One treatment for disease generates many new side effects that can be worse than the original problem.
All prescription medicines have side effects. Amazing how many affect the brain!

I wrote recently about memory loss and anticholinergic drugs – those that block the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. However, there are many other types of drugs that muddle your mind and you may never know what is causing you to forget where you left the car keys or why you walked into the bedroom or kitchen?

1 – Anticholinergic drugs (also used to treat a few of the symptoms below)

Please see my article posted on September 3, 2020. There are many more details than would be presented with this article.

2 – Antianxiety drugs (Benzodiazepines)

This class of drug treats anxiety, agitation, delirium, seizures, and more. Examples are alprazolam, chlordiazepoxide, clonazepam, diazepam, flurazepam, lorazepam, midazolam, quazepam, temazepam, and triazolam.

You might recognize some of the commercial names – Xanax, Librium Valium, Ativan, Versed, and many more. Natural options to treat similar symptoms include Brazil nuts, fatty fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate.

These antianxiety drugs affect the transfer of events from short-term memory to long-term memory. Sudden withdrawal can cause side effects.

3 – Cholesterol drugs (Statins)

Statins are used to treat cholesterol. Atorvastatin, Fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, and simvastatin are the common names associated with the drug class.

Commercially they are known as Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Pravachol, Crestor, and Zocor. Foods that lower cholesterol are oats, barley, beans, eggplant, okra, nuts, apples, grapes, berries, and more.

Our brains need cholesterol to work properly. Statin drugs lower the levels of cholesterol in our bodies and in our brains. This affects nerve cell communication paths. Memory and cognitive improvement are improved when these drugs are removed.

4 – Antiseizure drugs

Nerve pain, mood disorders, seizure symptoms, and more are treated with this class of drugs.
Acetazolamide, carbamazepine, ezogabine, gabapentin, lamotrigine, levetiracetam, oxcarbazepine, pregabalin, rufinamide, topiramate, valproic acid, and zonisamide are the common names of this group of drugs.

You may know them better by the names – Diamox, Tegretol, Lamictal, Neurontin, Lyrica, Topamax, and others. The Atkins diet (modified a bit) and ketogenic diets work well with seizures. I find it interesting that nearly a hundred years ago a complete fast stopped seizure symptoms.

Drugs used to treat seizures and similar symptoms dampen the signaling from the central nervous system to the brain which results in memory loss.

5 – Antidepressant drugs (Tricyclic antidepressants – TCAs)

This category of drugs is used for symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, chronic pain, and more.

We see them advertised as Elavil, Anafranil, Norpramin, Sinequan, Tofranil, Pamelor, and others. Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, lean organ meats, oysters, peppers, and a few other foods work well to calm some of the symptoms associated with depression.

The other, more common, names associated with the class of drugs are amitriptyline, clomipramine, desipramine, doxepin, imipramine, nortriptyline, protriptyline, and trimipramine.
These drugs block the required chemical messenger actions of serotonin and norepinephrine which cause memory loss and difficulty concentrating.

6 – Narcotic painkillers

All of us have had pain somewhere in our bodies. Many times, it goes away easily. Other times it becomes chronic and we seek help.

Fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, and oxycodone are the primary pain-killing drugs. We generally know them by the names – Vicodin, Norco, Duragesic, Dilaudid, OxyContin, Percocet, and more.

Foods that work well for some types of pain are ginger, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, salmon, turmeric, tart cherries, chili peppers, virgin olive oil, and more. I personally use turmeric with piperine (black pepper extract which enhances the absorbability) and tart cherry extract.

The feeling of pain is transmitted to the brain as any other signal. Blunt the signal and you affect the brain. Some painkillers can interfere with memory for the short or long term. Be careful when using these drugs for longer than thirty days.

Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) affect dangerous gastrointestinal issues that should be avoided with long-term use. Aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen sodium, and others are in this category of drugs. Motrin, Advil, Aleve, Tylenol, Bayer, and other well-known names identify pain-relieving drugs.

7 – Parkinson’s drugs (Dopamine agonists)

Parkinson’s drugs also treat pituitary tumors and restless legs syndrome. It is made under the names Apokyn, Mirapex, and Requip. The less common names are apomorphine, pramipexole, and ropinirole.

Signaling pathways are affected by this type of drug. Motivation, pleasure, fine motor skills, learning, memory, and more are affected. The side effects are sometimes worst than the prescription drug – confusion, delusions, hallucinations, overeating, gambling, and more.

Some foods can exacerbate symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. As such, avoid sugary foods, overindulgence in proteins and saturated fats, and cut down on sodium. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy, and moderate protein-rich foods are recommended.

9 – Hypertension drugs (Beta-blockers)

High blood pressure, congestive heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, and more are handled with beta-blockers that slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure.

Tenormin, Coreg, Lopressor, Toprol, Inderal, and other commercially available drugs are used with hypertension. The more common names are atenolol, carvedilol, metoprolol, propranolol, sotalol, and timolol – notice that most end in olol.

Beta-blockers block or interfere with the signaling messages to the brain. Leafy greens, berries, red beets, oatmeal, bananas, salmon, seeds, and other foods work well to lower high blood pressure.

9 – Sleeping aids (Nonbenzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics)

Sleep, a subject close to my heart for good health, is affected by many things – please see my article written yesterday – for details on the causes of not getting quality sleep.

Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien are the frontrunners in sleeping aids. They can be found also under the names eszopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem. Sleeping pills affect the pathways to the brain as almost every other drug discussed in this article.

Behaviors, side effects, addiction, and withdrawal are major problems with this group of drugs. Be careful about starting any kind of sleep aid. Melatonin is often a relief for many.

Foods that enhance the quality of sleep include almonds, turkey, chamomile tea, kiwi, tart cherries, fatty fish, walnuts, and more. Regular exercise is also helpful. Stress management might be the right solution also.

10 – Incontinence drugs

A few of us have overactive bladders and cannot get to the bathroom in time. As such, Enablex, Ditropan XL, Oxytrol, Vesicare, Detrol, and others are prescribed.

Darifenacin, oxybutynin, solifenacin, tolterodine, trospium, oxybutynin, and others are used to treat incontinence. Would you be surprised to know that the chemical messaging to the brain is affected by drugs used to treat bladder problems? Involuntary contractions associated with urine flow are the result of blocking acetylcholine which incontinence drugs do so well.

Some studies have shown that incontinence drugs can add ten or more years to your cognitive aging. If you are near retirement age and taking drugs for incontinence, then you might be older than you think you are – or at least your brain thinks so.

Pelvic floor exercises, smoking cessation, reduction of caffeine and alcohol, avoiding heavy lifting, and more options can make your life better if you have incontinence. There may be a condition that results in incontinence – talk to a professional about side effects causing urine flow problems.

11 – Antihistamines (First-generation)

I do not think there is a person who has not had a cold in their life. Sometimes an antihistamine is used to counter the allergy symptoms. Antihistamines are also used to treat motion sickness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, anxiety, and even insomnia.

Brompheniramine, carbinoxamine, chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine, and hydroxyzine and commonly used names for antihistamines. You usually see the boxes labeled as Dimetane, Clistin, Chor-Trimeton, Tavist, Benadryl, and Vistaril.

These drugs can be found in both over-the-counter options as well as a prescription. The newer-generation antihistamines such as Claritin, and Zyrtec. Our memory and learning are inhibited by these drugs.

Bell peppers, broccoli, cantaloupes, cauliflower, citrus, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes, and other foods can help to ease symptoms associated with the common cold.


Many things in addition to drugs affect our memory and ability to focus and learn. Excessive alcohol, drugs, and smoking should be avoided. Sometimes an old head injury can create problems years later. Sleep deprivation is a major factor in brain function. Imbalances in nutrients, especially vitamin B12, can cause Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.

Stress and the ups and downs of living on the edge can impact the ability of our brains to operate within normal limits. We can control many of them. Some we cannot.

Talk to your physician before beginning any new drug regimen. Do not stop any prescription drug you are currently on. Do not intermix new foods with the drugs you are taking without consulting your doctor. There are too many things that can go wrong.

Know the side effects of the drugs you are taking. When in doubt, talk to a pharmacist.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –



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