Sunday, July 8, 2012


The Side Effects of Memory Supplements

Jul 21, 2011 | By Charlotte Waterworth

Everybody loses their memory from time to time, forgetting where they put their car keys, an appointment or someone's name. Although being forgetful might simply be an indication that you have too much on your mind, memory loss is commonly associated with aging, and in some cases, with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Certain supplements, including vitamin B-12, ginkgo biloba and huperzine, might help to improve memory. However, they may also cause side effects. Get medical advice before using them.
Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest trees on the planet. Its leaves are used to prepare supplements which, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, are among the best-selling herbal remedies in the United States and Europe. Ginkgo is used to treat a number of conditions, including glaucoma and macular degeneration. It is also sometimes used to improve memory. Although side effects are unusual, they may include headaches, dizziness and gastrointestinal upset. Ginkgo might also increase the risk of bleeding.
Vitamin B-12

Water soluble vitamin B-12 plays an important role in nerve function, and is sometimes used to help prevent or treat conditions including cardiovascular disease and sleep disorders. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center notes that it has also been used to improve memory and learning, although evidence to prove it is effective is lacking. Vitamin B-12 is likely safe and nontoxic, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, and is unlikely to cause side effects.

Huperzine is an herbal supplement derived from a moss that grows in subtropical regions.It is most commonly used to treat bruising, muscle and tendon problems, and rheumatic conditions. However, it is also used to alleviate central nervous system disorders, including those characterized by memory loss, such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia. notes that huperzine may cause numerous side effects, including nausea, dizziness, constipation, insomnia and cardiac arrhythmia. Symptoms of huperzine toxicity may include drooling, muscle tremor and incontinence.

Other Considerations
In addition to side effects, memory loss supplements might also interact with other medicines you might be using, or may not be suitable you. For example, huperzine might heighten the effect of cholinesterase inhibitors, drugs used to treat Alzheimer's disease. Ginkgo is not safe for people with seizure disorders, and should not be used alongside drugs including anti-convulsant medicines and anti-coagulants, while vitamin B-12 might interact with the diabetes drug metformin, as well as tetracycline antibiotics. Get medical clearance before using any of these supplements.

Article reviewed by Bonny Brown Jones Last updated on: Jul 21, 2011


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