I have been taking Ditropan for numerous years for my overactive bladder.
Q. Hello Terry, “I have been taking Ditropan for numerous years for my overactive bladder. I started noticing some changes in my memory that my doctor attributed to aging. However, I did some research and found that the type of medication I am on can cause memory loss, what are your thoughts? — Kelly F., Norfolk, VA.
A. Dear Kelly, To answer your question, I have to get a bit technical, but please bear with me! The class of drugs that Ditropan belongs to is called anticholinergics. When we break the word down, anti – meaning against, and cholinergic – referring to choline, a water-soluble nutrient that is usually grouped with the B vitamins. Basically, anticholinergics block the production of acetylcholine (a form of choline) in the brain, which can translate into memory loss, attention deficits, and slower motor skills.
Overactive bladder drugs aren’t the only kind of anticholinergics, many commonly used prescriptions for allergies, like diphenhydramine (one brand name is Benadryl), also block acetylcholine. Other medications that are anticholinergic include Metformin (for blood sugar control), Dramamine (for motion sickness), Quinidex (an antiarrhythmia drug), and many others.
In a scientific study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that individuals taking anticholinergic drugs for three years or more increased the risk of dementia by 54%. Other previous research has found similar results for brain function. Older adults taking at least 3 doses of an anticholinergic drug for more than three months increased their risk of cognitive impairment by 50%.
I don’t encourage you to stop taking your medication and please discuss any supplement usage with your primary healthcare physician. That being said, I do believe it is important to replenish your supply of choline. I recommend taking choline, as choline bitartrate, but also in combination with other B vitamins like B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, and folate. I think it is important to supplement with these B-vitamins in their human form, for instance B6 as pyridoxal-5-phosphate, B12 as methycobalamin, and folate as methylfolate. Experts estimate that 30-50% of the population has a difficult time converting B vitamins into their human and biologically active form.
I would take 144 mg of choline three times per day, along with the other B vitamins.
Additionally, for bladder support you may want to consider Angelica archangelica. Also called “Angel’s Herb”, this beautiful plant grows all over Iceland. This is the single most efficacious bladder product I have ever encountered. A special standardization of this herb may help both men and women with overactive bladder, frequent night time awakenings to empty the bladder, bladder spasms and inflammation, urinary incontinence, stress incontinence, and adult bed-wetting.
I would take 100 mg twice per day for the first two or three days, and then you can try once per day after that. If you experience more incontinence issues in the evening, I would take it before bed and vice versa if your issues are generally in the morning and throughout the day.
Terry . . . Naturally