The human brain is arguably the most complicated and least understood organ in the human body. It controls everything we do, think, and feel. The size of our human brains is why we have evolved far past any other animal on the planet. We are one of the only mammals on the planet who can remember things from our past, think into the future beyond just where our next meal will come from, and constantly learn new things and discover more about the world around us.
That is what makes dementia so scary. Our memories and ability to learn are what sets apart from all other species on earth. Without it, we can’t function. Dementia takes vibrant, intelligent people and reduces them to a cognitive function of less than most babies.
This is why we need to protect our memory and our brain before we lose it. Unfortunately, in an effort to treat other (mostly man-made) conditions, we have created drugs that solve one problem while slowly stripping us of our memories.(1, 2) It is important to know what these drugs are and how they affect your brain so that you can talk to your doctor about your options and find a solution that doesn’t come with a side of memory loss.
9 Drugs that Cause Memory Loss
Scientists are discovering more and more every day about the importance of the brain-gut connection. (7) Many hormones and chemicals that affect our brain, such as serotonin, are found primarily in the gut and GI tract.(5) Because of this, antibiotics, which kill off the good bacteria in our intestinal tract along with the bad, have a direct impact on brain function. (4, 5, 7)
Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter in the brain relevant to depression, migraines, and other neurological illnesses. (5) New research shows that many common antibiotics, especially quinolones, cause extreme confusion, mental delusion, impaired cognitive function and psychiatric disturbance. (4, 5, 6, 7)
Quinolones, especially Fluoroquinolone, have come under the most fire for their effects on the brain.(6) Others include Amoxicillin, Cephalexin (Keflex), and Levofloxacin (Levaquin). (2)
Antihistamines and anticholinergics are found in common over the counter and prescription drugs for allergies, colds, dizziness, and even sleep. (2)They alter brain function by inhibiting acetylcholine, the main neurotransmitter for learning and memory. Decreased acetylcholine is known to cause dementia, memory loss, hallucinations, blurred vision, confusion, and delirium. (1, 8, 9))
These drugs include Benadryl, Vistaryl, Tavist, Clarinex, Oxytrol for Women, and many others.(1,2)
3. Sleeping Pills
Sleep aids cause memory loss because they dampen brain activity in key parts of the brain, including those responsible for learning and memory. (1) The most prominent of these are the benzodiazepines. (10, 11)
These drugs include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Librium, Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien. (1, 2, 11)
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Statins are mainly used to help lower cholesterol for those with high levels. The problem is they also lower brain cholesterol levels, which in turn affects its ability to function properly. (1, 2, 12) Memory loss caused by statins is well-known and gives even more incentive to take initiative and lower cholesterol naturally. (13, 14)
Examples of statins include Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Prevachol, Crestor, and Zocor.
If you’re looking for some extra help with your cholesterol levels, why not try Broccoli Extract Powder? Broccoli Extract is a yellowish powder that is cultivated from the essence of broccoli flowers and stems. Supplementation of broccoli extract is intended to promote overall good cholesterol levels.
Antipsychotics repress dopamine receptors in the brain, which are responsible for transmitting signals in the brain.(18) These drugs meant to help those who suffer from paranoia, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder also cause the brain to shrink. This affects brain function as a whole, especially learning and memory, which can lead to dementia, early Alzheimer’s, and other brain-related disorders. (15, 16, 17)
Drugs that fall under this category include Haldol and Mellaril.
Used to treat hypertension, these beta-blockers interfere with messages in your brain using epinephrine and norepinephrine which affect memory loss, especially your verbal memory. (1, 2, 19)
Antihypertensives are drugs that end in -olol. Common names for these drugs are Tenormin, Coreg, Lopressor, Toprol, Inderal, Betaspace, and Timoptic. (1, 2)
7. Antidepressants and Anti-anxiety
Antidepressants, such as Elavil, Anafranil, Norpramin, and Pamelor, block the action of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which impairs your memory. (1, 2, 20)
Antianxiety drugs, including Xanax, Librium, Klonopin, Valium, and Restoril, dampen activity in the brain related to short and long-term memory. (1, 2, 15, 16, 17)
8. Narcotic Painkillers and Anticonvulsants
Both of these drugs decrease the flow of brain signals to the central nervous system and the emotional reaction to pain. This “slow down” of the brain inhibits its function, including learning and memory. (1, 2, 3)
These drugs include Fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, Diamox, Tegretol, Potiga, and Neurontin. (1, 2)
9. Parkinson’s Drugs
These drugs act differently than many of the ones previously mentioned. Parkinson’s drugs activate signaling pathways for dopamine. These pathways function largely for learning and memory, so memory loss which can lead to Alzheimer’s and dementia is a risk. (1, 2, 22, 23)
Parkinson’s drugs include Apokyn, Mirapex, and Requip.
Quick Recap: Medications Linked to Memory Loss
- Cephalexin (Keflex)
- Levofloxacin (Levaquin)
- Oxytrol for Women
The drugs listed above are just a few of the hundreds that fall into these categories. It is important that you know what you are taking and what the potential side effects are. If you are taking one of the over-the-counter options above and it is for occasional use, try to find an alternative. However, if you are currently a drug that is for a chronic illness and prescribed by a doctor, do not go off of the drug. Please talk to your doctor first about your concerns so that you can find an alternative solution.
What To Do If You Have To Stay on Medication
Check out the following articles on how to boost your memory and brain function naturally, and share this with your friends and family so everyone can be informed on the life-changing topic of memory and dementia.
- Science-backed ways to improve memory and eliminate brain fog
- 7 lifestyle tweaks to improve memory
- 10 ways to stop Alzheimer’s before it starts
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