04/03/2003 - Questions and Answers

Herbal remedies for Alzheimer's?

By: Mark Castleden

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Question

My 84 year old father has Alzheimer's. Are there any natural products which will help him.

Answer

Herbal medicines are not placebos and therefore have definite pharmacological effects. However there is often a lack of rigorous research in verifying their use in specific clinical conditions. Proof of effect is lacking in Alzheimer's. Similarly, most of the evidence in support of non-pharmacological management is anecdotal.

One can instead use effective strategies to cope with some symptoms of Alzheimer's. For example, the use of notes left around the house will be sufficient to jog the memory of somebody who has mild Alzheimer's disease. Although there is no evidence to support the 'use it or lose it' theory, there are many reasons to believe that keeping the brain as active as possible has benefits. So there should be an attempt at mental stimulation by whatever means appropriate for the person.

Unfortunately the only treatment known to improve symptoms is drug therapy, which you do not wish to use. However this may make all the difference, particularly in somebody who is mild to moderately confused. Drugs to prevent progression or to stabilise the actual underlying disease process, rather than treating the symptoms that result, are not yet generally available.

Created on: 05/24/2000
Reviewed on: 04/03/2003

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