Certain medications significantly affect the functions of the brain and affect memory. Here, we describe their implications and commonly encountered side effects.

Antianxiety Drugs (Benzodiazepines)

  1. Role in memory loss: Benzodiazepines play a significant role in promoting the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity located at the GABAA receptor. Thus, the drug directly targets the vital areas of the brain involved in neuronal activities, such as those that control the short short-term to long-term memory.

  2. Adverse effects: Benzodiazepines are considered safe and effective when used for a short period (2-4 weeks). Long-term use can result in side effects such as muscle weakness, physical dependence, loss of memory, drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and slurred speech.

  3. Alternative treatment: The herbs considered an effective substitute for Benzodiazepines include passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), Kava (Piper methysticum), and valerian. Intake of magnesium has also been shown to be beneficial.

Cholesterol-lowering Drugs (Statins)

  1. Role in memory loss: Statins are the medications that are used to control the blood cholesterol level. They affect brain functioning as they lower the cholesterol level, resulting in memory impairment and delay in mental processes. An adequate amount of cholesterol is necessary to maintain the neuron connections between the brain cells. Therefore, lack of lipids results in impaired memory and learning.

  2. Adverse effects: The most common adverse effects include muscle weakness, increased risk of Diabetes mellitus, and liver damage.

  3. Alternative treatment: The herbs considered an adequate substitute for Cholesterol-lowering drugs include Psyllium (a herb commonly used to treat constipation), Fenugreek, and fish oil.

Antiseizure Drugs

  1. Role in memory loss: Anticonvulsants control the excitability of neurons by directly hampering the flow of signals. As the exchange of signals is reduced in the central nervous system (CNS), it results in memory loss.

  2. Adverse effects: The most common side effects include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, vertigo, blurred vision, headache, and tremor.

  3. Alternative treatment: The herbs considered an adequate substitute for anticonvulsants include skullcap, tree of heaven, valerian, groundsel, mistletoe, and hydrocotyle. Additionally, Vitamin E, vitamin B-6, and magnesium supplementation also help to control seizures and excessive neuronal activity.

Narcotic Painkillers

  1. Role in memory loss: The narcotic painkillers target the pain signal within the central nervous system and dampen an individual response to pain. Few key chemical neurotransmitters control these actions, which are also involved in cognitive activities. Therefore, long-term use of these drugs will affect both short-term and long-term memory.

  2. Adverse effects: The most common side effects of narcotic painkillers include constipation, slowed breathing, nausea, drowsiness, and sedation.

  3. Alternative treatment: Various herbal therapies and minerals can be used as a substitute for narcotic painkillers. These include borage seed oil, capsaicin, turmeric, ginger, and Boswellia.

Parkinson's Drugs (Dopamine agonists)

  1. Role in memory loss: The dopamine agonists enhance dopamine activity, which is a chemical messenger actively engaged in regulating the brain functions such as fine motor control, learning, motivation, and memory control. Therefore, long-term use of these drugs can cause memory loss as a side effect.

  2. Adverse effects: The most common side effects include drowsiness, confusion and hallucinations, low blood pressure, constipation, memory loss, nausea, and behavioral problems (overeating, etc.).

  3. Alternative treatment: Mucuna plant, which contains levodopa, is an essential component that increases dopamine levels in the brain. This improves the motor symptoms of the condition. In addition, Vitamin E has also proved to be beneficial in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Hypertension Drugs (Beta-blockers)

  1. Role in memory loss: The Beta-blockers affect two important chemical messengers in the brain, including norepinephrine and epinephrine. This results in memory impairment and loss of memory.

  2. Adverse effects: The most common side effects include gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, dizziness, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction.

  3. Alternative treatment: The herbs that are considered an adequate substitute for Beta-blockers include Garlic (Allium sativum), Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.), and Red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus). Potassium and Magnesium are the two minerals that are adequately required in our diet to maintain blood pressure levels. In addition, sources such as fish, bananas, and potatoes should be included.

Sleeping Aids (Nonbenzodiazepine Sedative-hypnotics)

  1. Role in memory loss: The drug directly targets the crucial areas of the brain involved in neuronal activities, such as those that control the short short-term, to long-term memory. However, they are different from benzodiazepines in structure, but the mechanism of action is the same.

  2. Adverse effects: The most common side effects include physical dependency, dizziness, confusion, loss of balance and coordination, double vision, amnesia, behavioral problems, and memory impairment.

  3. Alternative treatment: Valerian is a herb that has a calming effect as it increases the brain levels of the chemical messenger GABA. Other herbs that have a relaxing effect include chamomile tea, lemon balm, passionflower, and lavender.

Concluding Remarks

The drugs mentioned above include benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics, beta-blockers, dopamine agonists, narcotic painkillers, anti-seizure medicines, and statins. Prolonged use of these medications can result in adverse effects such as muscle weakness, physical dependence, loss of memory, drowsiness, dizziness, diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, confusion, and slurred speech. Considering a broad spectrum of clinical effects on the human mind and body, effective alternative therapeutics should be selected with minimal adverse effects.