Brain In The News: Avoid These Two Medications At All Costs

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen weigh in on brain-related current events. This week’s “Brain in the News” items feature a link between the supplement ashwagandha and improved sleep and stress, two types of medication that are linked to dementia, a 9 year-old arsonist charged with first degree murder, a startling childhood obesity prediction, and a correlation of ADD/ADHD in teen moms.

Read Full Transcript

Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like Brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. In this podcast, we're going to do our weekly feature of Brain in the News. There's so many articles in the news every week related to the brain. But before we do, let's read a review. Do you want to read that one?
Tana Amen: Sure. "My husband has done 58 dives in a hard-side HBOT chamber," which is hyperbaric oxygen therapy. "It has changed his life and his brain, toxic burn pit exposure from Afghanistan and Iraq." Ouch. "We are fighting to fight to get this widely recognized by the VA." Awesome. "From Kiwi Kelly."
So I'm actually doing HBOT therapy right now as well. And so is your dad and so are a lot of our patients.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You want a better brain... If your brain is sleepy, hyperbaric oxygen can be really-
Tana Amen: Or if you've got a brain injury, right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... healthy. Right. And my dad's actually doing it because he had a challenge that just came from being older. I mean the older we got, the less blood flow there is to the brain.
All right. We have all sorts of studies. We'll probably only get to about four of them, but there's this new study on ashwagandha that it lowers stress and improves sleep. And interesting, we actually have ashwagandha in our Focus & Energy product. And focus and energy, people think, "Oh, it's like a caffeine drink." It's like, "No, it's got no caffeine, no sugar. It's got ashwagandha, rhodiola, ginseng, green tea and choline. And the reason that ashwagandha is there is it lowers stress but helps you focus at the same time.
So this study was actually done in India. A total of 60 participants were randomly divided into two groups, the ashwagandha group and the placebo group. And what they found in the ashwagandha group, significant improvement in sleep and anxiety and stress scores, and it was the same dose that we actually have in Focus & Energy.
Tana Amen: That's so interesting. So focus and energy, it gives you focus and energy, but helps you sleep.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Helps you sleep, and decreases your anxiety and stress.
Tana Amen: That's wild. Well, this one freaked me out. So this study that came from the University of Wash-... Oh wait, wait, wait, back up. Yeah, can we start over?
All right. Well, this one freaked me out. This study talks about two types of drugs you may want to avoid for the sake of your brain, benzodiazepines and anticholinergics. Well, benzos were obvious for a long time, at least to us.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And we've talked about it. So benzos are medications like Xanax or the generic is alprazolam, Ativan, Valium. And I stopped prescribing them because there was research that came out that showed there was a higher incidence of dementia, just what this study is showing, and I didn't like how they looked on scans.
Tana Amen: Right. But the one that really freaked me out was the anticholinergics, because we'll talk about why in a second. But this is from the University of Washington. They studied 3,500 people and they took people 65 and over, and over a 10 year period, looked at all the drugs they had taken during that time. During the study, 800 of them developed dementia. What they found was benzodiazepines and anticholinergics were involved, and they could increase your risk of dementia by 54%.
So anticholinergics, let's talk about what those are because they've been touted as sort of the safe sleeping pill, right? So Benadryl, Advil PM, right? They've got anticholinergics in them to help you get sleepy. We used to give it in the hospital when we didn't want to give sleeping pills. Like if we traveled to a different times zone and, I had to be up early to be on TV with you or something, I would take Advil PM because I thought, "Oh well that safe." I rarely take it, but I would take it now and then.
And then what happened is after surgery, I started not sleeping as well after I had anesthesia, wasn't doing as well. And when you travel, when you would come home, you tend to snore the night after you get back. I have no idea why. But when he travels, he's on planes, he snores when you get back. And so when he would snore, I would get up and take Benadryl. And when I was-
Dr. Daniel Amen: So you're saying I was ruining your brain?
Tana Amen: Yes, yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It was my fault?
Tana Amen: Yeah, well, now that I know I'm not going to let you ruin my brain, so we'll figure out another solution. But my point being the anticholinergics that I thought were fairly safe for sleep are not safe for sleep. So now I'm going back to my very natural ways, which I've got a whole criteria of ways that I sleep. So I've got a whole list of things I do with my thyroid condition. But that is not a safe way to sleep, and it increases your risk of dementia by 54%, are you kidding me? Now that's for regular use. But when I saw my scan and saw that it was sleepier than usual, between the anesthesia, I'm pretty sure the anticholinergics didn't help. So, yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Wow.
Tana Amen: Scary.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, this is an article that'll just make you cry. Nine-year-old arsonist charged with first degree murder in mobile home fire that killed five relatives, including three toddlers, as mother insists he's not a monster and just made a mistake. So the mother of a nine-year-old boy from Illinois, who's been charged with murder in connection to a deadly arson fire that killed most of his immediate family, has spoken out for the first time saying that the child suffers from mental illness and is not a monster. Katrina Alwood appeared on CBS This Morning, two days after her sole-surviving child, Kyle, was charged with five counts of first degree murder.
He'd been identified as having mental health challenges. Did you know that it is 11 years between the time a child first has their symptoms, it's 11 years between that time and the time they're actually diagnosed and get help.
Tana Amen: But he was diagnosed.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And the mother said, "Everyone is looking at him as if he's some kind of monster." And people make this mistake all the time. It's a horrible tragedy, no question. But-
Tana Amen: But he was diagnosed. Was he being treated?
Dr. Daniel Amen: I don't know. The article doesn't say that, but to bring criminal charges is just a bit insane. Now, you have to understand it. You have to protect other people around him.
Tana Amen: Yeah, this is a tricky one.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That you have to understand and protect him. And my passion story is about-
Tana Amen: Is Andrew.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... my nine-year-old nephew who attacked a little girl on the baseball field for no reason.
Tana Amen: And he had a cyst.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And he had a cyst the size of a golf ball, occupying-
Tana Amen: That's why I said this is tricky.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... the space of his left temporal lobe. Or Jared, a story that we talk about-
Tana Amen: Who I just saw.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... a lot, who had rages as a young person, and had been put on multiple medications. It only made the rages worse, who had a pattern in his brain called the ring of fire. That when you look at people who do bad things, not always, but often, they have a troubled brain that if known could be fixed.
Tana Amen: Yeah, so I would want to know more about the diagnosed mental illness on this one. See we talked about the can of worms about how drugs can change your personality in our previous podcast this week, and this is the slippery slope.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, actually, the mom said on TV that the boy had recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ADHD. So he was probably hearing voices, delusional-
Tana Amen: Then we have a responsibility too.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... terrible mood swings. And of course, I'm sure no one looked at his brain to know... Because anytime you get those diagnoses and-
Tana Amen: Especially at nine.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... condemnation at nine years old, something's severely wrong with that child's brain. And the current-day prescriptions are this medicine, that medicine-
Tana Amen: See, that's what I want to know.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... without really trying to under to understand.
Tana Amen: Yeah. Scary. Okay, so more than 250 million children and teenagers will be obese by 2030. That's really scary. Even in China, which they've never really had an obesity issue in the past, is expected to have 61.9 million obese, 5 to 19 year olds. This is just crazy. This is 34.5 million more than India, which is second place at 27.4. The U S is third with 16.9 million youth. The UK comes in 36th with 1.3.
This pandemic will overwhelm health services, with many countries being unable to cope with the demand of diabetes, drugs and weight loss surgery. The increase shows a critical failure of government to respect and protect.
I want to read that again. This is increased shows a critical failure of government to respect and protect our children's rights to good health, but I want to go further than that. They won't even do the basic things like labeling food properly. That's what irritates me. Don't label things as health food that aren't health food, and label them correctly about what the risks are. At least, at the very least, educate people. Don't just allow them to sell vape pens and foods and things like that that you know are terrible for you.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's a war.
Tana Amen: It's a war.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I mean, that's-
Tana Amen: That's why we talk about-
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... sort of why we do the Brain Warrior's Way podcast when that number of children will be obese.
Tana Amen: it makes me wonder if the agenda is to keep people sick, fat and depressed, so you just have more control. It's bizarre. I know it's a conspiracy theory, but it's my theory.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I think it's ignorance.
Tana Amen: Well, I do too but...
Dr. Daniel Amen: Okay. From JAMA there's an association of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with teenage birth among girls and women in Sweden.
Tana Amen: Yeah, that makes sense.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So what it says-
Tana Amen: Because they're impulsive.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... So people go why is ADD or ADHD increasing in the population? If you take a hundred years, an ADD family will have five generations and more children per generation-
Tana Amen: They're more impulsive.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... where a non-ADD family will only have four generations. And-
Tana Amen: So they're getting pregnant earlier.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... So on average women have their first baby at the age of 26. But on average, if a girl has ADD or ADHD, she has her first baby at the age of 20 because of the impulsivity that often-
Tana Amen: So there's a whole nother generation involved.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... goes along with it and so that all by itself... So an ADD girl's likely to get pregnant earlier and have more babies, where non-ADD girl or woman is going to have her babies later and fewer of them. And when they were treated with medication, they had decreased pregnancy.
Tana Amen: That makes sense.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So because the medication actually helped them be less impulsive. I just thought that was really interesting.
Tana Amen: Well, if you look at the difference between, like I've got two friends, one clearly has ADD from [inaudible 00:13:16] and one does not. The one planned out her family and went, "How many kids can I afford? When can I afford to start?" The other one was like, "What difference does that make? Like you'll figure it out," and just started popping out babies. It's very different how they think, and so yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Wow. All right. What one thing did you learn during Brain in the News, powerful articles posted on any of your social media sites. #BrainWarriorsWayPodcast, also leave us a review at Brain Warrior's Way podcast or on Apple Podcast, or leave us a question or a comment. And when you do, we'll enter you into a raffle to get Tana's amazing cookbook, The Brain Warrior's Way Cookbook. Stay with us. We're going to answer your questions next.
Tana Amen: If you are enjoying the Brain Warrior's Way podcast, please don't forget to subscribe, so you'll always know when there's a new episode. And while you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at or a 10% discount on all supplements at For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.