Essential oils combined with other lifestyle changes can often help with overall well-being and to wean our bodies off harmful chemicals that in some cases, do more harm than good. In researching dementia, I recently came across these interesting tidbits on how commonly prescribed and over-the-counter drugs can affect your brain function. This is especially helpful to me because I have a family member who is in the early stages of dementia.
You’d think some of the most popular allergy and insomnia drugs on the market would be safe, but a new study outlines some frightening health risks. The latest evidence? Drugs linked to dementia now include common anticholinergic drugs. These drugs include popular medications like Benadryl, Dramamine, Advil PM and Unison. (1) The antidepressant drug Paxil and the pain drug Demerol also have anticholinergic effects (2).
Evidence of Drugs Linked to Dementia
This isn’t the first time researchers found a connection between anticholinergic drugs and cognitive decline. This latest study published in JAMA Neurology is unique, though. That’s because Indiana University School of Medicine researchers actually used brain imaging to detect how anticholinergic drugs impact the brain. Using MRI and PET scan imaging, researchers showed how people taking anticholinergic drugs experienced lower brain metabolism and higher brain atrophy; they also scored lower on memory tests. (3)
I’ve found some simple solutions to try to incorporate the use of essential oils and other natural remedies for some of these most commonly prescribed drugs. Please keep in mind that if you have been taking these drugs, you should always check with your physician before stopping a prescribed medication.
- Try using essential oils for allergies. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests peppermint oil acts as a relaxant and exhibits antispasmodic activity, inhibiting contractions that cause you to cough. (5) (It’s not recommended for children under 30 months.) (6) Frankincense Oil is another favorite oil of mine that helps with overall health and well-being.
- If you have a ragweed allergy, avoid melons, bananas, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, echinacea, and chamomile, as they can trigger an allergic response in your system.
- Bone broth from chicken, beef or lamb helps to ease respiratory problems. It also helps to reduce inflammation in the body and boosts the immune system.
- Set your temperature for between 60 and 70 degrees F. This lowers your body’s internal thermometer, initiating sleepiness.
- Eat melatonin-rich, sleep-including foods like bananas, cherries, or radishes as a bedtime snack.
- Invest in an inexpensive diffuser and try using Lavender oil before bed. Check out my review of one of my favorite diffusers here. Lavender essential oil helps you relax or wind down before bed, and even ease the day. This oil is gentle enough to use on dogs, horses, and cats.
- Try Valerian root as a sleep remedy with a low risk of side effects.
You can look for any of these essential oils in my Amazon store.
Final Thoughts on Over-the-Counter Drugs and Dementia Risk
While you shouldn’t stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor, it’s worth a conversation to see if your medications include anticholinergic drugs linked to dementia. If they are, inquire about possible alternative options with fewer serious side effects, including these suggested natural remedies.