Many investigative drugs are said to be effective for treating symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but the research on most of these drugs is very limited, and that’s why they are not approved by the FDA.
Galantamine, on the other hand, is an FDA approved treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. This means it’s well studied and its efficacy and safety are very well documented. However, in addition to treating Alzheimer’s, the drug has also been linked to a number of other health benefits that have not been proved by clinical trials. For instance, a few trials show that it may be effective for diabetes, autism, obesity, inflammation, and oxidative stress. However, the quality of these trials is very questionable, and that’s why the FDA has only approved the drug for improving memory, learning, and awareness associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
In Russia and Europe, Galantamine was traditionally used as a remedy for myopathy or muscular weakness and sensory and motor dysfunction caused by central nervous system issues.
Galantamine is currently available under the brand names Razadyne, Razadyne ER, Reminyl, Lycoremine, and Nivalin.
Mechanism of Action
Galantamine is well-studied for its effects on Alzheimer’s disease. According to multiple studies, Galantamine works by preventing the actions of cholinesterase. This is an enzyme involved in the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Low acetylcholine levels have been linked to Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Therefore, by preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine, Galantamine makes sure that you have enough acetylcholine. Remember that this neurotransmitter is involved in memory, learning ability, and other cognitive functions. Therefore, Galantamine doesn’t just help to stop Alzheimer’s and dementia, but it will also improve the quality of life of the recovering patient by improving their cognition.
There have also been reports that since it reverses dementia by boosting cognitive functions, the drug could also be effective as a nootropic in healthy adults. There is not enough clinical data to support the claims, though.
Outside Alzheimer’s research, Galantamine is not extensively studied. Therefore, its mechanism of action in producing other effects is not well understood.
Uses and Benefits
- Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
Galantamine is an FDA-approved treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The drug is especially effective when used early, i.e., as soon as the condition is diagnosed, and it should be continued for more than 1 year. Continued treatment prevents cognitive decline and maintains a good quality of life. This means the patients will still be able to carry out most of their daily tasks independently. One study reported that treatment with Galantamine prevented cognitive decline for up to 3 years since the treatment was initiated. It even reduced the need for nursing home placement. Therefore, it’s best to get the diagnosis and therapy as soon as possible.
Galantamine’s impact on Alzheimer’s is not fully understood, but scientists believe it increases acetylcholine concentration by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter. It also improves cholinergic neurotransmitter functions and hippocampal activities. This is especially useful for maintaining a good memory.
Several studies also suggest that Galantamine prevents the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques. Long-term treatment with Galantamine is also known to improve neuronal connections.
Galantamine has been compared to other medications like donepezil. The data shows there isn’t much to separate the two. However, Galantamine is the more cost-effective treatment than most conventional cholinesterase inhibiting medications.
- Treating Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment is a condition characterized by memory failure and diminished cognitive functions. Studies show Galantamine improves working and episodic memory.
Galantamine may be effective for MCI due to its ability to improve cholinergic functions. It also boosts IGF-s levels in the brain, which encourages the growth of new brain cells.
- Boosting Antioxidant Protection
Oxidative stress has been linked to conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, Down’s Syndrome, and cancer. Galantamine provides antioxidant protection to fight oxidative stress caused by free radicals. It protects brain cells against oxidative damage to maintain optimal brain functions.
Galantamine works by protecting mitochondria and activating NRF2.
- Reducing Inflammation
Several studies report that it modifies visfatin, adiponectin, and NF-kB to produce anti-inflammatory effects. It also activates cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathways. This reduces overexposure to inflammation and may also block the production of cytokines.
Additional human trials are necessary to determine the effectiveness of Galantamine as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
Other purported uses of Galantamine include:
- Treating diabetes
- Treating obesity
- Fighting toxins
- Treating the symptoms of autism
- Combating schizophrenia
- Relieving symptoms of arthritis
Galantamine is generally safe and well-tolerated when used as prescribed.
In some cases, the drug can produce adverse reactions. Most of these are usually mild, e.g., nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, loss of appetite, weight loss, and headaches.
In rare cases, the drug induces severe adverse reactions like slowed heart rate, skin rash, stomach ulcers, seizures, trouble urinating, blurred vision, depression, confusion, and tremors. Stop using the drug and consult a physician right away if you experience any severe side effects.
Before using it , discuss your medical history with a medical practitioner. Make sure to point out any medications you could be using as well as your allergies.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are discouraged from using this drug.
The dosages vary depending on various factors. Your doctor will help you find the appropriate dosage for your unique situation. Make sure to stick to that dosage at all times.
In case you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s almost time for your next dose, do not double the dosage. Just skip the missed dose.