Possible Galantamine Side Effects & Health Dangers
In the United States, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Galantamine for treating Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also used by a lot of people wanting to improve their memory, clarity of thought and overall cognitive function. This is an alkaloid extracted from the Galanthus flowers and plants, along with certain daffodils and the Red Spider Lily. Galantamine increases the levels in the brain of a particular neurotransmitter responsible for the formation of memories and their recall. This is a natural compound that is known for being safe if used as recommended. Precautions can be taken to limit any possible side effects.
History of Galantamine
Galantamine was originally discovered in the Soviet Union and research was conducted on it throughout the 1950s. This alkaloid was given to individuals suffering from memory impairment. What they found was that Galantamine inhibits acetylcholinesterase, a process in which an enzyme breaks down acetylcholine, a vital neurotransmitter in the brain. Dimitar Paskov, a scientist in Bulgaria, developed a method of extracting the alkaloid and producing Galantamine Hydrobromide in 1959.
Since then the drug has been widely prescribed in Russia as well as Eastern Europe for the treatment of myasthenia gravis, myopathy and other muscular and motor diseases. In the U.S. the FDA has approved Galantamine Hydrobromide as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Another common use of Galantamine is as a nootropic or cognitive enhancer. A nootropic is any kind of drug or supplement that has the ability to increase IQ or overall intelligence, learning, memory, concentration, focus and the clarity and speed of cognitive thought processes. Specifically, Galantamine is believed to increase neuroplasticity, which leads to an increase in memory function as well as the retention of both short-term and long-term memories.
Having low levels in the brain of acetylcholine is associated with certain types of cognitive impairment, decline and aging. Taking Galantamine seems to counteract this by increasing the levels of acetylcholine in the brain. What it does is alleviate some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but it cannot be considered a cure for these types of diseases. Additionally, this brain-boosting compound does act as a neuroprotective and can possibly treat adults with brain damage.
People seeking to perform to the best of their ability, like students and entrepreneurs take this supplement to improve their ability to focus and concentrate and generally work harder so they can be more productive. Boosting the levels of acetylcholine in the brain and stimulating the receptors can enhance executive brain functions like switching attention, focusing, blocking distractions and exercising self-control.
Many people using Galantamine report that they don’t feel as mentally stressed when they undertake demanding assignments and that they seem to generate ideas faster and mentally they seem to flow more easily from one thought to the next. Some reviews report that Galantamine helps them sleep better and even alleviates their insomnia.
Side Effects of Galantamine
There are a number of mild side effects linked with taking Galantamine orally. These are actually rare and not likely to occur if you use the drug as recommended and under the supervision of your physician or qualified medical professional. The risk of experiencing side effects does increase with higher dosages. Some symptoms may occur when you first start using Galantamine, but once your body adapts the symptoms usually disappear. Possible side effects are listed below:
• Burning, difficult or painful urination
• Cloudy or bloody urine
• Feeling discouraged, empty or sad
• Frequently feeling the urge to urinate
• Lack of enthusiasm
• Loss of appetite
• Lower back or side pain
• Painful bladder
• Trouble concentrating
• Uninterested in having fun or pleasure
• Weight loss
It’s obvious that many of these side effects stem from gastrointestinal problems, which commonly occurs when taking most acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.
Additional Safety Risks
Other less common side effects are:
• Abdominal pain
• High or low blood pressure
• Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
• Irregular or slow heartbeat (less than 50 beats a minute)
• Light-headedness, dizziness or fainting
• Pale looking skin
• Stuffy nose
• Troubled breathing when active
• Unusual bruising or bleeding
• Unusually drowsy, tired or weak
If you experience any of these side effects from taking Galantamine, you need to consult your physician or medical professional for advice. When using Galantamine under medical supervision you should not have any side effects and it’s very rare that someone would have a serious adverse reaction or outcome. But, people who have pre-existing heart conditions have been known to experience brachycardia or atrioventricular blockages from taking Galantamine. This is why it’s so important that you speak with your personal physician before you take it. They can check to see if you have some pre-existing health condition that would prohibit you from being a candidate for this drug.
If you do have side effects from taking Galantamine that continue to persist, you can always consider taking other acetylcholine-boosting supplements to increase cholinergic activity through different mechanisms. Some choose to use Huperzine A when Galantamine doesn’t agree with them. This is also a type of acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and is often used as an alternative. Other options might be choline supplements like, Centrophenoxine, CDP Choline (Citicoline) or Alpha GPC. All of these can supply your brain with additional the additional choline it needs to produce more acetylcholine, naturally raising the levels to improve your focus and memory function. It is always important to check with your physician first to determine if any of these options might better meet your needs if you’re experiencing side effects from Galantamine.