The hardest part of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is watching a person you love waste away.
And not just mentally but physically, too.
Many Alzheimer’s or dementia patients just can’t stop losing weight. Within a matter of months they literally melt before your eyes, becoming thin, frail and almost unrecognizable.
In many cases, the culprit isn’t the disease but the drugs mainstream medicine is using to treat them.
According to a new study, published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, a popular (and particularly useless) class of drugs given to dementia patients may be causing dramatic and even life-threatening weight loss.
The drugs are called cholinesterase inhibitors, and some of the most popular brands include:
• Aricept (donepezil);
• Razadyne (galantamine); and
• Exelon (rivastigmine).
In this latest study, researchers found that nearly a third of patients who took the drugs experienced severe weight loss within just 12 months.
Sudden weight loss isn’t just bad for these patients’ brains. It also makes them weaker and prone to injury, which is a big problem for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who may already be unsteady on their feet.
The fact that cholinesterase inhibitors cause severe weight loss shouldn’t be terribly surprising. Some of the most common side effects include nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. It can be nearly impossible to eat after taking these drugs.
But what may be surprising for many patients and their caregivers is that these drugs have almost no benefit. Cholinesterase inhibitors have also no effect on Alzheimer’s or dementia patients and even when they work, the benefit is usually so small you won’t notice. And by triggering rapid weight loss, these drugs can actually make the conditions worse.
So why do doctors hand them out at all? It’s a classic case of what I call “cross your fingers” medicine. Doctors give very sick patients extremely questionable drugs — meds that probably have no chance of working.
But giving Alzheimer’s and dementia patients a drug that may make their suffering worse — and maybe even shorten the number of quality days they have left — is criminal to me.
Especially when there are natural treatments on the market that are much safer and are proven to support memory and brain health.
One of those is glutathione, which I wrote about in a recent issue of my Nutrition & Healing newsletter. Sometimes called the “master antioxidant,” glutathione helps your body clear out waste and toxins that can accumulate in your brain and contribute to memory loss. And the best part is that you don’t have to cross your fingers, hoping your loved one doesn’t become the next side effect statistic.Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Geriatricians Question Five Common Treatments, nytimes.com
Dementia meds may lead to harmful weight loss: Study, nlm.nih.gov