Can Alternative Medicine Help Those with Alzheimer’s Disease?

senior husband and wife reviewing medications
Can alternative medicines help with Alzheimer’s disease symptoms?

As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That could very well pertain to the latest influx of corporations touting alternative supplements, dietary programs, and herbal concoctions as a way to cure, or at the very least reduce the outcomes of Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association would like to warn us, however, to move forward with caution when investigating treatment ideas for a senior with dementia – and always seek the health care provider’s authorization before trying anything new.

Some of the latest trends in treating the condition, that are outside of the FDA’s research and approval process and generally are based on personal testimonials instead of fact-based science, include ginkgo biloba, coral calcium, coconut oil, huperzine A and CoQ10 – an antioxidant produced naturally but in decreasing amounts as we get older. In particular, the Alzheimer’s Association reports their concerns about these and other popular alternative treatments:

  • Ginkgo biloba: Clinical trials of thousands of adults over age 75 have found no statistical difference between those receiving this plant extract and those taking a placebo.
  • Coral calcium: Coral calcium has been shown to produce no demonstratable health benefits, and those marketing and distributing it as relief from Alzheimer’s are currently under investigation with formal complaints filed by both the FTC and FDA.
  • Coconut oil: Claims are that coconut oil may possibly provide an alternative source of energy to brain cells in the place of reduced glucose levels in individuals with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association cautions that while there might be advantages, no clinical testing or scientific evidence is available.
  • Huperzine A: Used as a traditional Chinese healing product, huperzine A is a moss extract obtainable as an unregulated health supplement. A clinical trial was performed by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study that demonstrated no benefit to huperzine A in Alzheimer’s patients, and that dangerous side effects may result when taken in combination with other Alzheimer’s treatments.
  • CoQ10: While CoQ10 is a naturally-occurring antioxidant in the body, it has not been researched for its efficacy in treating Alzheimer’s disease, and also could result in problems for the senior if ingested in large amounts.

The bottom line? Our Portage home health team recommends speaking to the senior’s medical professional about treatment plans for Alzheimer’s and stick to his/her recommendations carefully. For more information on effective and safe Alzheimer’s care, available in the comfort of home, call on Home Sweet Home’s specialized dementia care team. Our care staff are thoroughly trained and experienced in skilled, patient and compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia care, allowing seniors to maintain the highest possible quality of life, safety, independence and respect. Give us a call today at (866) 229-2505 for a free in-home assessment.

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