Alternative Treatments for Dementia
Many patients find that alternative and complimentary medicine
helps ease their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. However,
many alternative therapies have not been fully studied. So, before trying any
alternative treatment for dementia, talk to your doctor. Some vitamin and
herbal supplements may interact with medications you are taking.
The best-known alternative
treatment for dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease (AD), is the herb Ginkgo biloba. It is usually
called simply “ginkgo.” Many studies have been done on gingko’s effectiveness
in treating dementia. Some studies have shown benefit. Others have not. Talk to
your doctor about whether it makes sense for you to try.
Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has published the
following precautions concerning taking ginkgo:
- Side effects of ginkgo may include headache, nausea,
gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, dizziness, or allergic skin reactions. More
severe allergic reactions have occasionally been reported.
- There are some data to suggest that ginkgo can increase bleeding
risk. People who take anticoagulant drugs, have bleeding disorders, or have
scheduled surgery or dental procedures should use caution and talk to a health-care
provider if using ginkgo.
- Fresh (raw) ginkgo seeds contain large amounts of a chemical
called ginkgotoxin, which can cause serious adverse reactions—even seizures and
death. Roasted seeds can also be dangerous. Products made from standardized
ginkgo leaf extracts contain little ginkgotoxin and appear to be safe when taken
are considering trying gingko as a treatment for dementia, talk to your doctor
first. It may have benefits, but you want to avoid any adverse reactions.
other popular alternative treatments for dementia include the following:
to gingko, some studies have shown vitamin E to be effective in slowing the
progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have shown no effect. In high
doses, vitamin E can increase your risk of bleeding disorders. Talk to your
doctor before taking vitamin E supplements, especially if you take any blood-thinning
medications (such as aspirin).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce your risk of heart disease,
stroke, dementia, and cognitive decline. They may also reduce symptoms of
depression. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fatty fish such as
salmon, herring, and mackerel. The American Heart Association recommends eating
two servings of these fish per week. In lesser amounts, omega-3s are found in
English walnuts, flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil.
your doctor before taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids. In high doses,
they can increase your risk of bleeding, especially if you are taking any
Huperzine A is made from Chinese club moss.
It appears to work in the same way as pharmaceutical cholinesterase inhibitors (such
as donepezil/Aricept). However,
present available scientific evidence does not support the routine use of
Huperzine. Talk to your doctor before
trying this alternative treatment. Do not take it if you take a cholinesterase
and depression often accompany dementia. Furthermore, other symptoms of
dementia may be worse when you feel anxious or stressed. The following
relaxation techniques might help:
- music therapy
- massage therapy