can help halt—and even reverse—ALL stages of memory loss.
In fact, despite what you hear from so-called mainstream medicine “experts” or the crony capitalists attempting to cash in on the latest government-sponsored “Decade of the Brain,” I believe a cure for Alzheimer’s disease ALREADY exists. Just not in the form of a magic-bullet pill mass produced by big pharma.
In a small, recent study, a completely natural regimen has produced a 90 percent success rate in improving memory, cognition, and overall brain function. And in my brand new Complete Alzheimer’s Cure protocol, I outline all of the steps in detail…along with 30 years’ worth of clinical research (previously unreported by the mainstream media)that I believe can take that 90 percent success rate even higher.
To learn more, or to enroll today, click here or call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV2S6AA.
Old theories point to rare causes of this now all-too-common disease
A generation ago, when doctors and researchers were scrambling to find the causes of Alzheimer’s and memory loss, one theory they advanced was that “slow viruses” and then “prions” could basically “infect” the brain.
One suspected culprit was Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a rare and fatal brain disorder that can cause memory loss, among other symptoms. CJD captured public attention in the 1990s when some people in England developed it after eating diseased cattle. But the theory that CJD was a human form of mad-cow disease was soon disproven.
I performed a postmortem examination on a CJD case in the early 1980s. It was so rare that I was asked to pack the specimens on dry ice and ship them to Dr. Carleton Gajdusek’s lab at the NIH.
Gajdusek shared the Nobel prize in 1976 with my faculty advisor at Penn, Dr. Baruch Blumberg. Later, Dr. Stanley Prusiner (also of Penn) won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of “prions,” or essentially crystals that cause slow infections of the brain but astoundingly are not technically “alive.”
Gajdusek worked on “slow virus” infections in the Fore Highlanders of Papua-New Guinea, often conducting postmortem brain examinations by hurricane lamp in South Pacific typhoons. He later served on the board of the nonprofit foundation I established with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to build a national health museum on the national mall in Washington. (That project fell victim to secret political backbiting, infighting, and backstabbing—but an exciting new project called The Pavilion Life Sciences Center will serve our original purpose).
Of course, we now know that slow viruses and prions are very rare—much rarer than the burgeoning Alzheimer’s disease epidemic we currently face. However, the idea that Alzheimer’s may be “contagious” has had a resurgence in recent months. See the article on page 6 for more on this interesting theory.
1“Restoring Study 329: efficacy and harms of paroxetine and imipramine in treatment of major depression in adolescence.” BMJ 2015;351:h4320.