Alternative Treatment Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease
A look at complementary treatments for Alzheimer's disease. Nutritional supplements, herbal medicine for Alzheimer's and the Alzheimer's diet.
Some people with Alzheimer's use alternative treatments-such as herbal remedies and natural dietary supplements-- though there is scant scientific evidence of their benefits. If you're considering any alternative treatments or want to advise a friend or loved one with Alzheimer's Disease on alternatives, it's a good idea to discuss your interest with a health care professional.
Here are some non-medication options for helping the patient with Alzheimer's Disease:
Treatment Strategy for Alzheimers
- Identify and address suspected underlying causes of Alzheimers.
- Use of dietary and nutritional strategies to improve cognitive function.
- Use of antioxidants to decrease oxidative damage.
Lifestyle for Alzheimers
- Use the mind: get adequate mental exercise.
- Institute a program of daily exercise which improves overall circulation and well-being.
- Stress management. Learn and utilize better coping skills.
- Avoidance of all known sources of aluminum including aluminum-containing antacids, aluminum-containing anti-perspirants, cooking in aluminum pots and pans, wrapping food with aluminum foil, and non-dairy creamers. Aluminum is also found in baking powder and table salt, as it is added to keep them from becoming lumpy.
Change the mood of the patient's home environment: he lighting in a house or apartment, colors in the decor and level of noise in the immediate living area can have a significant impact on how someone with AD behaves and feels. Researchers have found that certain types of lighting can make some people feel uneasy, while higher noise levels can induce frustration among others.
Create a routine and stay active: constructing a routine for everyday activities-including the basics such as dressing, bathing and cooking-can reduce depression and help keep a person with AD active longer. It may also reduce the chances of wandering because it is more likely the person will follow the daily routine of activities. Alzheimer's experts also recommend patients take up creative and pleasing activities that can bring more happiness into life, such as painting, reading or singing.
- Consume a diet rich in antioxidants with an emphasis on whole fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Regularly consume of cold-water fish to increase essential fatty acid (EFA) levels. EFAs are fatty acids (also known as Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids) which are essential to life, but which cannot be produced in the body and must be taken in through diet.
- A diet rich in magnesium is recommended. Aluminum absorption can be decreased by magnesium, because magnesium competes with aluminum for absorption, not only in the intestines but also at the blood-brain barrier. Focus on unprocessed foods, avoid milk and dairy products, and increase the consumption of vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds - all good sources of magnesium.
Nutritional Supplements for Alzheimers
Following is a comprehensive list of supplements that have been studied in the treatment of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. No person should take all of these supplements. It is essential to consult a physician trained in nutritional and botanical medicine to determine which supplements are most indicated and will be most effective for you, given your individual situation. They must also ascertain safe and effective doses for their use. Further, several of these supplements may interact with medications and should not be taken without medical supervision.
- High potency multiple vitamin and mineral supplement.
- Omega 3 fatty acids. Dietary intake of n-3 fatty acids and weekly consumption of fish may reduce the risk of Alzheimer disease.
- Vitamin E. In a prospective study, dietary vitamin E intake was associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's.
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C intake has been shown to decrease risk of AD.
- DHEA. DHEA administration may result in modest improvements in cognition and behavior.
- Taurine. In animal models supplementation increased acetylcholine levels in brain tissue.
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC). Effective in improving cognitive performance in patients suffering from Alzheimer's dementia.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS). Low levels of phosphatidylserine in the brain are associated with impaired mental function and depression in the elderly. Supplementation with PS consistently benefits memory, learning, concentration, word choice, and other measurable cognition parameters, as well as mood and the capacity to cope with stress. PS somehow encourages the regrowth of damaged nerve networks.
- Inositol. Supplementation with inositol may produce positive CNS effects in the treatment of AD.
- Thiamine has been shown to potentiate and mimic the effects of acetylcholine in the brain. High dose thiamine supplementation improves mental function in Alzheimer's disease and age-related impaired mental function (senility) without side-effects.
- Vitamin B12. Serum vitamin B12 levels are significantly low, and vitamin B12 deficiency is significantly common in Alzheimer's disease patients. Supplementation of B12 and/or folic acid may result in complete reversal in some patients (with documented low B12 levels), but generally there is little improvement in patients who have had Alzheimer's symptoms for greater than 6 months.
- Zinc. Zinc deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the elderly and has been suggested to be a major factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Zinc supplementation has good benefits in Alzheimer's disease.
- Coenzyme Q 10. Improves mitochondrial energy production.
Botanical (Herbal) Medicine for Alzheimers
- Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE). Improves circulation which can enhance memory and delay onset of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
- Huperzine A. Derived from Hyperzia serrata (Club Moss). Acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, possibly more effectively than tacrine. Supplementation produced measurable improvements in memory, cognitive function, and behavioral factors in Alzheimer's patients with no significant side effects.
- Vinpocetine. Derived from Vinca minor (Periwinkle). Enhances brain circulation and oxygen utilization and other neuroprotective and anti-ischemic effects.
- Bacopa monnieri (Water hyssop, Brahmi). Enhances nerve impulse transmission and strengthens memory and cognition.
Supplement Quality Is Important
Nutritional and botanical supplements used in these treatments are intended to have a physiological effect and clinical benefit, i.e., they are effective and your health improves. The quality of nutritional supplements in the general marketplace is suspect. In order to get the maximum benefit to your health, be sure you purchase the highest quality nutritional supplements.
Source: Alzheimer's Association
Staff, H. (2008, October 15). Alternative Treatment Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/alternative-mental-health/alzheimers/alternative-treatment-strategy-for-alzheimers-disease