Dr. David Minkoff’s Health Blog

Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer’s Disease – Optimum Health Report #387

The Link between Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer’s Disease

Dear Readers,

Cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s Disease are now some of the most common causes of death in the United States.  Do you know that many popular medicines, used by many millions of Americans actually can accelerate cognitive decline and precipitate Alzheimer’s Disease?

At the top of the list are antihistamine drugs like Benadryl and to a lesser extent, Zyrtec and Claritin. These drugs are anticholinergic and block the parasympathetic nervous system. Unfortunately, these drugs increase the risk of dementia and use in older people should be cautioned. They can cause confusion, memory loss, and worsening mental function.

Blocking the neurotransmitter acetylcholine interferes with the chemical messages between neurons.

In a new study undertaken at the University of East Anglia in the U.K., and sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Society, medical records of 40,000 individuals with dementia were compared with a control group. It was discovered that those with dementia were 30% more likely to have taken certain anticholinergic bladder or Parkinson’s medications. The more medications taken, the greater likelihood of cognitive decline.

This study, 2015 study (ACT) arrived at a similar conclusion: “The ACT results add to mounting evidence that anticholinergics aren’t drugs to take long-term if you want to keep a clear head, and keep your head clear into old age. The body’s production of acetylcholine diminishes with age, so blocking its effects can deliver a double whammy to older people. It’s not surprising that problems with short-term memory, reasoning, and confusion lead the list of side effects of anticholinergic drugs, which also include drowsiness, dry mouth, urine retention, and constipation.”

Certain bladder drugs that have potent anticholinergic effects include Oxytrol, Ditropan XL, Detrol and Detrol LA. The Parkinson’s drugs, Artane and Cogentin showed strong associations with dementia. The worst antidepressants include Paxil, amitriptyline (Elavil) and doxepin (Sinequan) which have the highest “anticholinergic burden score.”

All drugs are toxins. They work by poisoning some part of the body’s mechanisms. Sometimes for short term use they can be helpful but it is wise to keep in mind that the longer you are on them and the more of them you take, you will have increased risk of side effects. Dementia is a very bad side effect. The elderly are particularly at risk – and the most likely to be put on multiple drugs. I find that for many of them, nutrition is the key as their eating habits are likely not providing them with enough nutrients to maintain their brain health.

It is for this reason that we do nutrient testing on all of our patients and we routinely find that many are deficient in many vitamins, minerals, essential fats and essential amino acids. Good medicine is nutritional medicine and bad medicine is the over prescription of drugs that can do more harm than good.

Have a great week,
Dr. David I Minkoff, MD

“What are Neurotransmitters? Neuro is nerve, transmitter is move something along.”

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    About Dr. Minkoff

    Dr. David Minkoff graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1974 and was elected to the “Phi Beta Kappa” of medical schools, the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Fraternity for very high academic achievement. He then completed both a Pediatric Residency and a Fellowship in Infectious Disease at the University of California at San Diego. He worked at the University of California and Children’s Hospitals in San Diego as an attending physician in infectious disease while conducting original research on Ribaviron, a broad spectrum anti-viral agent to fight disease. He also co-directed a neo-natal intensive care unit and worked in emergency medicine. In 1992, Dr. Minkoff’s attended a lecture by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, widely considered the father of functional medicine, during which he had a eureka moment, and began pursuing the alternative health field with a vengeance, studying under the most accomplished thought leaders on natural & integrative healing. In 1997 Dr. Minkoff and his wife set up a small clinic to help friends with their medical problems. What began as an experiment blossomed into LifeWorks Wellness Center, one of the most successful clinics for complementary medicine in the United States.