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Apart from regular treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, many alternative therapies have also been found to slow the onset and the progression of the disease. They have also been used to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in patients with a positive family history.

Role of Herbs in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

Some of the common herbs which have found a place in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease include:

Gingko biloba has been found to be useful in the treatment of early phases of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. It is believed to possess antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory properties. It protects the cell membrane of the nerve cells and helps in the regulation of the functioning of various neurotransmitters.

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Huperzine A is derived from the moss plant and acts just like cholinesterase inhibitors, which have been approved for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Curcumin which is derived from the ginger family has shown promising antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties against β-amyloid aggregation. It can be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease because it can modulate the amyloid induced cytopathology.

Music Therapy for Alzheimer’s disease

Music therapy is said to elevate the mood of the patient. It reduces the restlessness and increases the level of chemicals in the brain which are associated with sleep. It acts as an anxiolytic and improves the quality of life of the patient.

Role of Aromatherapy in Alzheimer’s disease

Certain oils used in the aromatherapy, especially lemon balm and lavender oil, are believed to improve cognition in people with the disease. Like music therapy, aromatherapy also helps in reducing the anxiety and has a calming effect on the patient.

Acupuncture in Alzheimer’s disease

Small studies done in the past have indicated that certain types of acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) help in improving memory and daily living skills in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Massage Therapy in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease

Though massage therapy cannot delay the onset or the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, it has a calming effect on the patient. It lowers the pulse rate and soothes the nerves of the agitated patients. Moreover, massage therapy can be used to improve the communication skills of the patients. It can act as a means of nonverbal means of communication.

Although all these methods of alternative medicine have been used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease from time to time, yet it is important to know that hardly any of these methods is backed by scientific studies.  So it is difficult to comment on their efficacy.

These alternative forms of therapies should only be used as an adjunct to the conventional therapy and not as a replacement.

Moreover, certain chemicals used in alternative therapy for Alzheimer’s disease may chemically react with the conventional medicines. Therefore, it is imperative to take the permission of your physician before starting any new form of alternative therapy.

  • “Alzheimer's disease”, by University of Maryland Medical Center, reviewed last on December 6, 2010, accessed on November 21, 2012.
  • “The Efficacy of Ginkgo biloba on Cognitive Function in Alzheimer Disease”, by Barry S. Oken, et al, published in 1998 in the journal Archives of Neurology, accessed on November 21, 2012.
  • “A Controlled Trial of Selegiline, Alpha-Tocopherol, or Both as Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease”, by Mary Sano, et al, Published in the April 24, 1997 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, accessed on November 21, 2012.
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  • Photo courtesy of alzheimerhelp on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/alzheimerhelp/6921658471
  • Photo courtesy of opensourceway on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4750075260

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