More than 90 clinical trials have assessed galantamine’s impact on Alzheimer’s disease, autism, arthritis, diabetes, and obesity, among others. In this article, we explore the science around galantamine and how it can improve your health.
What is Galantamine?
Galantamine is a nitrogen-containing compound that can be obtained synthetically or from the bulbs and flowers of the Caucasian snowdrop (Galanthus caucasicus), Voronov’s snowdrop (Galanthus caucasicus), Galanthus woronowii, Daffodil (Narcissus) and red spider lily (Lycoris radiata ) [1, 2, 3].
Galantamine has been used for decades in Eastern Europe and Russia for the treatment of muscular weakness (myopathy) and for sensory and motor dysfunction associated with disorders of the central nervous system .
Galantamine is commercially available as Nivalin, Razadyne, Razadyne ER, Reminyl, and Lycoremine, and is used in the treatment of mild cognitive impairment alone or in association with Alzheimer’s disease [5, 6, 7, 8].
- Potently boosts cognitive function
- Relieves symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
- Increases insulin sensitivity & normalizes blood sugar
- May improve symptoms in autistic children
- Reduces arthritic pain
- Effective in the treatment of obesity and metabolic syndrome
- Has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
- Can cause muscle cramps and weakness
- Can cause skin problems
- Can cause urinary incontinence
Benefits of Galantamine
1) Improves Cognitive Function
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition that involves a gradual loss of cognitive function over time. MCI sufferers often complain of memory failure. One study gave galantamine (4 mg twice per day) to sufferers of MCI for 7 days. Patients showed an increase in performance on memory tasks (episodic face-encoding and working memory tasks) .
Another similar study demonstrated that patients with MCI had improved episodic memory and reduced reaction times .
Cholinergic malfunction may cause memory impairment seen in MCI subjects, which is likely why galantamine (an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and modulator of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors) was so effective at improving brain function .
Galantamine is an effective treatment for common forms of dementia such as vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Many patients benefit from Galantamine therapy that is initiated early, soon after diagnosis, and continued for at least 1 year .
A key sign of Alzheimer’s disease is a decrease in hippocampal episodic memory function, due to the build-up of β-amyloid plaques which cause a break down of cholinergic signaling. Galantamine is a useful treatment for Alzheimer’s as it increases hippocampal (an area of the brain that is linked to learning and memory) function via improving cholinergic neurotransmitter function [9, 15].
Galantamine helps limit the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This effect was shown to persist for at least 36 months of galantamine treatment, suggesting that there is long term potential for galantamine’s use .
In fact, long-term Galantamine treatment may delay an individual’s placement in a nursing home.
Galantamine reduced the amount of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s disease, and also decreased the activity of astrocytes, a type of cell in the nervous system that forms “scars” in areas where neurons have been damaged .
Galantamine has been found to be just as effective as donepezil, a cognition-enhancing medication commonly used to treat Alzheimer’s disease .
Galantamine is far more cost-effective than conventional Alzheimer’s treatment with the usual cholinesterase inhibitors .
It should be noted that much of the research regarding galantamine and degenerative brain disorders have been done on rodents. One study showed that primates (our closer relatives) show the same cognitive benefits, but milder ones .
2) Reduces Inflammation
3) Is an Antioxidant
Galantamine is an antioxidant that can protect the cells from oxidative stress .
4) May Protect Against Toxins
In rats, galantamine protected against the effects of toxic poisoning (with diisopropylfluorophosphate) .
5) May Treat Diabetes
6) May Treat Obesity
7) Induces Lucid Dreaming
A lucid dream is a dream in which an individual is aware that they are dreaming and often has some control over their dreams.
8) May Alleviate Symptoms of Autism
Stimulation of the central nervous system’s (CNS) serotonergic subsystem (neurotransmitter system that regulates mood and cognitive functions) with Galantamine may enhance expressive language and communication in autistic adults .
More clinical trials are needed to study Galantamine therapy in autistic patients .
9) May Help Treat Schizophrenia
Galantamine improves the AMPA-mediated signaling pathway which could protect the brain and improve memory in schizophrenics .
10) Relieves Arthritis
Galantamine suppresses arthritic inflammation in rats with low testosterone. The appearance of dopamine in the spleen during Galantamine treatment may serve as a marker of its protective action under androgen-deficient conditions (most people over 40 are probably androgen-deficient) .
11) May Help You Quit Smoking
Alcoholics who took Galantamine on a daily basis smoked on fewer days and had less total cigarettes compared to patients who took a placebo. Even without taking other initiatives or intentions to reduce smoking, smoking behavior was reduced .
12) Protects Against Brain Trauma
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective treatment for psychotic patients who have not responded to drugs, but it causes cognitive impairment . One study found that Galantamine supplementation protected against a loss in learning abilities if given during and after treatment with ECT .
Rats injected with Galantamine prior to having an artificially induced stroke (low oxygen levels in the brain for 2 hours) were found to have less brain damage than rats that were not given Galantamine. Galantamine treated rats had lower levels of inflammatory IL-1B and microglial accumulation .
In patients with post-traumatic palsy, Galantamine accelerated the resolution of post-traumatic eye problems .
Galantamine and activation of nicotinic receptors lead to the release of endogenous cannabinoids such as anandamide .
Common side effects of Galantamine include muscle cramps and weakness, cardio-respiratory events, skin problems, and urinary incontinence. Taking high doses of Galantamine without building up slowly may also cause nightmares and anxiety .
In addition to these effects, Galantamine’s interaction with other drugs may cause health problems. It is advised to limit the usage of Galantamine when taking certain other medications that are metabolized via the same liver pathway (hepatic cytochrome system) .
Thankfully, most of the above side effects are rare and can probably be avoided with sensible dosing.
A good starting dosage is 4 mg, while 8 mg is closer to what I take.
Here are some good options for Galantamine supplements:
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