Alzheimer’s is a specific kind of senile dementia (also the most common accounting for 75% of dementia in the over 65 age group), in which brain cells degenerate and the size of the brain substance shrinks with the exception of the white matter. There is a general decline of mental ability.
Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a pathologist, first described the disease which came to be named after him (1907).
No specific cause is generally accepted. Toxic poisoning by aluminum and silicon are leading theories, together with genetic predisposition. Copper and manganese exposure and accumulation have also been indicated. No detoxification therapy for aluminum has been proven to reverse Alzheimer’s disease. Using the therapy prophylactically is another, as yet unproven, possibility. The reduced levels of acetylcholine and vitamin B12 are the most relevant to any discussion of nutritional therapy.
Currently, there is a great deal of interest surrounding indications that disruptions in phospholipid metabolism may underlie Alzheimer's disease. Hence, choline supplementation is under trial.
Signs & Symptoms
Forgetfulness develops into memory loss which leads to total confusion and disorientation. The patient cannot remember where they are, how they got there, or who may be with them, even if it is their spouse! Most wander aimlessly in a docile way but some become violent.
The definitive diagnosis is confirmed at autopsy.
Roughly 15% of the US elderly (over 2 million) have some degree of dementia. This supports the view that it is not and should not be accepted as, a “normal” part of the aging process.
Structure & Function: Nutrients for Brain Support
Acetyl-L-carnitine* Coenzyme Q10 100 mg Lecithin 6-8 g Phosphatidylserine* Superoxide Dismutase* Tyrosine* Vitamin B6 100 mg Vitamin B12 500 mcg Vitamin C 2000 mg Vitamin E 400 i.u Zinc 20 mg
* Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.
All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.
Phospholipids are now available from lecithin, usually as either phosphatidylcholine, or phosphatidylserine. This may well be worth a try but supplementation may be expensive and some authorities do not recommend it if there are no benefits after a few weeks trial period.
Free radical damage is also elevated in Alzheimer;s patients, so an antioxidant approach is highly recommended, which may include: vitamins A (and carotenes), C, E and minerals: zinc and selenium.
B-complex vitamins: folic acid and B12 will probably also need to be supplemented. B6 remains controversial in neurodegenerative disorders. However, Wagner cites a correlation between falling dopamine receptors and a decline in plasma vitamin B6 levels.
There is also concern about weight loss, even emaciation. This is not simply a matter of forgetting meals, or failing to purchase groceries. Even institutionalized women in one study were found to have low body weight despite a high energy intake. Resting energy expenditure was normal. Moreover, patient rights have made forced feeding a legal issue, beyond any medical considerations.
Description Remedy Cerebral sclerosis Baryta carbonica Dizziness Conium maculatum Poor memory: Anacardium orientale tinct. Kali phosphoricum
Over-the-counter homeopathic remedies may be single strength (of fairly weak potency e.g. 6X ) or a blend of several weaker strengths (6X, 8X, 10X).
This may comprise a single remedy, or several remedies.
Doses are administered on a 3 times daily (tid), between meals,schedule and continued for 3 days.
Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose.
Solid preparations are usually 2 or 3 pellets per dose.
Children use 1/2 dose i.e. 1 pellet.
If there is aggravation of the symptoms, stop taking the remedy and consult a homeopath.
Murphy, R. : Homeopathic Medical Repertory. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1993.
Murphy, R. : Lotus Materia Medica. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1995.
Pert, J.C.: Homeopathy for the Family. The Homoeopathic Development Foundation, London. 1985 edition.
Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.
The large scientific literature now available also supports the benefit of Ginkgo biloba for improving cerebrovascular insufficiency. The high metabolic rate of the brain can be restored, to some extent.
Ginseng and other phytoestrogens may be helpful in Alzheimer's.
Other herbal approaches may be utilized if a thyroid disorder is present, which is quite common.
Aromatherapy - Essential Oils
Basil Essence, Juniper Essence, Rosemary Essence.
Related Health ConditionsAbstracts
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Bosman GJ Erythrocyte aging characteristics in elderly individuals with beginning dementia. Neurobiol Aging, 1997 May-Jun, 18:3, 291-5.
Bowman B. Acetyl-carnitine and Alzheimer’s disease. Nutr. Rev. 50:142-144, 1992.
Canty-DJ & Zeisel-SH: Lecithin and choline in human health and disease. Nutr-Rev. 1994 Oct; 52(10): 327-39
Cole, M.G. & Prchal, J.F.: Low serum B12 in Alzheimer-type dementia. Age Aging, 1984, 13: 101-105.
Evans-PH: Free radicals in brain metabolism and pathology. Br-Med-Bull. 1993 Jul; 49(3): 577-87.
Folstein M Nutrition and Alzheimer's disease. Nutr Rev, 1997 Jan, 55:1 Pt 1, 23-5.
Frisoni-GB et al: A nutritional index predicting mortality in the nursing home. J-Am-Geriatr-Soc. 1994 Nov; 42(11): 1167-72
Grundman-M et al: Low body weight in Alzheimer's disease is associated with mesial temporal cortex atrophy. Neurology. 1996 Jun; 46(6): 1585-91.
Levy. R. et al.: Early results from double-blind, placebo controlled trial of high dose phosphatidylcholine in Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet, 1982, I: 474 - 476.
Miziniak-H: Persons with Alzheimer's: effects of nutrition and exercise. J-Gerontol-Nurs. 1994 Oct; 20(10): 27-32
Niskanen-L. et al: Resting energy expenditure in relation to energy intake in patients with Alzheimer's disease, multi-infarct dementia and in control women. Age-Ageing. 1993 Mar; 22(2): 132-7.
Rosenberg, G. & Davis, K.L.: The use of cholinergic precursors in neuropsychiatric diseases. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1982, 36: 709 - 720.
Sano M et al., A controlled trial of selegiline, alpha-tocopherol, or both as treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study. [see comments] NEJM, 1997 Apr, 336:17, 1216-22.
Vickers JC: The cellular mechanism underlying neuronal degeneration in glaucoma: parallels with Alzheimer's disease. Aust N Z J Ophthalmol, 1997 May, 25:2, 105-9.
Vorberg, G.: Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE): a long term study of chronic cerebral insufficiency in geriatric patients. Clinical trials J. 1985, 22: 149 - 157.
Werbach, M. R.: Nutritional Influences on Illness: A sourcebook of clinical research. Third Line Press, Tarzana, CA. Second Edition.
Wolf-Klein-GP & Silverstone-FA Weight loss in Alzheimer's disease: an international review of the literature. Int-Psychogeriatr. 1994 Fall; 6(2): 135-42
Wolf-Klein-GP et al: Energy requirements in Alzheimer's disease patients. Nutrition. 1995 May-Jun; 11(3): 264-8
Zahler-LP et al: Nutritional care of ambulatory residents in special care units for Alzheimer's patients. J-Nutr-Elder. 1993; 12(4): 5-19.
Zeisel, S.H. Dietary Choline: Biochemistry, Physiology, & Pharmacology. Annual Review of Nutrition. 1.
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