A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease can be devastating to patient, family and
friends. It is the eighth leading cause of death in the US and a person can live
an average of eight years or more after diagnosis. While no one knows what
causes it, we do know there is a chemical in the brain called acetylcholine that
helps nerve cells to communicate. Research has shown that there is not enough
acetylcholine in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. As a matter of
fact, in advanced Alzheimer's cases, acetylcholine levels plunge 90% or more,
promoting huge brain cell die-offs.
We also know an enzyme (neurotransmitter) known as acetylcholinesterase
breaks down acetylcholine in the brain. That's why the medications Aricept,
Cognex, Exelon and Reminyl are called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. They
prevent increased concentrations of acetylcholinesterase from destroying what
little acetylcholine Alzheimers patients have left. Of these medications,
Reminyl is the only one that contains galantamine.
Five different Belgium studies on thousands of Alzheimer (AD) patients have
shown that galantamine, a natural botanical extract derived from various plant
species (particularly snowdrops, daffodils and spider lilies) is an effective
treatment for Alzheimer's Disease.
Galantamine is unique. It not only blocks acetylcholinesterase but also
increases acetylcholine, offering potential benefits in a wide range of
applications. This includes CFS and fibromyalgia since many CFS patients suffer
with cognitive difficulties similar to those of Alzheimer's patients.
Possible side effects of the herbal galantamine extract include nausea,
vomiting, and diarrhea which usually dissipate with a decrease in dosage. Slowly
working up to the desired dosage is recommended.
Use of cholinesterase inhibitors such as Aricept, Cognex, Exelon and Reminyl
can increase risk of stomach ulcers, and because prolonged use of non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin or ibuprofen can also cause
stomach ulcers, NSAIDS should not be used in combination with these medications
unless under a doctors supervision.