Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative neurologic condition in which the brain shrinks (atrophy) and brain cells die. Alzheimer's disease is the most frequent form of dementia, which is defined as a progressive loss of cognitive, behavioural, and social abilities that impairs a person's capacity to operate independently.
Adrenal function test, including cortisol and DHEA done through the saliva also are quite useful tests. Often the thyroid and adrenal glands are adversely affected with AD, and when supported correctly can make a marked difference to the quality of life of an AD patient. Liver and kidney function tests (creatinine clearance) are very handy when done 6 monthly for those on medications, to determine how effective the liver and kidneys are at clearing any drug residues from the body. Often an EKG is performed to assess the heart function. A CT or MRI scan of the head may be ordered by the neurologist to determine how the symptoms may have been caused – by neuronal plaques or neuro-fibrillary tangles. Complete blood hormone profiles also give the doctor understanding of the hormone imbalances affecting the AD patient, and their possible correction.
Ginkgo biloba extract (best to be the standardised extract containing 24% ginkgo heterosides), dosage is 40 mg, 3 times per day, for at least 3 months (numerous controlled studies; some results are conflicting, but most studies show moderate to good benefit).Ginkgo biloba may well help to alleviate the poor blood supply to the brain that usually accompanies age associated memory impairment and improves various aspects of mental function. A 1997 Journal of the American Medical Association study confirmed the successful use of ginkgo in improving cognitive performance, mood and social functioning in Alzheimer’s patients. This study noted ginkgo’s potential for improving short term memory, longer attention span and oxygen metabolism in the brain with improved transport of oxygen and glucose, the energy source of the brain. I believe that Ginkgo is one of the top herbs for AD patient, but quality is essential, and do use the standardised herb for best effect. I also like using this herb in a potent liquid form in those who have had a stroke, it helps to prevent further strokes and has too many benefits for the brain to mention.
Vitamin B 12 Have 1,000 mcg intramuscularly, once a week for 6 weeks; continue as needed, if improvement is seen. This is very important, I feel that most AD patients can benefit to some degree with this most important nervous system vitamin. In some cases, the addition of basic B-complex vitamin formula when given along with the injection may really enhance the efficacy of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 may improve some aspects of frontal lobe function and language skills of the dementia patient- Dementia may actually occur as a result of Vitamin B12 deficiency, and it has long been speculated that B12 deficiency may contribute to the development of AD.
DHEA (orally), 5-25 mg/day for women, 10-50 mg/day for men, if levels are low: This treatment appears to reverse cognitive decline in some cases, as has been observed by physicians overseas. Intravenous administration of DHEA (200 mg/day for 4 weeks) resulted in improvement in 3 of 7 patients with multi-infarct dementia (uncontrolled trial). In a double-blind study, 50 mg/day of DHEA for 6 months resulted in a non-significant improvement in cognitive function, compared with placebo, in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (Neurology 2003;60-1071-1076). You can get it over the internet, but self-prescribing is not recommended. Please consult with your health care professional before taking any DHEA yourself, it is not available in NZ without a prescription.
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) This amazing amino acid can have most positive effects in AD. As little as 500-1,000 mg, 3 times per day, may in some cases significantly improve cognitive function or slow the rate of deterioration in cases of AD or cognitive decline. ALC (2,500 – 3,000 mg per day) at a higher dose may more deeply inhibit the deterioration in mental function associated with AD and may actually help to retard the progression of AD. Acetyl-L-Carnitine may increase alertness, inhibit any toxicity of Amyloidal-Beta Protein (ABP) to nervous tissues, and help to improve the attention span, concentration and short term memory of the AD patient.
Lecithin has been shown to improve some measures of cognitive function in patients with early (but not advanced) Alzheimer’s disease. However, the optimal dosage is unknown, and there appears to be a “therapeutic window,” above which the beneficial effects of lecithin treatment are lost. A reasonable dosage recommendation would be 1-2 tablespoons per day, depending on the phosphatidylcholine content of the lecithin (i.e., lower dose for higher quality lecithin (higher phosphatidylcholine content). Henry Osiecki, one of Australia’s leading nutritional medicine experts, recommends to sprinkle 3 – 4 dessertspoons of lecithin granules over foods every day for AD patients. I quite like the sweetish taste of lecithin, and it tastes ok on top of warm porridge in the morning. Some people won’t touch it because it comes from soy, and they are allergic to it.
Vitamin E (1,000 IU twice a day for 2 years) slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (double-blind trial). Almost 50% of Alzheimer’s disease patients often exhibit low blood Vitamin E levels and Vitamin E helps to prevent AD. Vitamin E may help to restore the enzyme that generates acetylcholine activity in AD patients.
Phosphatidylserine (PS), 100 mg, 3 times per day: Soy phosphatidylserine is the more common form of supplemental phosphatidylserine. Soy Phosphatidylserine is equally effective as (and possibly more effective than) bovine phosphatidylserine for therapeutic purposes. There were 16 clinical trials completed with PS for cognition (11 double-blind, 5 less stringently controlled) consistently indicating that PS provides metabolic support for memory, learning, concentration, and behaviour. This one is well worth taking, with any cognitive decline. People who are using pharmaceutical anticoagulants such as warfarin or heparin should consult their practitioner before using supplementary phosphatidylserine. Phosphatidylserine enhances the effectiveness of anticoagulant drugs and phosphatidylserine use may well necessitate a lowered dosage of an anticoagulant.
Melissa officinalis(lemon balm) extract (60 drops/day of a 1:1 tincture, standardised to contain at least 500 mcg/ml of citral): In a double-blind study, AD treatment with melissa extract for 16 weeks produced a significantly better outcome on measures of cognitive function, and significantly reduced agitation, compared with placebo.The objective of a study done in Iran, was to assess the efficacy and safety of Melissa officinalis extract using a fixed dose (60 drops/day) in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. This was a four month, placebo controlled trial. Melissa officinalis extract was found of value in the management of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and has a positive effect on agitation in such patients. And, it smells nice too!