Alzheimer’s Disease Natural Treatment
Dementia is a form of brain deterioration that causes memory loss, disorientation and confusion and eventually has a negative impact on an individual’s ability to carry out normal activities. Individuals with dementia also display behavioural changes and emotional symptoms.
Approximately 50-80% of dementia cases are considered to be Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), and together they account for the almost 300,000 individuals living with it in Australia. The earliest warning sign to look out for is changes to memory, particularly short term memory.
Symptoms of AD usually develop slowly and worsen over time. Some individuals can get early onset dementia – which starts in the 40s and 50s, but most cases occur in adults over 65 years old. By 85 years, around 20-50% of people suffer from AD and dementia. Dementia is not a normal sign of ageing, and while the causes are not well understood, it is thought to be linked to genetic changes and lifestyle factors. A history of head trauma and poor heart and vascular health, including diabetes, are also risk factors for developing brain disorders. Dementia symptoms occur when parts of the brain start to starve and they shrink or die. The Ohio State University developed a simple test to measure thinking abilities, called SAGE, which can detect early signs of memory loss or a decline in cognitive capacity. This self administered test is available on their website here.
There are no cures for AD and dementia, but some medications exist for various aspects of the disease, such as treating the sleep, mood or behavioural changes. By far the best aim is in prevention. While you cannot do a lot to change your genes, we know that detrimental genetic changes may be more common with poor lifestyle choices. A healthy lifestyle that is good for the whole body will potentially reduce your risk of developing dementia or may delay the onset of dementia symptoms. Smoking and high alcohol consumption have been linked to AD.
The old adage, “if you don’t use it, you lose it” is very relevant for the brain. It is recommended that you keep your brain active and give it a daily workout, much as we would exercise our body. Brain workouts can help to build brain cells and neural connections between the cells, which in turn keeps your brain and mind sharp and efficient. Cross words, Sudoku and puzzles are all examples of brain gym.
Nutrients that have been shown to be useful in preventing or treating dementia include vitamin E, vitamin C, CoQ10, coconut oil and omega 3 fish oils. Having around 2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day was shown to have a favourable impact on prevention and early treatment of AD and dementia.
Herbs such as Gingko have been shown to be a beneficial treatment, but efficacy depends on starting the treatment early, and not waiting until symptoms are severe. Some of the studies with Gingko failed to find positive results, however they did not start early enough. Heavy metals that affect nervous tissue, such as lead, aluminium and mercury may have a negative impact on brain function and should be avoided. In relation to aluminium, the jury is still out, but I normally encourage people to minimise exposure to aluminium by avoiding aluminium cooking utensils and deodorants.
In conclusion, it is a good idea to adopt healthy diet and lifestyle choices and keep your body and brain active. Be on the lookout for early changes with memory and forgetfulness in yourself or your loved ones, and consider natural remedies if warranted.
For more information visit the Alzheimer’s Australia website