Plus Harmless, Natural Alternatives for Each
I might just be the queen of e-mail newsletters. Someone recently said that e-mail newsletters are “dead.” I said, “Not in my inbox.. they’re very much alive and well.” One of my favorite health-related newsletters is called Doctor’s House Call. It’s from Dr. Al Sears, MD and I highly recommend it.
I was anxious to share a recent edition with you. How anxious? Well, it just landed in my inbox and hour ago.
Many drugs that we buy and use regularly are actually doing our brains harm. Benadryl and Dimetapp (allergies), Unisom (sleep aid), Paxil (depression). Dramamine (motion sickness), and Demerol (pain killer).
I have used Benadryl, personally, for allergies as long as I can remember. As for the others, I’m only familiar with Dramamine – I’ve used it for motion sickness a few times over the years. The problem with these drugs is this: They all belong to a class of drugs called anticholinergics (AC). These medicines are effective because they block the action of acetylcholine in the brain.
As Dr. Sears points out, “.. it’s always a bad idea to wage war on a part of your body.”
I’ll simply let you read the rest of the newsletter by posting it below. I’ll chime in at the bottom with more information about where you can find the natural remedies he lists.
From Doctor’s House Call June 1, 2016:
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Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter. It carries messages throughout your nervous system and stimulates muscle contractions throughout your body.
AC drugs stop that stimulation. They block acetylcholine from getting into nerve cells. That can shut down natural movement of muscles in the gut, lungs, heart, urinary tract, and other parts of the body.
Perhaps worst of all, it affects the parts of the brain involved in learning and memory. I’ve seen confusion, memory loss and declining mental skills in my patients who come to me on these drugs.
New research confirms what I’ve seen in my own practice. Studies now link AC drugs to cognitive impairment and dementia.
Researchers looked at patients’ brains using PET scans and MRIs. They found that people taking AC drugs had reduced brain sizes. They also had lower brain metabolism.
In other words, their brains weren’t as active. It was especially true in the hippocampus — the part of the brain associated with memory.
Another study in JAMA Internal Medicine found a link between long-term use of AC drugs and dementia. Pharmacists from the University of Washington tracked nearly 3,500 men and women aged 65 and older. They used pharmacy records to determine all the drugs each person took in the 10 years before starting the study. Then they tracked the people for seven years.
Results showed people who used AC drugs were more likely to develop dementia. And their dementia risk increased with the cumulative dose over the years. Taking an AC for more than three years meant a 54% higher dementia risk than taking the same dose for just a few months.
But even taking AC drugs for a few months can interfere with your ability to think. A study in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia found that AC drugs cause cognitive problems when taken continuously for as few as 60 days.
Here are some alternatives I suggest to my patients.
1. Natural Sleep Aids
Instead of Unisom or other dangerous sleeping pills, I recommend these 100% natural alternatives. You can get them at most health food stores.
- Melatonin. This natural sleep hormone reverses insomnia by resetting your clock. But make sure you get the right kind. Pills get destroyed in your gut before you get the full effect. I recommend melatonin sprays. Take 500 micrograms to 1 mg about 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep.
- Valerian Root. This herb has a calming effect on the nerves. It helps you fall asleep and get better quality sleep. Take 300 to 600 mg, 30 minutes to two hours before going to bed. It may take up to two weeks of daily usage to get the full benefits.
- Tryptophan. This amino acid is found in sleep-inducing foods milk and turkey. I use a starting dose of 250 mg a half an hour before bedtime. If that doesn’t produce good quality sleep, increase the dose to 500 mg. You can enhance its effect by taking it with a glass of warm milk.
2. Natural Antihistamines
When your immune system spots an invader, your body releases defensive chemicals called histamines. Itching, sneezing and even hives are all signs that histamines are at work. Instead of reaching for AC drugs like Benadryl and Dimetapp, try these alternatives.
- Marshmallow Root. Used in traditional European cough medicines, it’s known to relieve irritation of mucous membranes. And it helps the body expel excess mucus. Look for dried root, extracts, teas, tinctures or capsules in your health food store.
- Burdock. Both the seeds and the root help soothe the mucous membranes. It’s also used to treat colds and sore throats.
- Acerola Cherry. Considered a “superfruit,” this cherry has eight times more vitamin C than an orange and acts as a natural antihistamine.
3. Nature’s Antidepressant
Boosting vitamin D can help get you off dangerous AC antidepressants like Paxil. It helps the brain make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. In fact, vitamin D can boost serotonin by anywhere from double to 30 times. 4
I recommend a daily intake of 8,000 IUs of vitamin D. Here are the best ways to get it…
- Sunshine. Getting some midday sun unprotected for about 10 to 15 minutes a day is good for you. It will give you between 3,000 and 5,000 IUs of vitamin D.
- Vitamin D Foods. A serving of cooked wild salmon or mackerel provides roughly 350 IU vitamin D. Sardines or tuna in oil provide about 225 IUs of vitamin D. And one tablespoon of cod liver oil contains nearly 1,400 IUs.
- Vitamin D3 Supplements. I recommend taking a supplement of vitamin D3 called cholecalciferol. It’s the same vitamin D3 that your body produces. Just be sure to avoid the synthetic D2 form found in most multivitamins. It’s less potent and less absorbable.
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Where Can You Find these Supplements?
Sunshine and Vitamin D foods are easy enough, and the other natural alternatives take very little effort. You can check Dr. Sears’ Private Label Supplements at Primal Force Supplements.
- Marshmallow Root, from Nature’s Way
- Burdock, from Nature’s Way
- Acerola Chewable Cherry Wafers
- Salam Vitamin D3
- You can find the other supplements on Amazon
Again, I wholeheartedly recommend the Dr. Al Sears, MD newsletter. I’m going to try the Acerola Cherry and Marshmallow Root (tea) and see if they can handle what my intense allergies throw at them. I’ll let you know how it goes! If you’re looking for a more natural alternative to what ails you, be sure to keep your usual medication on hand, just in case. I’m anxious to try allergy supplements, but I have zero intention of being caught without Benadryl on hand.
Also, if you could possibly be allergic to any supplement or ingredient in that supplement, don’t even think about it. Look for your next alternative.