Natural Remedies For Alzheimer’s And Dementia06 April 2023
- Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia that destroys brain cells and their connecting pathways, resulting in a reduced ability to think clearly, perform simple everyday tasks and recall information.
- While there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, there are numerous alternative ways to treat the symptoms and side effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia that don’t consist of taking medications.
- Natural treatments for Alzheimer’s may help slow the progression of the disease and delay the onset of symptoms, particularly in its early stages, and improve the patient’s overall quality of life.
- Medical cannabis can be a natural way to reduce inflammation in the brain and improve the way cells communicate with each other. Lyphe is the UK’s leading medical cannabis clinic specialising in cannabis treatment for a whole host of neurological conditions, including AD. Keep reading to learn more.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a form of dementia that destroys brain cells and neural pathways, causing a progressive decline in brain functioning, including memory, thinking, behaviour and other mental abilities. This degenerative brain disorder affects around 57 million people globally and an estimated 900,000 people in the UK, with these figures expected to increase over time .
While the exact cause of AD is unknown, numerous factors are thought to increase the risk of developing the condition, including age, family history, untreated depression, diet and lifestyle factors, preexisting health conditions and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease.
Experts have yet to find a cure for AD or prevent its onset; however, there are numerous natural treatments to help slow disease progression and improve the quality of life for those living with AD and other forms of dementia.
Many patients and their families turn to alternative therapies for dementia that target the symptoms and influence cognition and behaviour positively, particularly in the early stages of the disease, without the risk of side effects associated with conventional medical treatment for Alzheimer’s.
While natural therapy for Alzheimer’s can be beneficial, it is always important to speak with your doctor before exploring alternative treatments for AD. This article explores evidence-based home remedies for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia to help effectively manage symptoms and improve the condition.
Natural Treatments For Alzheimer’s Disease
A key component of Alzheimer’s Disease is the build-up of plaque around nerve cells in the brain. Some lab studies have shown that the chemicals in medical cannabis – cannabinoids such as THC and CBD – help remove plaque (amyloid) from the cells .
This process can reduce inflammation and improve the way brain cells communicate with each other, thereby potentially helping to improve learning, memory, and mood changes and counteract other symptoms of AD.
Lyphe is the UK’s leading medical cannabis clinic specialising in cannabis treatment for a whole host of neurological conditions, including AD. The treatment can help patients live happy and healthy lives by reducing symptoms and, in some cases, alleviating them altogether.
The dedicated team of experts are among the most experienced clinicians treating patients with medical cannabis and can offer personalised treatment plans and private care, carefully guiding them through each step of the process.
People with AD interested in getting started on their medical cannabis journey can book a private online consultation where a Lyphe expert can offer targeted advice and treatment options based on the patient’s individual symptoms.
Caprylic acid is a medium-chain fatty acid found in coconut oil that the body metabolises into ketones. The acid is also used in a clinically-tested medication called Ketasyn, which is used to treat AD.
Evidence suggests that the use of glucose, which is the brain’s primary source of energy, is reduced in people with AD. Ketone proteins provide an alternative energy source to nourish brain cells, improve communication and reduce inflammation.
While no clinical trials have been conducted on coconut oil for treating AD, research has found that people who took Ketasyn experienced enhanced memory and reduced cognitive decline compared to those who took a placebo . For this reason, many people may turn to coconut oil as a natural and cheaper alternative source of caprylic acid to the pharmacological substance.
DHA is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid present in omega-3 that is linked to a reduced risk of dementia by protecting the fatty membranes that surround nerve cells.
Found in fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon and mackerel, eggs, organ meats, fish oil supplements and algae, omega-3 can benefit AD patients by slowing the rate of cognitive degeneration, particularly in the early stages.
For instance, a 2015 review found that people who consumed fish on a regular basis experienced reduced cognitive impairment and memory loss .
Also known as ubiquinone, coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant naturally produced in the body that is crucial to numerous bodily functions, including providing energy to cells and preventing neurodegeneration and oxidative stress.
Research suggests that people with Alzheimer’s have a higher level of amyloid plaque build-up in the brain and a coenzyme Q10 deficiency. Administering coenzyme Q10 appears to reduce amyloid levels and has neuroprotective effects .
Additionally, a preclinical study on rodents found a positive correlation between the antioxidant and neuroprotection against the detrimental effects of amyloid. However, the results have so far failed to be replicated in human studies .
Acupuncture is one of many alternative medical remedies for AD to promote self-healing. The practice involves the insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific parts of the body to improve the flow of energy.
Research has shown acupuncture to produce immediate and long-term health benefits in people with dementia, including improved cognition and mood, and it has also shown improvements in other areas, such as pain, insomnia and energy levels .
Certain essential oils derived from plants have properties beneficial to health and well-being. Rosemary, lemon, frankincense, lavender and orange essential oils, in particular, have shown improvements in the thinking abilities of older adults with AD .
More specifically, lemon balm oil may improve cognition and mood in people with dementia, while lavender oil may reduce occurrences of aggressive behaviour.
With that said, large-scale and long-term studies are needed to draw definitive conclusions on the benefits of essential oils for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
A type of calcium derived from seashells, coral reefs and other sea life, coral calcium contains trace amounts of many other minerals that may offer additional health benefits compared to traditional sources of calcium. With that said, there is no evidence to suggest that coral calcium is effective in treating or preventing AD.
Calcium is a key component in the development of proteins that create cells. With age, the body’s concentration of calcium begins to decline, and one theory suggests that this may be an important factor for an increased risk of Alzheimer’s as proteins no longer synthesise properly.
These dysfunctional proteins behave like toxins and cause the brain to underperform and lead to shrinkage. For this reason, calcium supplements may be beneficial to those already deficient in the mineral; however, more research is needed to understand its mechanism in the brain.
Many herbs for dementia can be effective due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Ginkgo biloba is understood to protect cell membranes and regulate neurotransmitter function. As such, the herb has been used for centuries to improve cognitive symptoms associated with numerous neurological disorders, including AD.
For instance, multiple small-scale studies have found ginkgo biloba to show promise in improving behavioural and psychological symptoms of AD as well as cognitive impairment .
However, the herb can interact with many prescription medications and can be harmful to people taking blood-thinning medication.
Phosphatidylserine is a type of fat that surrounds the membranes of nerve cells. As AD and other dementias compromise the structural integrity of such cells, causing them to degrade, treatment with this lipid compound can help support the cell membrane and protect nerve cells from degeneration.
Early clinical trials of phosphatidylserine contained samples derived from the brain cells of cows and produced promising results. However, further research was halted following concerns about contracting mad cow disease.
For instance, a 1992 study found that people with AD who took 300 mg of phosphatidylserine per day for eight weeks showed greater improvement in overall well-being than those who took a placebo .
Supplements are now derived from soy extracts, and it is unclear if such plant-based sources have the same effectiveness for AD.
Amyloid proteins associated with AD have been shown to accumulate in the brain after just one night of sleep deprivation, making consistently good-quality sleep essential to reducing the risk of the disease. Moreover, AD disrupts the part of the brain responsible for regulating the circadian rhythm, which signals the body to sleep and wake up.
Light therapy helps to restore balance in the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and may offer benefits in stress relief and insomnia in people with AD by exposing the individual to bright lights at regimented times throughout the day.
A 2013 review found that light therapy in the morning improved nighttime sleeping patterns, increased daytime wakefulness and reduced evening agitation .
Good nutrition is the cornerstone of good health, with many of the risk factors for AD potentially being negated by increasing or introducing healthy foods into the diet.
While there is no single food or beverage that has been proven as a natural cure for Alzherimer’s, adopting a Mediterranean diet that is low in processed foods and saturated fats and high in fruit, vegetables, lean meat, healthy fats, whole grains and protein can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and other health conditions.
In fact, a 2021 study found that the Mediterranean diet appeared to have protective effects against AD and was the primary lifestyle factor preventing the brain from developing amyloid plaque .
Physical activity triggers the release of a chemical in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which increases neural pathways between cells and enhances learning and memory.
With age, levels of BDNF begin to decline naturally and are dangerously low in people with dementia. A growing body of evidence suggests that patients with AD can benefit from regular physical exercise by boosting BDNF levels to improve cognitive function, mood and behaviour .
At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise is recommended each week to protect cognitive performance, with as little as 30 minutes of walking each day promoting blood and oxygen flow to the brain and preventing plaque build-up.
Research suggests that social engagement is important for building resilience to Alzheimer’s Disease.
For instance, one study analysed 284 brain scans of middle-aged people identified as at risk for AD. Results showed that those who worked closely with other people could withstand brain damage and maintain cognitive function more effectively than those who worked in an isolated environment .
These results indicate the importance of being as social as possible with work colleagues, family members or friends to protect against Alzheimer’s, improve possible symptoms and enhance overall quality of life.
Restorative sleep is essential to clearing the brain and body of toxins and rebalancing systems. Sleep disturbances and insomnia are common side effects of AD, yet poor-quality sleep can exacerbate AD symptoms.
In fact, studies suggest that even in healthy adults, losing one-third of a night’s sleep can cause severe short-term memory loss comparable to that in dementia . The consequences of such sleep disturbances are even greater in people with AD and other forms of dementia.
For this reason, observing good sleep hygiene is of utmost importance, which involves adopting a routine conducive to a good night’s rest. Elements of healthy sleep hygiene include:
- Waking up and going to sleep at the same time each day and night
- Sleeping in a cool, dark and quiet environment
- Avoiding exposure to blue light from electronic devices at least one hour before bed
- Decreasing caffeine intake around eight hours before bed
- Not exercising at least three hours before bed
- Engaging in a relaxing activity before going to sleep, i.e. meditation, journaling, listening to calming music, etc.
While there is currently no known treatment to prevent or cure Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia, many people turn to alternative therapies to reduce the risk, experience relief from symptoms and side effects, and improve their overall quality of life.
The remedies discussed in this article can be used alongside conventional medical therapies to slow disease progression and promote a healthier body and mind. However, it is important to note that not all natural products or treatments are necessarily safe, and certain herbal remedies can cause serious drug interactions. Patients should always speak with their doctor before trying any alternative natural treatments for Alzheimer’s.
Medical cannabis can help people with AD manage behavioural symptoms, such as aggression and agitation, as cannabinoids can invoke feelings of relaxation, happiness and sociability. Evidence suggests that these chemicals may also remove amyloid build-up in the brain.
People interested in treating their AD with medical cannabis can rely on the team of expert clinicians at the Lyphe clinic to support them every step of the way. Many patients have already experienced encouraging results after seeking treatment for various conditions at Lyphe.
Book an online consultation with a Lyphe doctor to discuss an individualised treatment plan that works.
At what age do Alzheimer’s symptoms usually first appear?
Older adults, typically above the age of 65, are most commonly affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. However, people below this age can also develop the condition, with symptoms appearing as early as a person’s 30s in some rare cases, also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.
Can you stop Alzheimer’s from progressing?
Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia are not a natural and inevitable part of ageing. In fact, research suggests up to 40% of dementia cases can be prevented or delayed by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. For instance, regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 50% and slow deterioration in people who have already shown signs of cognitive dysfunction. Additionally, a healthy balanced diet, good-quality sleep and wholesome social life are also known to reduce risk and delay the onset of the condition.
What is the average life expectancy for Alzheimer’s?
The average life expectancy for people with Alzheimer’s is between three and eleven years; with that said, some people live with the disease for more than twenty years. Several factors can affect life expectancy, including a person’s age, gender, and the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis, as well as the presence of untreated vascular conditions.
- Facts for the media about dementia | Alzheimer’s Society (alzheimers.org.uk)
- A Review on Studies of Marijuana for Alzheimer’s Disease – Focusing on CBD, THC – PMC (nih.gov)
- Study of the ketogenic agent AC-1202 in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Intakes of fish and polyunsaturated fatty acids and mild-to-severe cognitive impairment risks: a dose-response meta-analysis of 21 cohort studies – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Frontiers | Investigation of coenzyme Q10 status, serum amyloid-β, and tau protein in patients with dementia (frontiersin.org)
- Investigation of protective effects of coenzyme Q10 on impaired synaptic plasticity in a male rat model of Alzheimer’s disease – ScienceDirect
- Effect and mechanism of acupuncture on Alzheimer’s disease – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Aromatherapy for dementia – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Ginkgo Biloba for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Double-blind cross-over study of phosphatidylserine vs. placebo in patients with early dementia of the Alzheimer type – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Light Therapy and Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia: Past, Present, and Future – PMC (nih.gov)
- Mediterranean Diet, Alzheimer Disease Biomarkers and Brain Atrophy in Old Age – PubMed (nih.gov)
- The neurocognitive and BDNF changes of multicomponent exercise for community-dwelling older adults with mild cognitive impairment or dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis – PMC (nih.gov)
- Alzheimer’s disease less likely to affect doctors and teachers according to Toronto study | Daily Mail Online
- Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance – PMC (nih.gov)
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