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Q. Aricept & Muscle Cramps
Lisa Ramey
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 1:03 PM
Joined: 6/20/2014
Posts: 160

Hey ya'll 


I tried Aricept a few month back. Started on 10mg The next morning I felt as bright as a bell and my mind was clear not foggy and Lord the energy I had. I felt like the patients in Awakenings the movie. 


Well 3 weeks into my trial I had all over muscle aches and yes 3 weeks of 

well... many trips to the restroom. 


So I tried Tonic water with Quinine, I tried Potassium as in K-Dur, tried magnesium, calcium I even had some left over 10mg Flexeril none of these things helped. 


I really want to go back to Aricept I did love it and it helped unlike stupid Namenda. 


So who knows how to beat cramps while on Aricept?  


I did study Magnesium and have since learned what type is best absorbed and what type has the laxative effect. I am also now on a vitamin/food/mineral supplement that I make into a shake and I no longer am craving sweets 

Lisa Ramey

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 1:15 PM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326

Hi, Lisa. So glad to hear you're no longer craving sweets. I, too, take magnesium. I had serious problems with Aricept, also. Fortunately, my doctor switched me to the Exelon Patch. It's more effective than Aricept because Aricept has to go through the stomach. With the Patch, it is absorbed through the skin into the blood system. 


Talk to your doctor. Doctors usually prescribe a combination of the Exelon Patch/Aricept or Namenda/Memantine.  

Iris L.
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 1:34 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18519

What dosage and what type of magnesium helps with not craving sweets?  I would like some!   


Mimi recommends a lactose free diet for gi upset from Aricept. 


I am on Exelon patch and Namenda--never had muscle cramps. 


Iris L 

Lisa Ramey
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 1:42 PM
Joined: 6/20/2014
Posts: 160



She did give me the E. Patch and I became so mean. Uh terrible just rude and become a smarty pants. Not me at all. 


Namenda just made me hurt all over. I hate that drug and the last drug the name I forget is just to expensive period so poor Aricept is left or nothing at all. 


My Dr. wants me to go to Emory University Hospital Here in Atlanta since I am unable to afford or take all the Dementia Drugs but that is out!! 


Emory is to far away, I have no one to go with me and besides there are only 4 drugs out now so what can they tell me that I do not get here in the suburbs? 


I feel all I would get is a bill I can not pay and a well good luck with that. Traffic at Emory is awful since the CDC and the Eboli unit all in close proximity. 

Lisa Ramey
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 3:38 PM
Joined: 6/20/2014
Posts: 160


How fortunate you are to have the ability to tolerate both of your meds.

 As for my Magnesium it is Magnesium Malate. Magnesium Citrate acts like a lax. and only a small portion is absorbed.

Thus sweet tooth was for chocolate which has ta da Magnesium.

So there you go. Hope it helps.

Lisa Ramey

Iris L.
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 7:22 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18519

Thanks for sharing about magnesium malate, Lisa.  I have a terrible sweet tooth, which I have read is common for people with Alzheimer's.  I don't know if it has anything to do with diabetes.  I didn't always have this sweet tooth.  In fact, I used to be a partaker of the Atkins diet, and ate very low in carbohydrates.

I hope you got the low dose of Exelon patch to begin with, 4.6mg, because you must plateau at one dose for a month or so, then advance.  I had anorexia for a few days, but that did not persist.

I hope Mimi sees your thread.  She has good advice on how to deal with the gastrointestinal complications of Aricept.

You can search for the side effects of Aricept and see if muscle cramps are a side effect.


Stephanie Z posted a website a while ago of pharmacy organization that answers questions for seniors regarding medications.  I'll see if I have that website.

One of the best features of this message board is learning how to search for answers to problems that the professionals that we pay good money to don't know the answer to.

Addendum:  I could not find the website link that Stephanie  Z referenced.  I'll send a post to her to read your thread, Lisa.

Iris L.

Stephanie Z
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 8:11 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 4217

Hi Lisa,

     Iris left a message for me on the caregiver forum about your post. I've copied my response to her and here it is:

    " The link you were looking for was to the American Association of Pharmacy Consultants. When I first posted it, they were offering to find a consultant for you in your area and would try to give you one whose expertise matched your needs. However, over the years our medical system has changed and every pharmacist is now pressured to be a consultant to their customers and will review meds and go over doses, side effects, cost, etc.

     This service is not the same as what the AAPC used to do. They had a list of what I would call "Super pharmacists" and were more helpful. Unfortunately, they no longer do this.

     I read your friend's post and she has gotten some good advice from others on the forum. The only thing I might add is that she should check back with her prescribing doctor."


 Lisa, I might see if he or she will be able to give you a pain killer to use until the side effects subside. Don't know if her or she will be willing to do this, or if pain killers might complicate the response to Aricept, but your physician would know.

Hope this helps.

Stephanie Z


Iris L.
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 8:44 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18519

Lisa, as Stephanie Z said, that service is no longer available.  But your local pharmacist should be able to tell you if muscle cramps are a known side effect of Aricept.  Also, check with your prescribing doctor.

I hope you will find relieve and help for your memory.  I know some patients did not tolerate Exelon or Aricept, but had a good response to galantamine, (Razadyne), another cholinesterase inhibitor.

Iris L

Posted: Thursday, December 18, 2014 7:09 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Sorry to hear of your difficulties with Aricept.  Perhaps there is something that can be added to Aricept to quell the side effects? I may be somewhat more of a smarty pants on Excelon patch but it may also be the lesser evil and I'll have to find a way to work around it and not get myself into too much trouble. I was not even aware of this smarty pants -ness side effect until you mentioned your experience. Best of luck to you Lisa.

Jo C.
Posted: Thursday, December 18, 2014 9:33 AM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 13612

Hello Lisa and everyone.  It is interesting in that about 8% or so of people who use Aricept develop muscle cramps.  Sometimes it is dosage related, so one can discuss this with their physician.


I am an RN whose mother and step-dad had different dementias.  I'd like to relay some information regarding Magnesium supplements.  PLEASE do NOT take this supplement (or any other supplement) without oversight of your physician AND ask him/her if it is safe for you to take this supplement before you start it, as it can interact with some prescription medications and also can have some untoward effects.


There is a definite dose level that should not be exceeded and Magnesium from food intake also counts.  The dose is different for adult males and adult females.  Do NOT give this supplement to children.


A partial notation of side effects can include:  increased confusion, decrease in blood pressure, decrease in heart rate, lowering the levels of other minerals including calcium, cardiac arrhythmias and cardiac arrest, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory paralysis and other effects.


Magnesium also can interact with prescription drugs.  This is another reason why one must not take this supplement (or any other) without supervision of one's physician.   Some of the drugs the supplement can interact with are, thyroid medications, calcium channel blockers (BP meds), some of the meds taken for diabetes, Lanoxin (Digoxin), Fosamax, diuretics, corticosteroids, decrease of other minerals and more.


One can find magnesium easily available in foods some of these are:  nuts, especially almonds; tofu; whole wheat products; legumes; chocolate (hurray); oatmeal; bananas; baked potatoes with skin, dark green and leafy green vegetables and more.


To get good absorption of magnesium, one must have adequate availability of B complex vitamins in the body.  Do NOT take B complex supplements without the prior approval of, and oversight of your physician.  These too can interact and have untoward effects if one is not cautious.


When taking supplements ALWAYS inform the doctor when he/she is assessing your meds, or when adding a new med, or when going to the ER or seeing a new healthcare provider.  Supplements ARE drugs within our body and none of them are totally innocuous.  Some will be fine, but be aware that you need to adhere to the most important maxim:  "First, do no harm."  You are your own most important advocate.



Lisa Ramey
Posted: Thursday, December 18, 2014 12:13 PM
Joined: 6/20/2014
Posts: 160

Dear JoC 

Thanks for all the advice and additional information. Great stuff.

Lisa Ramey

Posted: Monday, December 29, 2014 7:32 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

People who have success with Pharma Drugs are fortunate. 

I think it is of value to be aware of the dangerous side effects before starting a medication. Be mindful when one has dementia that sometimes a noxious side effect will likely be medicated OVER with another pill instead of realizing this is a bad reaction. 

  I dealt with this when my father had ALZ and had a bad reaction to a med so they UPPED the dose and added an anti psychotic! I thought "wait a minute" and looked up the side effects and explained this to my Mother who adamantly "trusted doctors" - I had to get a pharmacist to print out the danger and stop her from giving him those pills. He went back to normal after getting rid of that stuff. 


 Was not the last time a pharmacist saved me. My Mother had a stroke and was given 2 meds that when given together were known to cause death. Pharmacist refused to hand over the pills until I called the prescribing doctor who then said "Well, just give her the ______ then."


I am no medical professional but have suffered permanent damage from prescribed medications and am very sensitive to many drugs which is why I turn to alternatives when ever possible.  


It is now known people over 50 should be on lower dose of meds and women need even lower doses. However on Aricept 5 mg I had awful reactions as I did to Namenda and if I were not hyper vigilant about Pharma products I could have ended up in a psych ward. 


I use to check all prescribed meds before I take any thing. Doctors have given me stuff that interacted with Prozac and left me unconscious. Most doctors do not know about interactions with herbals or supplements. Please be cautious. 


If any of the following side effects occur while taking donepezil, check with your doctor or nurse as soon as possible: 

More common
  • Diarrhea 
  • loss of appetite 
  • muscle cramps 
  • nausea 
  • trouble in sleeping 
  • unusual tiredness or weakness 
  • vomiting 
Less common
  • Abnormal dreams 
  • constipation 
  • dizziness 
  • drowsiness 
  • fainting 
  • frequent urination 
  • headache  
  • joint pain, stiffness, or swelling 
  • mental depression 
  • pain  
  • unusual bleeding or bruising 
  • weight loss 
  • Black, tarry stools 
  • bloating 
  • bloody or cloudy urine 
  • blurred vision  
  • burning, prickling, or tingling sensations 
  • cataract 
  • chills 
  • clumsiness or unsteadiness 
  • confusion 
  • cough 
  • decreased urination 
  • difficult or painful urination 
  • dryness of mouth 
  • eye irritation 
  • fever 
  • flushing of skin 
  • frequent urge to urinate 
  • high or low blood pressure 
  • hives 
  • hot flashes 
  • increase in sexual desire or performance  
  • increased heart rate and breathing 
  • increased sweating 
  • increased urge to urinate during the night 
  • irregular heartbeat 
  • itching 
  • loss of bladder control 
  • loss of bowel control 
  • mood or mental changes, including abnormal crying, aggression, agitation, delusions, irritability, nervousness, or restlessness 
  • nasal congestion 
  • pain in chest, upper stomach, or throat 
  • problems with speech 
  • runny nose 
  • severe thirst 
  • shortness of breath 
  • sneezing 
  • sore throat 
  • sunken eyes 
  • tightness in chest 
  • tremor 
  • troubled breathing 
  • wheezing 
  • wrinkled skin 
Incidence not known
  • Back, leg, or stomach pains 
  • bleeding gums 
  • chest pain or discomfort 
  • coma 
  • convulsions 
  • dark urine 
  • difficulty breathing 
  • fast or irregular heartbeat 
  • fatigue 
  • general body swelling 
  • general tiredness and weakness 
  • high fever 
  • increased thirst 
  • indigestion 
  • light-colored stools 
  • muscle pain or cramps 
  • nausea and vomiting 
  • nosebleeds 
  • pains in stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back 
  • pale skin 
  • rash 
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there 
  • seizures 
  • severe muscle stiffness 
  • severe nausea 
  • slow or irregular heartbeat 
  • stomach pain 
  • sweating  
  • swelling of face, ankles, or hands 
  • tiredness 
  • unusually pale skin 
  • upper right abdominal or stomach pain 
  • yellow eyes and skin 
Symptoms of overdose
  • Convulsions (seizures) 
  • increased sweating 
  • increased watering of mouth 
  • increasing muscle weakness 
  • low blood pressure 
  • severe nausea 
  • severe vomiting 
  • slow heartbeat 

    As for NO OTHER MEDICINES AVAILABLE, some hate for me to repeat this but Cannabis is safe and effective at slowing ALZ and helping one focus, sleep, and be more active. Even so one must use it with caution. 


    as I said, anyone who does get help from the Dementia drugs is fortunate and I am happy for all of you who have benefitted for years on them - long past even the drug makers suggest they work. Wishing you all find help that suits you!

Posted: Monday, December 29, 2014 8:25 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408

As for NO OTHER MEDICINES AVAILABLE, some hate for me to repeat this

but Cannabis is safe and effective at slowing ALZ and helping one focus, sleep, and be more active.

There is still stigma relative to cannabis being a gateway drug. I more than likely will try cannabis when I stop working. It is a fact that medicinal use of cannabis is a monumental leap in medicine and will play a major and progressive role in the future for non-narcotic treatments of many if not all illnesses. Persons should be more concerned with the toxicity, addictions to, and deaths from opiate based pain medications which has reached epidemic proportions in the US.

Iris L.
Posted: Monday, December 29, 2014 12:47 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18519

 I have no muscle cramps or other side effects on Exelon patch and Namenda, and they are helping my memory. 


Medications help some, but not all, persons with memory loss.  Patients are different, and need different therapeutic approaches.  We can't disparage those of us people who rely on our pharmaceuticals. 


Iris L.





Posted: Monday, December 29, 2014 8:26 PM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326

I can tell a difference when I miss taking my meds.  Fortunately, I recover when I take my meds as directed.
Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014 8:44 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

Just remembered a nurse telling me to drink tons of water on Aricept to prevent side effects.


Hydration - levels can affect everything. The basics.

Posted: Saturday, January 10, 2015 6:09 AM
Joined: 11/20/2014
Posts: 1

Hello Lisa. I have just signed on to this ALZ message board and am new to all this. iI was disabled 4 years ago with non-operative degenerative spine and disc. About 6 months later everything was falling apart it seemed including cramps. I was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia and even more things were changing like on a roller coaster. I said all that to let you know what finally has helped. It took about a year and going thru many doctors but finally was given Aricept. I started on low dose and doubled it 2 months later because it was making a difference. To combat cramps, muscle aches, stiffness, and some days not even being able to do anything but sit in a soft recliner. I now take vitamins B2, B12, Potassium, Magnesium,and a prescription laxative to help with in that department. I also have a prescription of Clonazepam that helps stop the myoclonic jerking, speech problems and body shakes. These are from the Parkinson side of Lewy Body Dementia.  I have also started taking specific natural supplements from a USA manufacturer that have given a boost along side of the prescription drugs. I did a lot of research and found a A1 company that cares for people and back up their products because they work. Sorry for the long response but I did not know this outlet was available. When I was diagnosed doctors gave me a 3 to 8 year life span and I looked like they were giving me to much time. GOD, my great healer was and is in control. With HIS hand and the other items made possible by HIM, I have been able to return to a somewhat stable life like before they hit. I was 55 when these diseases hit and I thought it would be over in 3 years. By the Grace of my GOD I still fight everyday. Ecurb.
Posted: Sunday, January 11, 2015 3:45 PM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326

Ecrue, I see you joined us in November. I'm sure others have welcomed you, and want to add my welcome.
Iris L.
Posted: Sunday, January 11, 2015 8:39 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18519

 I, too, made a decision that I was going to fight dementia. Welcome to the fight zone, ecurb! 


Iris L.