neurotransmitter

  1. Nicotine may slow cognitive decline

    Could nicotine possibly be good for you?

    Short answer: Yes... sort of, and a new study shows again how the most addictive ingredient in cigarettes could help boost the brain.

    But don't start smoking -- because trust me, any "benefits" of nicotine are far outweighed by the risks.

    In the new study, researchers didn't even look at smokers. They recruited 67 non-smokers with mild cognitive impairment, one of the earliest warning signs of dementia, and assigned them to wear either a nicotine patch or a placebo patch.

    After six months, those who had the real patch did a little better on cognitive tests than those who got the placebo -- and didn't show any signs of side effects or even addiction.

    It's not too surprising, since nicotine is known to mimic a common neurotransmitter that often goes missing in people with dementia and other cognitive disorders.

    It does such a good job of it, in fact, that it pretty much behaves exactly like that neurotransmitter once it's in the brain -- and it's one of the reasons smokers get a quick boost in concentration after they light up.

    These brain-boosting benefits are among the reasons Big Pharma has been hard at work on a nicotine pill -- not to help smokers quit, but to bring the supposed benefits of nicotine to nonsmokers.

    But no matter how they try to sell you that nicotine, whether it's in a pill, patch or pipe, it's just not worth it -- because there are far better and more effective ways to boost your brainpower and slash your risk of dementia.

    Start with the ordinary B vitamins you can get from any vitamin shop. One recent groundbreaking study found that seniors who were given a blend of B6, B12 and folate did 70 percent better on memory tests than seniors who took a placebo.

    In fact, seniors who took the supplement improved by just about every measure, with boosts in episodic memory, semantic memory and overall global cognition. They even had lower levels of homocysteine, an inflammation marker linked to dementia, heart disease and more.

    And along with memory, B vitamins can help with everything from mood to muscle.

    With benefits like that, why mess around with nicotine?

  2. Deadly warning over common meds

    Pharmaceutical drugs are supposed to help you... not hurt you. Yet every time I turn around, there's ANOTHER report about ANOTHER way these meds can kill you. Here's the latest.

    A certain combination of drugs can increase your risk of death. The drugs in this case cut across all classes and categories and include everything from painkillers to antidepressants to antihistamines. But they do have one thing in common: They block acetylcholine, a major neurotransmitter.

    British researchers rated 80 meds based on this neurotransmitter-blocking effect, giving one point to drugs with the mildest effects, two for moderate, and three for the most severe. After examining data on more than 13,000 seniors, they found that higher total point combinations led to a dramatically higher risk of death.

    Seniors with a combined four points – a severe drug and a mild one, for example -- had a 20 percent chance of death in two years, even after adjusting for disease and other risk factors.

    Seniors who took no meds, on the other hand, faced only a 7 percent risk of death in that time.

    Bad enough if it ended there -- but it didn't.

    Each point beyond the first four boosted the death risk by another 25 percent.

    Of course, even if the drugs don't kill YOU, they could still be killing your brain.

    Patients with a combined score of five or more also suffered a four-percent drop in brain function. No surprise there. After all, low acetylcholine levels have been linked to cognitive decline and dementia before. I can't help but wonder how many seniors who suffer from the condition would be cured if they just got off these meds...

    Don't be another nameless victim in Big Pharma's drug war. Starting today, figure out the anticholinergic load of your own meds and work with your doctor to get off as many of them as possible -- or at least switch to drugs that don't all have the same effect on your brain.

    Better yet, work with a naturopathic physician who can get you off your meds completely, and you won't just lower your death risk -- you'll raise your quality of life.

  3. Common drugs aren't necessarily safer

    A study finds that a common ingredient in many OTC meds can harm the brains of seniors.

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