By Hwaa Irfan
I suppose there are a few of us right now who would not mind if their brain could stop working due to having overactive minds. Always thinking about something that always seems to be important to one’s self and nobody else – because “no one” seems to take it just as seriously as you do! But having respite from thinking is something that naturally one would prefer to have under one’s own control, and not as a side effect of a drug taken for something else entirely different – so one is led to believe.
Anticholinergics are the drugs in question here, which one can buy easily over the counter. Anticholinergics are a group of drugs that prevents the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine from working. A neurotransmitter can be in the form of a mineral or a hormone.
Neurotransmitters are essential for the passing on of information required by the body from one nerve/neuron, to another nerve/neuron.
Acetylcholine is a naturally occurring hormone in one’s body, which like all hormones acts as an essential biological messenger that functions throughout one’s body physical.
Acetylcholine is important for passing on needed information to the large skeletal muscles so that they will receive the message to contract. This neurotransmitter is also important to the functioning of the heart muscle and all involuntary functions beyond our direct control like those functions that fall under the jurisdiction of the autonomic nervous system, e.g. digestion; and it is also responsible for stimulating the nerves related to memory. Anticholinergics prevent the neurotransmitter responsible for what has been described from functioning, and it is also capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier affecting the central nervous system.
One might be taking an anticholinergic to relieve the side effects of other prescribed drugs including antipsychotics/neuroleptics as used in the treatment of certain mental health dis-ease, and movement disorders. Anticholinergics can also be found in sleeping pills, sedatives, anti-inflammatories, and blood thinners.
– Atropine, scopolamine, glycopyrrolate, benztropine, trihexyphenidyl.
Anticholinergics can be found in:
- Antipsychotics like:
- Cyclic antidepressants like:
They can also be found in nature as well, but not to the level of concentration present in man-made drugs, in foods and herbs like:
- Amanita pantherina (panther mushroom)
- Arctium lappa (burdock root)
- Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade)
- Cestrum nocturnum (night blooming jessamine)
- Datura suaveolens (angel’s trumpet)
- Datura stramonium (jimson weed)
- Hyoscyamus niger (black henbane)
- Lantana camara (red sage)
- Solanum carolinensis (wild tomato)
- Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet)
- Solanum pseudocapsicum (Jerusalem cherry)
- Solanum tuberosum (potato)
One might not recognize the above names as the brand name differs. The brand names include:
Benadryl – Disipal – Cogentin – Dramamine – Excedrin PM – Kemadrin – Nytol – Sominex -Tylenol PM – Unisom – Paxil – Detrol – Demerol – Elavil.
One might have the following symptoms, which varies according to one’s physiological, emotional and mental sensibilities:
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Urine retention
If the above symptoms occur, one should stop taking the drug with the support of a reputable medical practitioner. This is not the end of it, because if one continues taking drugs over a long period of time that contain anticholinergics then Anticholinergic Syndrome develops. This takes the form of having a negative impact on one’s ability to:
- Language skills
- Ability to recall and narrate the recollection
- Ability to remember habits
In the U.S. the AAPCC National Poison Data System Annual Report recorded 8,582 cases of overexposure to anticholinergics. Five deaths occurred related toxicity from antihistamines. The symptoms of a severe reaction include:
- Respiratory failure
- Cardiovascular collapse
The United Kingdom Psychiatric Pharmacy Group recommend that those who have glaucoma, or have problems with their liver, heart, stomach, kidneys, or prostrate, and those who wish to become pregnant, who are pregnant, and are breastfeeding should avoid taking anticholinergic drugs.
One has a right to question the medication and/or treatment one is under through a medical practitioner; after all you are the recipient of that medication, not the doctor. If one is not happy with the medication and/or treatment, first try to get the doctor concerned to explain the reasoning behind the medication and/or treatment until one feels adequately informed, and then go away and make an informed decision – even get a second/third etc., opinion, and then if one wishes to stop taking that particular medication and/or treatment, ask for an alternative or seek a suitable, and reputable alternative! There is such a thing as Iatrogenic Illness, which is an illness induced by the medication and/or treatment that one is placed under by a medical practitioner, so speak up or take someone along with you who is conversant with what you know about your condition, and what you may have discovered, so that they can speak on your behalf!
Bruns, J. J. “Toxicity, Anticholinergic”. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/812644-overview