What Do Namenda Side Effects
Have to do with Aspartame?

Namenda, also called Memantine, is an Alzheimer’s drug. This page is much more than a discussion of Namenda Side effects, but will provide interesting information about the relationship and the science behind Namenda and how it relates to problems from Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. Even if you’d never heard of Namenda, if you consume artificial sweeteners and/or you have Alzheimer's Disease or any other neurologic problems, then you’ll find this page VERY interesting.

Memantine is a drug developed fairly recently for the treatment of Alzheimers disease. Namenda works by blocking a receptor in the brain known as NDMA, hence the name ‘Namenda’ that sounds like NDMA pronounced as a word. Technically it's known as an ‘uncompetitive N-methyl-d-aspartate antagonist’. The NDMA receptor is a target receptor for a substance called Glutamate, which occurs in artificial sweeteners, MSG, as well as some foods. Notice that the drug is an ‘aspartate agonist’; the similarity to the word ‘Aspartame’ is not a coincidence, but exists because of Aspartame’s relationship to aspartate. 

“Memantine was well tolerated with a frequency of adverse
events comparable to placebo.”
Efficacy and Safety of Memantine in Patients
with Mild to Moderate Vascular Dementia

Why Does Namenda Work?

Why Namenda works is a bit of an indictment against the use of artificial sweeteners. While many studies show that artificial sweeteners are completely benign, such as the articles that I outline in the Side Effects of Aspartame page, the studies on Namenda seem to tell a different story. In the article linked above, the Efficacy and safety of Memantine… the explanation of why Namenda works should make you wonder whether the claims of the safety of Aspartame really ARE true; they state, “Based on the hypothesis of glutamate-induced neurotoxicity (excitotoxicity) in cerebral ischemia,”. Another study entitled Neuroprotective and Symptomatological Action of Memantine Relevant for Alzheimer’s Disease says, “The hypothesis that glutamate-mediated neurotoxicity is involved in the pathogenesis of [Alzheimer’s Disease] is finding increasingly more acceptance in the scientific community.”

Hmm, a hypothesis that there is glutamate induced neurotoxicity? That sounds remarkably like the hypothesis of neurologist Dr. Russell Blaylock, the author of a book outlining his case against artificial sweeteners entitled, “Excitotoxins, the Taste that Kills”. Ironically, most ‘traditional’ medicine doctors consider Dr. Blaylock a ‘quack doctor’ for his position on excitotoxins being neurotoxic, but those same doctors are prescribing drugs based on a theory from a doctor they consider a quack!

Side Effects of Namenda

All in all, Namenda side effects seem very mild, being comparable to placebo in most cases. A large metanalysis of the studies on Namenda to date show that almost no patients dropped out of any studies due to side effects of the drug. Considering that this study compared 8 different studies, that shows that the Namenda Side Effects seem pretty rare.

While this sounds great, Namenda is still a drug, and a new drug that has not had a long period of time to show it's safety profile. There are many other natural substances that are NMDA antagonists as well. An essential substance in the body called pyrroloquinoline quinone, and also known as PQQ, is an NMDA antagonist that also has the benefit of improving mitochondrial function and acting as an antioxidant. Since PQQ is a substance that occurs naturally in the body, it makes more sense to take a natural substance over a drug if they have similar actions. Additionally, while this sounds a bit crazy, a specific type of diet, called the Ketogenic Diet, has been shown to be effective in improving symptoms of Alzheimer's significantly. And the Ketogenic diet has been safely used by millions, including hundreds of thousands of children, for almost 100 years completely safely.

Research on Namenda Side Effects

  1. Efficacy and adverse effects of cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine in vascular dementia: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
  2. Interaction of the putative essential nutrient pyrroloquinoline quinone with the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor redox modulatory site
  3. Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet
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