Alzheimer’s and Dementia
There are many natural treatments that may help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Vitamins, Minerals and EFA’s for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Healthy brain function requires several key nutrients:
- B vitamins. B vitamins are critical to normal nerve transmission. B12 is particularly important for healthy brain function. Deficiency is common among elderly patients. This is due to a lower intake of B12 rich foods like eggs and meat and lower stomach acid or the use of antacid medications, which impair B12 absorption.
- Essential Fatty Acids. These are the healthy fats that we have to get from our diet as our bodies can’t produce them. Fish and fish oils are a rich source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are high in corn, sunflower and soybean oils. Our diets tend to be too heavily weighted in Omega 6’s and much too low in Omega 3’s. As a result, we are more inclined to recommend supplementation with Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Magnesium. Vitamin B6 and Magnesium are required for the healthy production of neurotransmitters. These are the brain chemicals that regulate how our brains work. Neurotransmitters regulate moods like feeling happy, energetic, rewarded, calm and sleepy. Imbalances in them can create anxiety, depression, insomnia, and addiction.
- Active folic acid or L-5MTHF. This particular form of folic acid is used to help maintain normal levels of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Lifestyle Factors and Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Aside from these critical nutrients, lifestyle factors like physical activity and maintaining a healthy social life help maintain healthy cognitive function and prevent dementia. There’s also the “use it or lose it” factor. Learning new skills and facing intellectual challenges like sudoku or crossword puzzles helps to keep your brain sharp.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture
There is a multitude of research on the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM on Alzheimer’s and dementia. Our naturopathic doctors and acupuncturist are experts in TCM and can help select the most appropriate herbal formulas based on your overall symptoms. Acupuncture reduces symptoms after 12 weeks of treatment.
Authored by By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc, ND
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Natural Medicine Research
Vitamin B6 and B12:
Agnew-Blais JC, Wassertheil-Smoller S, Kang JH, Hogan PE, Coker LH, Snetselaar LG, Smoller JW. Folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 intake and mild cognitive impairment and probable dementia in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study.
Akhondzadeh S, Noroozian M, Mohammadi M, Ohadinia S, Jamshidi AH, Khani M. Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003; 74(7):863-6.
● At four months, Melissa officinalis extract produced a significantly better outcome on cognitive function compared to placebo (as measured by change in ADAS-cog and CDR-SB scores) Bredesen DE. Reversal of cognitive decline: a novel therapeutic program. Aging (Albany NY) . 2014;6(9):707-17.
Felice C, Federico C, Andrea F, Riccardo AC, Walter S, Domenico I, Chiara M, Rosanna C. The hypothesis that Helicobacter pylori predisposes to Alzheimer’s disease is biologically plausible. Sci Rep .2017; 7(1):7817.
● H pylori peptide modulated 77 genes in human gastric cells, 65 of which are listed in the AlzBase database and include hallmarks of AD (APP, APOE, PSEN1, PSEN2). A large fraction of genes 30/77 belong to the inflammation pathway
Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Gao J, Inagaki Y, Li X, Kokudo N, Tang W. Research progress on natural products from traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Drug Discov Ther. 2013; 7(2):46-57.
Gottesman RF, Schneider AL, Zhou Y, Coresh J, Green E, Gupta N, Knopman DS, Mintz A, Rahmim A, Sharrett AR, Wagenknecht LE, Wong DF, Mosley TH. Association between midlife vascular risk factors and estimated brain amyloid deposition. JAMA . 2017; 317(14): 1443-1450.
● This study found that an increase in the number of midlife vascular risk factors (BMI >30, current smoking, HTN, diabetes, and total cholesterol > 200 mg/dL) were associated with increase in amyloid standardized uptake value ratios in PET, a measure indicating brightness of tissue in brain area and amount of cellular activity in the area. This study is consistent with the theory of cardiovascular disease role in the development of Alzheimer disease.
Korean Red Ginseng:
Hebert LE, Weuve J, Scherr PA, Evans DA. Alzheimer disease in the United States (2010-2050) estimated using the 2010 census. Neurology. 2013; 80(19):1778-83.
Heo JH, Lee ST, Chu K, Oh MJ, Park HJ, Shim JY, Kim M. An open-label trial of Korean red ginseng as an adjuvant treatment for cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Eur J Neurol.2008; 15(8):865-8.
● High-dose Korean red ginseng group (9 g/day) showed significant improvement on the ADAS and CDR scale after 12 weeks of therapy compared to control; the improvement from baseline was observed in the ginseng group but was not statistically significant.
Hooshmand B, Solomon A, Kareholt I, Leiviska J, Rusanen M, Ahtiluoto S, Winblad B, Laatikainen T, Soininen H, Kivipelto M. Homocysteine and holotranscobalamin and the risk of Alzheimer disease: a longitudinal study. Neurology. 2010; 75(16):1408-14.
● Increases in homocysteine and holotranscobalamin both may be involved in the development of AD
Jia Y, Zhang X, Yu J, Han J, Yu T, Shi J, Zhao L, Nie K. Acupuncture for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017; 17:556.
● ADAS-cog scores for the acupuncture group decreased at the 12-week follow up period, as well as a difference in ADAS-cog scores at baseline to 12-week follow up period compared to the donepezil hydrochloride group.
● Significant between-group differences detected
● Mean CIBIC-Plus values for the acupuncture group at end of the treatment period and after 12-week follow up were lower than the donepezil hydrochloride group, significant differences between two groups
● No significant differences between groups in scores of ADAS-ADL and NPI during the study period
● No treatment discontinuation for acupuncture group, but 9% discontinued treatment in the donepezil group.
Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Jiang Y, Gao H, Turdu G. Traditional Chinese medicinal herbs as potential AChE inhibitors for anti-Alzheimer’s disease: a review. Bioorg Chem. 2017; 75:50-61.
● Herbs include Herba Epimedii, Coptis Chinensis Franch, Rhizoma Curcumae Longae, Green Tea, Ganoderma, Panax Ginseng. Kern J, Kern S, Blennow K, Zetterberg H, Waern M, Guo X, Borjesson-Hanson A, Skoog I, Ostling S.
Calcium supplementation and risk of dementia in women with cerebrovascular disease.
Neurology. 2016; 87(16):1674-1680.
● This study found that calcium supplementation posed an increased risk for developing dementia and subtype stroke-related dementia (vascular and mixed dementias) in women ages 70-92 with a history of stroke, compared with those who were not taking calcium supplements Shi X, Zheng Z, Li J, Xiao Z, Qi W, Zhang A, Wu Q, Fang Y. Curcumin inhibits Abeta-induced microglial inflammatory responses in vitro: involvement of ERK1/2 and p38 signaling pathways. Neurosci Lett . 2015; 594:105-10.
Smith JC, Nielson KA, Woodard JL, Seidenberg M, Drugerian S, Hazlett KE, Figueroa CM, Kandah CC< Kay CD, Matthews MA, Rao SM. Physical activity reduces hippocampal atrophy in elders at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Front Aging Neurosci. 2014; 6:61.
● Over 18 months, hippocampal volume decreased by 3% in the high risk/low physical activity group, but remained stable in the three remaining groups (high risk/high PA, low risk/low PA, low risk/high PA)
Su Y, Wang Q, Wang C, Chan K, Sun Y, Kuang H. The treatment of Alzheimer’s disease using Chinese medicinal plants: from disease models to potential clinical applications. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;152(3):403-23.
Wade AG, Farmer M, Harari G, Fund N, Laudon M, Nir T, Frydman-Marom A, Zisapel N. Add-on prolonged release melatonin for cognitive function and sleep in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a 6-month, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Clin Interv Aging. 2014;9:947-61.
● Prolonged release melatonin added to standard therapy of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors with or without memantine – results showed that the PRM group had significantly improved cognitive performance compared to placebo, better sleep efficiency, particularly in those with insomnia comorbidity
Chinese Herbal Medicine:
Wang ZY, Liu JG, Li H, Yang HM. Pharmacological effects of active components of Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: a review. Am J Chin Med. 2016;
Yang WT, Zheng XW, Chen S, Shan CS, Xu QC, Zhu JZ, Bao XY, Lin Y, Zheng GQ, Wang Y. Chinese herbal medicine for Alzheimer’s disease: clinical evidence and possible mechanism of neurogenesis. Biochem Pharmacol . 2017; 141:143-155.