Can Alternative Medicines Help Treat Alzheimer’s Disease?

Senior couple looking at medications.
Talk to your senior loved one's physician about treatment options for Alzheimer’s and follow instructions carefully.

As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That may very well apply to the latest influx of businesses offering alternative supplements, dietary programs, and herbal concoctions as a way to treat, or at the least reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association would like to warn us, however, to proceed with caution when exploring treatment ideas for a family member with dementia – and always have the health care provider’s authorization prior to trying anything new.

Some of the current trends in managing the disease, that are outside the FDA’s research and approval and are based on personal reviews as opposed to fact-based science, include ginkgo biloba, coral calcium, coconut oil, huperzine A and CoQ10 – an antioxidant produced naturally but in decreasing levels as we get older. In particular, the Alzheimer’s Association reports their concerns about these and other well-known alternative treatments:

  • Ginkgo biloba: Clinical trials of several thousand adults over age 75 have shown no statistical difference in those taking this plant extract and those taking a placebo.
  • Coral calcium: Coral calcium has been shown to deliver no significant health benefits, and those promoting and distributing it as relief from Alzheimer’s are presently under investigation with formal complaints filed by both the FTC and FDA.
  • Coconut oil: Promises are that coconut oil might provide an alternate energy source to brain cells in place of reduced glucose levels in people diagnosed 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 conventional Chinese recovery product, huperzine A is a moss extract obtainable as an unregulated health supplement. A clinical trial was conducted 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 human body, it has not been investigated for its effectiveness in managing Alzheimer’s disease, and actually could result in problems for the senior if taken in high doses.

The conclusion? Talk to your senior loved one’s physician about treatment options for Alzheimer’s and follow his / her instructions carefully. To learn more about effective and safe Alzheimer’s care, provided in the convenience of home, call on Heaven at Home Senior Care’s professional dementia care team. Our Plano home care staff are fully trained and experienced in highly skilled, patient and compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia care, allowing seniors to keep the highest possible quality of life, safety, independence and respect. Contact us online or at 866-381-0500 for no cost in-home assessment to learn more about how our Alzheimer’s care in Plano and the nearby areas can help a senior you love.