Q Dear Dr. V,
I am interested in giving galantamine to my 83 year old father. He is losing his memory somewhat. I wonder if he is in early stages of Alzheimer's. Since he is sensitive to a lot of foods and galantamine is a dietary or food supplement, what side effects might he expect?


A Dear OF,
Studies show the side effects of galantamine to be infrequent and of minor consequence. The primary things to watch for are stomach or gastrointestinal upset, nausea, headache, dizziness, weight loss, and loss of appetite even though these are not usually of significance.1

Since your father has sensitivities, I suggest he go slowly. Start with less than the maximum recommended amount and build up to the recommended amount or an amount that can be comfortably tolerated. This should be based on how he feels. Even for individuals who may experience some of these side effects, studies show after one has taken galantamine for a longer time period, they will subside.2 As a rule of thumb, it is probably prudent for most people to start with small amounts of supplements and build up. Studies have backed this up as well.

Good luck,

Dr. V


  1. Wilcock GK, Lilienfeld S, Gaens E. Efficacy and safety of galantamine in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: multicentre randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2000 Dec 9;321(7274):1445-9.
  2. Lilienfeld S, Parys W. Galantamine: additional benefits to patients with Alzheimer's disease. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2000 Sep;11 Suppl 1:19-27.

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